Court moves beyond the past in favouring English

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University World News

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The South African Constitutional Court’s recent unanimous decision upholding Stellenbosch University’s policy favouring English is important in both substance and tone for its evolving narrative on language, race and historical wrongs.

To fully understand what was at stake in the case, one has to go back to Stellenbosch’s beginnings. Achieving university status in 1918, the intent was to offer higher education to Afrikaans-speaking students. As time went on, Stellenbosch became an elite stronghold of Afrikaner tradition and a major force in preserving apartheid separatism.

That history still haunts the institution even though, as of 2018, only 58.1% of the students were white and not all of them were Afrikaners.