n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Perspektiewe op Afrikaans as 'n taal vir universiteite

Volume 56 Number 4-1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



In this article the focus is on the position of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at South African universities and on its future prospects. This implies investigatory research that cannot be done in isolation, as the South African university has a long tradition which necessitates an overview of the development of the university as an institution. On the other hand, all institutions of higher learning world-wide today face the same problems and challenges, which necessarily entails reference to the current position of the university in a situation where it is deeply influenced inter alia by globalisation, state interference and financial constraints. A point of departure is that the university, since its inception, had been elitist in the sense that selected scholars taught selected students in an enclosed environment. This was the model during the Middle Ages, when the first universities proper were founded in Bologna, Oxford, Cambridge and later in Belgium (the Catholic University of Leuven in 1425) and in the Netherlands (Leiden in 1575). During Medieval times the university was subservient to the Church and its doctrines. Teaching was seen as paramount and it was only in the nineteenth century that research gained importance as a means to gather new knowledge. The founding of the University of Berlin in (1809) by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) - after whom the University later was named - was seen as an important event. Von Humboldt was a noted man of letters who was a philosopher, linguist and politician and who had a holistic approach to (tertiary) education. His ideal was Bildung, which amounted to the integration of general learning with cultural knowledge and the integration of science with research. Where the Medieval university paid homage to the Church, the University of the nineteenth century - notwithstanding its claim to academic freedom - was a product of national states and thus subservient to them, also as far as the language of instruction was concerned. Therefore one often heard the accusation that the modern university was the lackey of the state.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error