Panyaza Lesufi hails ConCourt’s language policy ruling: ‘Debate is officially over’

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has hailed Thursday’s Constitutional Court ruling on Stellenbosch University’s language policy.

The Court ruled that the university’s 2016 decision to give preference to English over Afrikaans as the main medium of teaching was correct.

In a Twitter post, Lesufi thanked the Court for “knocking sense to those who accused us of being anti-Afrikaans.”

He added, “The debate is now officially over – an Afrikaans-only academic institution cannot be justified.”

‘Equitable access’

The Constitutional Court said Stellenbosch University’s decision was aimed at enabling equitable access to “black students who are not conversant with Afrikaans.”

It found that retaining the previous policy that gave preference to Afrikaans would have excluded non-Afrikaans speakers from full participation at the university.

The Court stated, “The evidence also showed that separate classes in English and Afrikaans or single classes conducted in Afrikaans – with translation from Afrikaans into English – made black students not conversant in Afrikaans feel marginalised, excluded and stigmatised.”

‘Language-based university not good’

In a recent article on News24, Lesufi expressed his opposition to plans by trade union Solidarity to build an Afrikaans-only university in Centurion, Gauteng.

He argued that while he’s not opposed to Afrikaans and Afrikaner culture, such a university could “unearth another form of racism.”

“The opening of this language-based university, especially a language that was used to oppress us, is not good for the future of our country,” Lesufi wrote.

However, Solidarity has previously defended its Afrikaans-only approach at Sol-Tech, a private tertiary institution.

Speaking to IOL in September, the union’s head of research Connie Mulder said they have “no intention to discriminate according to race.”

However, he maintained that Afrikaans is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages.

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