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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - 'n Universiteit se taalbeleid as 'n uitdrukking van grondwetlik-beskermde diversiteit
The language policy of a university as an expression of constitutionally protected diversity
The language policies of universities are discussed within the context of the recognition and protection afforded in the constitution to linguistic, cultural and religious diversity. Accordingly, reference is made to applicable international law, from which some of the relevant constitutional provisions are derived, and the political context within which universities have to determine their language policies. The constitutional provisions relating to language are discussed, including the phrase "where reasonably practicable" in section 29(2), the condition for the provision of education in the language of people's choice. Factors are identified that may be considered in determining whether such education is indeed reasonably practicable. This discussion is followed by a set of guidelines that should be followed in determining a language policy for a university. The conclusion is that the language policy of a university is subject to the constitution and must therefore comply with the language and other provisions of the constitution. In a multilingual environment that means that a university may not impose unilingualism upon its students and staff, and that the necessary interpreting and translation facilities must accordingly be provided. Nobody at such an institution should ever feel that they may not use their own language or that another language is being imposed on them. It is the responsibility of universities to create an accommodating, multilingual culture in order to empower more people. That is the proper way in which universities should give effect to the letter and spirit of the language provisions of the constitution and should recognise the constitutionally protected diversity of the South African society.
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