Final draft of SU Language Policy (2021) completed for approval
The revision of Stellenbosch University’s Language Policy (2016) has reached its final milestones
en route to the tabling of the final draft of the revised policy for Council's consideration and approval on 2 December 2021.
The Language Policy Revision Task Team completed the final draft of the revised language policy after considering the input received on the second draft during the second public participation phase, as well as the feedback received from faculty boards, the Institutional Forum, Senate and Council.
As section 27(2) of the Higher Education Act (Act No 101 of 1997, as amended) and the Stellenbosch University Statute (2019) stipulate that the SU Council must determine the institution's language policy with the concurrence of Senate, the final draft will also be tabled at the Senate meeting on 26 November 2021. Prior to this Senate meeting the final draft of the revised policy will also serve at the respectice faculty board meetings in October/November, as well as the Institutional Forum on 12 November 2021. If the final draft of the
Language Policy (2021) is approved by Council in December 2021 it will be implemented in 2022.
Internal and external interested parties were invited to participate in the second phase (July/August 2021) for public consultation of the language revision. All contributions were included in the second response report, and considered for inclusion in the final draft. This followed after the Language Policy Revision Task Team compiled a first draft of the revised policy early in the year and released the document for public input in March/April 2021. All the contributions received during this first public participation phase were included in the first response report, and considered for possible inclusion in the second draft of the revised policy which was also released for public input.
The task team considered all the input received during the two consultation phases, but it has not been possible to include all the contributions in the various versions of the revised policy leading up to the final draft.
In addition to the other contextual documents available on this webpage, the following documents (from left to right at the top of this page) are important for the final phase of the revision of the Language Policy (2016):
Timeline and milestones
The language revision process was initiated in October 2020 by convening a task team and proposing a timeline based on the University Almanac for 2021. The 2021 revision forms part of the mandatory five-year revision cycle prescribed in the Language Policy (2016) itself. Paragraph 10 of the Language Policy (2016) stipulates that the policy “lapses five years after the date of its implementation" and that it “must be reviewed during its fifth year of operation". The current policy was implemented at the beginning of 2017.
The objective is to table a final draft Language Policy (2021) for approval by Council on 2 December this year. The milestones in the timeline focus on the scheduled meetings of Senate, the Institutional Forum and Council, as well as the two public participation processes. Steps one to seven of the timeline and milestones (see timeline above) have been completed, including both public participation phases.
The second public participation phase followed the same process as the first consultation phase in March/April 2021. All contributions will be considered, but as for the first round, it will not be possible to include all input in the final draft of the revised Language Policy. Senate and Council will consider the second draft of the revised Language Policy and the second response report at their respective meetings on 10 September and 27 September 2021.
Below from left to right are the documents relevant to the second public participation phase:
• Response Report: second public participation (22 August 2021)
• Second draft of the revised policy after due consideration of comment received during the first public participation phase and the internal SU consultation;
• Version of the second draft of revised policy that indicates the changes made and comments by the task team based on the feedback received on the first draft;
• Context document for the revision of the Language Policy (2016).
As part of the second public participation phase, SU made the information considered by the Language Policy Revision Task Team during the revision available to the public. The Context document for the revision of the Language Policy (2016) provides a broad overview of the process and timeline; the international and national higher education context, the Stellenbosch University context; the implementation costs of various language scenarios and the Rectorate's perspective of multilingualism and the SU Language Policy (2016). Interested parties can also refer to the contextual documents listed below for more detailed information.
Higher Education context
Various language surveys were conducted after the implementation of the Language Policy (2016) since 2017. Undergraduate students were invited to comment on their experience of language usage inside and outside the classroom in March 2017, and again in September 2017. In July 2019 two language surveys were conducted. For students this included a follow-up survey among undergraduate students (similar to the 2017 surveys) and a new postgraduate student survey to request feedback on their experience of language usage in the living, co-curricular and administrative environments. In the same period a separate survey on language usage in the learning and working environment was conducted among staff.
Stellenbosch University (SU) invited interested parties to comment on the first draft of a revised language policy in March/April this year as part of the five-year revision cycle prescribed in the Language Policy (2016) itself. Paragraph 10 of the Language Policy (2016) stipulates that the policy “lapses five years after the date of its implementation" and that it “must be reviewed during its fifth year of operation". The current policy was implemented at the beginning of 2017.
The first public participation period started on 20 March and closed on 12 April 2021. Since the Constitutional Court in 2019 found the Language Policy (2016) to be constitutionally justified and the University's process in adopting the policy “thorough, exhaustive, inclusive and properly deliberative", the current policy has been used as the point of departure for the revision process.
The revision is informed further by, amongst others, the SU Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019–2024, which has been adopted and implemented after the Language Policy (2016) was approved, as well as the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions determined in terms of section 27(2) of the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act101 of 1997 as amended). Refer to the Context document for the revision of the Language Policy (2016) for more information.
From left to right:
The Response Report containing comment from the public received during the first public participation phase in March/April 2021
First draft of the revised Language Policy (2016) that was published for public comment
The current Language Policy (2016)
Afrikaans as indigenous language
The National Language Policy Framework for Higher Education Institutions (the National Policy) promulgated by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in October 2020, defines indigenous languages as “languages that have their heritage roots in Africa (also referred to as African languages in literature and some policy documents) that belong to the Southern Bantu language family, where 'Bantu' is used purely as a linguistic term. An indigenous language is a language that is native to a region or country and spoken by indigenous people".
In response to the exclusion of Afrikaans from the classification of indigenous languages in the National Policy, the SU Council accepted the following motion at its meeting on 21 June 2021: “SU has taken note with concern of the Department of Higher Education and Training's classification (of Afrikaans) in the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions. SU supports the view that Afrikaans and the Khoe and San languages are indigenous languages. Council requests SU's management to take appropriate steps to engage with the DHET to address this issue."
In its comprehensive feedback on the Department of Higher Education and Training's draft revised Language Policy for Higher Education (2017), Stellenbosch University supported the position that Afrikaans is an indigenous language of South Africa. Universities were not given an opportunity to comment on the final version of the National Policy promulgated in October 2020. SU also brought the matter to the attention of Universities South Africa (USAf) as it is not known whether any of the other South African universities have had the opportunity to consider the practical and cost implications of the National Policy.