UFS students’ have finally won their long and somewhat violent battle to have the main language of instruction at the university changed from Afrikaans. English is now the main language of instruction, reports Times Live.
This was a unanimous decision reached by the university’s council, and the new language policy will come into effect next year.
As of 2017, every UFS student will be taught in English. Students already enrolled at the University will continue their degrees in Afrikaans as per the conditions of their enrolment.
Lacea Loader, spokesperson for the university, has emphasised that there will be certain exceptions. Afrikaans will remain the main language of instruction for those who are studying to teach Afrikaans, and students of theology who are looking to minister in traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches.
“This arrangement must not undermine the values of inclusivity and diversity endorsed by the UFS,” Loader said in a statement.
This is the kind of change we have been advocating
In an interview with Times Live, Alana Bailey, spokesperson for AfriForum, said the organisation is in complete disagreement with the decision because it does not take into account the demographics.
“We believe the Bloemfontein campus students still prefer Afrikaans, given the area’s demographics, and at least one of the three campuses should offer Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. In the long run, English will be the only language catered for. There needs to be promotion of Afrikaans and Sesotho,” Bailey argued.
She added that AfriForum is considering challenging the decision through the courts.
UFS Student Representative Council President Lindokuhle Ntuli, on the other hand, fully supports the decision.
“This is the kind of change we have been advocating. We have witnessed division and racial debacles under the parallel medium,” Ntuli said in a statement.
In the words of Higher Education Transformation Network National Spokesman Hendrick Makaneta, this might not be a complete victory as far as the broader spectrum of transformation is concerned, but it surely is a big start.
Students at the University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbosch have also protested for this kind of change, but neither institution has reached consensus on language policy issues.