The new concept language policy for higher education is cool, according to minority rights group AfriForum.
After disagreeing with everybody and everything for as long as this movement has been in existence, AfriForum now says in their commentary on the concept language policy for higher education that it actually welcomes “the majority of the suggestions” in this document. This concept policy was published in the Government Gazette and public commentary thereon was allowed until 13 April 2018.
This document is supposed to ultimately serve as guideline for the formulation of the language policies for all public higher education institutions.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, it is “heartening” that the concept policy inter alia: recognises that Afrikaans is an indigenous South African language; promotes language performance and good relationships within education institutions; and determines that an approach is necessary that does not only favour English – to the benefit of about 90% of the country’s residents whose mother tongue is not English.
In the commentary that was submitted, AfriForum among other things emphasises that research proves that students’ academic progress, mutual tolerance and loyalty towards learning institutions and the country is promoted when their mother language is used, cherished and endorsed on a campus. However, where students’ language is not used as the language of instruction, it leads to estrangement of and disassociation with institutions and other students.
“AfriForum recommends that multilingualism be promoted through the subsidising thereof on campuses and through rewarding lecturers who can provide multilingual tutelage,” says Bailey.
AfriForum is awaiting judgment in the case against the Unisa management who in 2016 decided on a unilingual English language policy for this institution. Bailey is of the opinion that, should the judge take notice of this directive concept policy, the judgment cannot possibly favour a unilingual English language policy.
She expresses the hope that the concept language policy will be accepted without too many intervening amendments and that the necessary political will and funding will be made available to bring it to fruition.