Image via Twitter: @Our_DA

Stellenbosch University: DA launches petition to ‘make Afrikaans equal with English’

The Democratic Alliance launched the petition out of its “deep commitment to language rights”.


Image via Twitter: @Our_DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA), in the “spirit of Human Rights Day”, launched a petition to protect the right to mother tongue education at Stellenbosch University “against persistent attacks by university management”.

The party said each signature on the petition “also indicates a person who supports the DA’s comments on the March 2021 draft policy.” The petition and a list of people who support it will be delivered to Stellenbosch University.

“The petition will be handed over to management, and will also be accompanied by comprehensive proposed amendments to the new draft language policy. Each person signing the petition will therefore also express their support for the proposed amendments”.

The party said it is launching the petition out of its “deep commitment to language rights” and their “concern over the exclusion of millions of impoverished Afrikaans-speaking young people”.

Furthermore, DA Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration Leon Schreiber said the university “anti-Afrikaans stance goes against students’ constitutional right to receive an education in their mother tongue:

“The current management, led by Rector Wim de Villiers’s anti-Afrikaans stance was even further amplified by the university’s refusal to act in defence of the students’ constitutional right to mother tongue education and to speak their own language”.

Leon Schreiber

The party spoke out against the policy, saying “any person who believes that this English-only policy will be temporary in nature are blind to the persistent attacks by the De Villiers regime on Afrikaans”.

The DA demands the following:

  • That the first draft of the new policy be rejected as it “will result in the further exclusion of Afrikaans students”.
  • A new policy be created for fair language dispensation “that grants absolutely equal status to Afrikaans and English as primary languages”.
  • SU must “commission a comprehensive and independent audit to ascertain how much it would cost to guarantee equal status to Afrikaans and English”.
  • The university must “fully exploit” technological offerings such as speech-to-text to “facilitate accurate translation between languages”.
  • The new policy must “explicitly and concretely commit the university to provide financial and other support to learners in Afrikaans schools in disadvantaged communities”.

“Given the way in which the Afrikaans offer was dramatically reduced by the 2016 language policy, the new language policy must explicitly commit to increasing the Afrikaans offer to ensure full access for all deserving students who wish to study in Afrikaans while maintaining access for students who wish to study in English.”

This follows after the Stellenbosch University on Friday 19 March 2021 approved a policy which, according to the DA, “completely eliminates the last bit of Afrikaans decorations in lecture halls.”

The DA said it regards the right to receive education in one’s mother tongue “just as important as any other human right”. Therefore, the party approached the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

The party also calls for the Stellenbosch University language policy to be reviewed “with the aim of guaranteeing Afrikaans equal status besides English in all aspects of university life”.