Students win racism battle

Student protesters at the Stellenbosch University have won the right to be taught English in their institution.

South Africa students protest

The students have accused the institution, which was the intellectual home of Afrikaners during apartheid, of remaining racist 21 years after the first democratic elections brought liberation icon Nelson Mandela to power.

They protested the fact that Afrikaans was the language of oppression and its use as the teaching medium disadvantaged blacks.

“Since English is the common language in South Africa, all learning at Stellenbosch University will be facilitated in English,” the rector’s management team said in a statement."

This is not to say that the students want the discontinuation of the teaching of Afrikaans in the school. According to school management, the institution “remains committed to the further development of Afrikaans” as an academic language.

“The radical change from (using) Afrikaans as the primary tool for oppression and exclusion, to adopting a language shared by all as the official language, is a significant victory in this struggle for access to education,” the movement said in a statement.

“We remember those who died for this to become possible in the long years of struggle against apartheid. In particular we remember the students of 1976.”

In that year, black high school pupils in Soweto rebelled against attempts to introduce Afrikaans as the medium of instruction, an uprising seen as a major turning point in the fight against apartheid.

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