Students demand English classes

Steps are to be taken against the organisers of the march after the they ’marginalised’ Prof Fika. Photo: Selogile Leshage

The battle to make English the primary medium of instruction on the NWU Potchefstroom campus gained momentum when students led by the EFFSC (Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command) and Sasco (South African Students Congress) marched last Friday.

NWU’s Potchefstroom campus is the only tertiary institution in the country that still uses Afrikaans as the main medium of instruction. The student movements and others have rejected its provision for non-Afrikaans speakers in the form of interpretation services as ineffective.

According to Masha Mogorosi, a Masters’ student, the students are demanding quality education. They believe this will be achieved if English is the medium of instruction. ‘We pay the same amount but we get second-hand information,’ he said.

Among the other demands was that there should be a 51 per cent increase in black African students on the NWU Potchefstroom campus and in the residences by 2019.

The chairperson of Sasco (South African Students Congress) Nhlanhla Mthethwa.
Photo: Selogile Leshage

The chairperson of Sasco, Nhlanhla Mthethwa read the memorandum of demands. One of the stipulations was that the deputy vice-chancellor post that was recently vacated by Prof. Fika Janse van Rensburg must be filled by a black African woman. Moreover, the students demanded that protection services personnel must undergo a compulsory workshop to be trained not to give preferential treatment to white students and subject black students to unfair victimisation and harassment.

In addition, there should be no fee increment for 2019.

‘All personnel managed by labour brokers must be made permanent. A shuttle service must be introduced for off-campus students because of the crime incidents off campus. The Student Campus Council (SCC) of the NWU must be disbanded with immediate effect. International students must be treated the same as the South African students. The bathrooms on campus should cater for the LGBTI community,’ he said.

The memorandum was submitted to the executive director for student affairs, Prof. Lumkile Lelandle. He said he would table the memorandum in the university management committee on Monday, 9 September, ‘I would like to assure you that the university management takes the issues that you have raised here seriously and will apply their mind,’ he said.

English classes now. Students want it to be the primary medium of instruction on the NWU Potchefstroom campus.
Photo: Selogile Leshage

Marchers snub Prof. Fika

The move to hand the memorandum to Prof. Lelandle was seen as a failure to honour the agreement with the management. Despite being happy and hailing the march as non-violent, Prof. Fika Janse van Rensburg posted a message on Facebook. He says contrary to what the delegation by the vice-chancellor had indicated, the campus DVC was marginalised and, in the process, identified as not worthy of receiving the memorandum.

This will necessarily have consequences. The management will investigate the matter carefully and the necessary steps will be taken; there will be consequences for the organisers of this event,’ he said.

‘Management will seriously apply its mind to the matters listed in the memorandum. It will handle them in such a way and in the feedback also indicate that the management will not abdicate or allow itself to be prescribed to. Rather, the management considers all matters brought by stakeholders. It will make informed decisions and communicate these decisions and bring it into practice under the governance supervision of our Council. ‘To this end, a message to all our students, the parents, the alumni and our staff: We have everything in hand. Our University is in a good place.

We will keep on directing ourselves according to our strategy and manage our good University accordingly. Therefore, be assured that our management knows its responsibility, that it has the ability to discipline and that it has the will to ensure discipline,’ he said.

The feedback is expected to be given next Tuesday and the students will be marching again to hear what the management has to say.

Selogile Leshage

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