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ConCourt backs Stellenbosch University's language policy

The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of Stellenbosch University (SU) and its language policy in a unanimous judgment put down yesterday, 10 October 2019.
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SU welcomed the ruling in a statement, saying: "The judgment clearly states that our language policy is constitutionally justified. It also confirms the goal of the language policy: To promote access to and multilingualism at the university, and to support the academic and career success of students and staff."

The Court also found that the process the university followed to accept the language policy, which was approved in 2016, had been “thorough, exhaustive, inclusive and properly deliberative”.

Said SU: "The university takes note of the Court’s reference to the protection of minority languages. Besides the use of English, SU is committed to the use of Afrikaans and isiXhosa. These are also the three official languages of the Western Cape, the province from which SU draws most of its undergraduate students."

The Court also found that the language policy was not trying to “eliminate” Afrikaans “by any means”. According to SU’s language policy, the university remains committed to using Afrikaans – in conjunction with English – as language of tuition within the context of inclusivity and multilingualism.

The SU statement said that the language policy supports the fostering of a transformative student experience, one of the six core strategic themes of the SU’s Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019–2024. The use of more languages promotes access and inclusivity. Both English and Afrikaans are used as teaching languages – English so that no one is excluded, and Afrikaans because there still exists a demand for teaching in Afrikaans.

View the full Constitutional Court judgment here.
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