ANC still views Afrikaans as a barrier to access to higher education

Dr. Wynand Boshoff

It became evident that the ANC still sees Afrikaans as a barrier to access to higher education from the response to a parliamentary question that the FF Plus asked the deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mr Buti Manamela.

The question, however, was what measures the government has put in place to empower other indigenous languages instead of stripping Afrikaans of its functions. In response Manamela said that in the previous dispensation, other indigenous languages were disadvantaged in favour of Afrikaans.

He also referred to a project by the North West University to digitise all official languages and UniZulu, which uses Zulu as an additional medium of instruction.

Based on his answer, it seems that Manamela is unaware of the fact that the Centre for the Development of Sesotho at the University of the Free State was closed in 2009. The sole purpose of the Centre was to develop Sesotho for use on the level of higher education.

Ten years after the Centre was closed, the University of the Free State has become monolingual English (with the exception of a few courses) for the sake of so-called accessibility.

The implication of Manamela's response is that all other languages, apart from English, are considered a barrier to the access to higher education.

The FF Plus respects and appreciates the value of English as an academic language. The point, however, is that access to higher education must be established by means of developing more mother tongues to that level and not vice versa.

Manamela has confirmed that the ANC is merely paying multilingualism lip service while English enjoys preference at the expense of the other official languages.

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