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Nzimande welcomes court's ruling on university language policy

Blade Nzimande
Image: Rogan Ward.

The English language will now be used as an equally important language at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town.

The ruling was handed down on Thursday last week by Constitutional Court after Solidarity took the university to the court. The minister of higher education and training, science and technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, welcomed the ruling in favour of the University of Stellenbosch to use its language policy as adopted in 2016.

In handing down the judgment, justice Johan Froneman said the previous language policy made people who did not speak Afrikaans to feel excluded, whilst the current policy is more inclusive and constitutionally justified.

Nzimande said Afrikaans is proudly one of 11 official languages."We cannot allow Afrikaans to be used as a means of exclusion and oppression, nor as a means to pursue a narrow and racist Afrikaner nationalist agenda, as was the case under apartheid,” Nzimande said. Nzimande said Afrikaans has to be located in a democratic South Africa and be rescued from a white right wing agenda. "This decision will further inform the outcome of the revised Language Policy for Higher Education, which was referred to the Council on Higher Education (CHE) for advice before finalisation.

“The purpose of the policy is, amongst others, to provide a framework for the development and strengthening of all 11 official languages, with a particular focus on the development of African languages as languages of scholarship, teaching, learning and communication at universities,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande said government will ensure that institutions of higher learning perform their responsibility in promoting and creating conditions for the development of all South African languages, including the Khoi, Nama, San Languages as well as sign language.

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