'Afrikaans language rights ignored'

AfriForum, the civil rights initiative established by Solidarity, has lodged an official complaint against the University of Pretoria with the Pan South African Language Board (Pansalb), it said yesterday.

AfriForum, the civil rights initiative established by Solidarity, has lodged an official complaint against the University of Pretoria with the Pan South African Language Board (Pansalb), it said yesterday.

The complaint follows the university's "disregard for the language rights of Afrikaans-speaking students", AfriForum said.

"With this complaint, AfriForum maintains on behalf of a group of industrial engineering students, that UP has infringed on their rights by misleading them into believing that they would receive instruction primarily in Afrikaans - while this has not been the case at all.

" The students' official proof of registration - issued by UP at the beginning of the year - indicated that Afrikaans was the medium of instruction for 85percent of the subjects they registered for, while eventually all their subjects were offered in English only," AfriForum said.

"The registration receipts have been submitted to Pansalb in substantiation of AfriForum's complaint."

According to Kallie Kriel, chief executive of AfriForum, the students had numerous discussions with the university authorities to request the re-instatement of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, but their requests "fell on deaf ears".

"AfriForum and the students were left with no alternative but to lodge a complaint with Pansalb," Kriel said.

Kriel said the complaint was also essential in order to send a clear message to the management of UP that they could not continue pretending that Afrikaans was strongly anchored at UP in an effort to recruit Afrikaans-speaking students, while this was not the case at all.

Kriel said a mere 19 of the 150 graduate courses at UP could still be completed in Afrikaans.

He said UP prided itself on being the university with the largest number of Afrikaans-speaking students in the country, but in practice little was being done to comply with and respect the language rights of Afrikaans students. - Sapa

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