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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

UFS welcomes Constitutional Court’s ruling on its Language Policy
2017-12-29



The executive management of the University of the Free State (UFS) welcomes today’s judgement by the Constitutional Court in favour of the university’s Language Policy. The judgement follows an appeal lodged by AfriForum against the judgement and order delivered by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on the implementation of the UFS Language Policy on 28 March 2017. 
 
In a majority ruling, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng denied AfriForum’s application for leave to appeal the SCA’s ruling, and said the UFS Council’s approval of the Language Policy was lawful and constitutionally valid. The court found that the adoption of the Language Policy was neither inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, nor did it violate the Constitutional rights of any students and/or staff members of the UFS.
 
Today’s landmark judgement is not only paving the way for the UFS to continue with the implementation plan for its Language Policy as approved by the UFS Council on 11 March 2016, but it is also an indication of the value which the university’s decision to change its Language Policy to English as primary medium of instruction has on higher education in South Africa.
 
“The judgement by the Constitutional Court is not a victory against Afrikaans as language. The UFS will continue to develop Afrikaans as an academic language. A key feature of the UFS Language Policy is flexibility and the commitment to strive for a truly multilingual environment. Today’s judgement allows the UFS to proceed with the implementation of its progressive approach to a language-rich environment that is committed to multilingualism,” says Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.
 
According to Prof Petersen, the UFS is dedicated to the commitments in the Language Policy and, in particular, to make sure that language development is made available to students in order to ensure their success as well as greater levels of academic literacy – especially in English. This includes contributing to the development of Sesotho and isiZulu as higher-education languages within the context of the needs of the different UFS campuses.
 
“We can now continue to ensure that language is not used or perceived as a tool for the social exclusion of staff and/or students on any of the three campuses, and continue to promote a pragmatic learning and administrative environment committed to and accommodative to linguistic diversity within the regional, national, and international environments in which the UFS operates,” says Prof Petersen.
 
The UFS is the first university in South Africa appearing before the Constitutional Court regarding its Language Policy. 
 
During 2017, the Faculties of Health Sciences, the Humanities, and Law started with the implementation of the new Language Policy at first-year level. This includes the presentation of tutorials in Afrikaans. The remaining faculties will start implementing the policy as from 2018.

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 51 444 6393

Related articles:
UFS welcomes unanimous judgement about its Language Policy in the Supreme Court of Appeal (28 March 2017)
Judgement in the Supreme Court of Appeal about UFS Language Policy (17 November 2016)
Implications of new Language Policy for first-year students in 2017 (17 October 2016)
UFS to proceed with appealing to Supreme Court of Appeal regarding new Language Policy (29 September 2016)
UFS to lodge application to appeal judgment about new Language Policy (22 July 2016)
High Court ruling about new UFS Language Policy (21 July 2016)
UFS Council approves a new Language Policy (11 March 2016)

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