Constitutional Court resets the narrative on Afrikaans

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University World News

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In its long-awaited decision in Chairperson of the Council of UNISA v AfriForum NPC, the South African Constitutional Court recently struck down the policy, adopted by the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 2016, to phase out Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s official languages, and effectively make English the sole medium of instruction.

The 82-page unanimous ruling in late September, written in English and Afrikaans, is noteworthy for what it says about the constitutional failings of the UNISA policy and what the institution must do to remedy them.

It is especially important and potentially consequential for the clarity it offers on the Afrikaans language, its complicated history and its current role in a multilingual South Africa that still struggles to overcome the view of Afrikaans as the language of white supremacy.