A bench of the Bloemfontein High Court today ruled that the University of the Free State (UFS) may not implement its new language policy before the university’s appeal against an earlier ruling in favour of Solidarity and AfriForum has been concluded.
In July this year, the High Court ordered the UFS to review its approval of a new language policy in terms of which Afrikaans as medium of instruction was to be phased out. This followed after AfriForum and Solidarity had approached the court to review the new language policy.
According to AfriForum Deputy Head Alana Bailey, the UFS refused to give an undertaking that the new language policy would not be implemented until the appeal had been concluded. “We had no choice but to approach the High Court with an urgent application in order to ensure that those who intended to study in Afrikaans in 2017, would actually have the right to do so.”
The High Court also granted the UFS leave to appeal to the Highest Court of Appeal should the UFS’s application for direct access to the Constitutional Court fail.
According to Johan Kruger, deputy head of Solidarity, it is clear that wherever practically feasible, the constitutional right to mother tongue education should be actively protected and claimed. “Afrikaans as medium of instruction has become a pawn in a thinly disguised political attack on Afrikaans campuses. Hard work and determination by Afrikaans speaking people who want to ensure that the language is preserved at tertiary level is now even more essential than ever before.”