The number of people that speak Afrikaans in South Africa will increase to just over 7 million by 2031. This is almost 270,000 more than recorded during the 2011 census. This increase will span both coloured and white Afrikaans speakers.
These are some of the surprising findings from a demographics report published by the Solidarity Research Institute.
The report also found that the exodus of Afrikaners abroad is smaller than expected and that many Afrikaans speakers who have lived abroad are nou returning to South Africa.
According to Dr. Dirk Hermann, head of the Solidarity movement, his organisation represents around 500,000 people, most of whom states that Afrikaans is their first language. “To properly plan we decided to do a comprehensive demographic study. With this information we can determine what kind of community services, such as schools and tertiary education institutions, will be required by the Afrikaans community. The findings surprised us. The numbers do not indicate a community that’s on the decline. Afrikaners and Afrikaans are here to stay and the community must take responsibility to create a future for them.”
Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute, says the overall conclusion can be drawn from the report that the numbers of Afrikaners specifically, and Afrikaans speakers in general, are on the rise… “Over 12 years, South Africa will host more than 7 million Afrikaners and Afrikaans speakers. The Afrikaner population will increase slightly in absolute numbers to as much as 2.7 million and then slowly slow down. It is more and more people than the total population of Namibia, Botswana or even Hawaii, which means that these languages and cultures should be looked after.”
The report further shows that the 2011 census shows that there is a significant increase in the number of children under five among the white Afrikaans speaking population. In order to confirm this phenomenon, baptismal figures from churches were requested. Although membership of churches has diminished, the baptism-per-member ratio of the churches increased from about 0.0114 per member in 2003 to 0.0135. In simple terms, it implies that more children are baptised per member.
Due to the larger number of children, there was an increase in kindergartens after 2011 and a greater demand for primary schools in Afrikaans areas. Between 2020 and 2030 there will also be a greater demand for Afrikaans high schools and finally by 2030, a greater demand for tertiary education in Afrikaans.
“The Solidarity Movement is already launching its Schools Support Center, Akademia and Sol-Tech to provide in educational needs of members of the Afrikaans community. Further plans are also being made to meet existing needs and to meet the needs that may still develop. The figures are encouraging…we have a duty to the children to build a future for them, “Hermann said.
According to Mulder, research indicates that not only the birth rates among Afrikaners have increased, but that the withdrawal of Afrikaners from South Africa is also considerably less than previously suspected. “Furthermore, it is significant that in 2011 more 30-year-old Afrikaners were in South Africa than the 20-year-olds in the last censorship survey in 2001. As people are not born at 30, there must be a statement for this abnormal growth. One possible explanation is that people of this age returned to South Africa (from abroad) as their children reached school going age, “Mulder said.
According to the report, this conclusion is supported by immigration figures as reflected by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD). According to the OECD, the number of South Africans living in countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand remains relatively stable at around 500 000. “From the data it is clear that people emigrate, but not in the numbers previously expected. In addition, this figure fluctuates – every now and then it increases and then decreases, indicating that these South Africans return, “Mulder explains.