The University of Pretoria is Abandoning Afrikaans as its Medium of Instruction
A 50 percent drop in the students whose mother tongue is Afrikaans reportedly prompted the change.
According to EWN, as of this year, students who register at the University of Pretoria (UP) will receive all educational material and lectures in English as the university has made the decision to phase out Afrikaans.
Afrikaans is one of South Africa's eleven official languages and came about following the colonization of the Cape by the Dutch. However, the language has a complex and painful history as its forefathers, the Afrikaners, devised the hateful Apartheid system whose ingenuity even till this day, is largely responsible for the desperate plight of many Black South Africans.
Speaking on the decision, UP's spokesperson Rikus Delport said:
"It's aimed at facilitating social cohesion on the campus. We will continue to encourage multilingualism to foster unity and provide equal opportunities for students of all South African languages. We encourage the practice of assisting students in their home language where possible."
The infamous 1976 student uprisings in Soweto were in response to Black learners being forced to be taught in Afrikaans, the language of their White oppressors. Whilst the language of instruction at most universities in the country is now English, universities such as UP, Potchefstroom University and Stellenbosch University, have desperately held onto the language with the latter university not likely to change its stance any time soon despite several court cases.
One of the main arguments that has been used to support the abandonment of Afrikaans, has been that of the deliberate exclusion of Black students from universities on the basis of language. There have been many stories of Black students being told to go study elsewhere if they cannot understand Afrikaans as if it were not their Constitutional right to access education in a language they can understand.
Yesterday, the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni received heavy criticism after he tweeted that in his personal capacity, he did not support UP's decision to abandon Afrikaans as a language of instruction.