The University of Pretoria is to phase out Afrikaans as the official medium of instruction at all its campuses and residences, reports Pretoria East Rekord.
The university will from now only use English as the primary language of communication and administration.
University spokesperson Rikus Delport said the policy was adopted in 2016 by the university’s council and Senate after “extensive consultation process and recommendations from all interested parties”.
“The change in policy is aimed at facilitating social cohesion, and the university will continue to embrace and encourage multilingualism to foster unity and provide equal opportunities to speakers of all South African languages,” he said.
The consultation process included a language work stream that was formed as part of the transformation lekgotla and the independent transformation panel that focused on submissions from external stakeholders.
Delport said the decision from the various interest groups was informed by the findings that the percentage of students who reported their home language to be Afrikaans had decreased from 85% to 30% between 1992 and 2015.
“In 2016, approximately 18% of students expressed a preference for Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.”
He said even though the phasing out would take place this year, it would be done gradually to accommodate Afrikaans students.
The exception would be given where students were studying other languages, and in programmes with profession-specific language outcomes. Such programmes would have to be approved by the Senate, Delport said.
“Students who registered for the first time prior to 2019 will continue to receive lectures, tutorials, study guides and assessment material, question papers, assignments and the like, in Afrikaans,” he said.
“[This would be] for those programmes which were offered in Afrikaans at the time of enrollment, provided that the class size remains practically feasible and it is academically justifiable.”
Where assessment and question papers are set in Afrikaans, only currently enrolled students will be allowed to answer in Afrikaans.
This will not be the only change for the university this year. A new principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Tawana Kupe, is set to start his term this year.
Kupe was appointed in November last year to replace Professor Cheryl de la Rey, who resigned to take a position of vice-chancellor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.