Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has divided opinion following a column on News24 arguing that the establishment of an Afrikaans university will “perpetuate racist agendas”, with many criticising what they see as his lack of understanding of the constitution.
The constitution says: “Everyone has a right to received education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practical”.
It also says: “Everyone has the right to establish and maintain, at their own expense, independent educational institutions” as long as they don’t discriminate on racial grounds, are registered with the state and maintain standards that are “not inferior” to comparable public institutions.
Lesufi, however, argues that the university would be a disgrace to the constitution.
“The post-apartheid education policy is based on the constitution, and among its objectives are the redressing of past imbalances and the addressing of education based on race,” he writes.
“Over 25 years into our democratic dispensation, any school district, university or tertiary institution that wishes to short-change students is anathema to our society and a disgrace to the constitution of the republic,” he further wrote.
“Lest we forget that this Afrikaans only university was conceived soon after the Constitutional Court saw nothing wrong with the universities of South Africa, Pretoria, Free State, Stellenbosch and Potchefstroom, in changing their language policies to accommodate all South Africans,” he wrote elsewhere in the column.
Some, however, feel he hasn’t adequately shown how the establishment of an Afrikaans university would violate the constitution.
The column can be read here.
Union Solidarity officially started construction on its new Sol-Tech university campus in Centurion last week.
The project is set to cost about R300 million funded through donations from the community, the union said.
The university will be home to Solidarity’s accredited, Afrikaans private vocational training college founded on Christian values.
The campus is the first of the major projects the union would embark on over the next five years to boost education and employment to the tune of R4.5 billion, Centurion Rekord reported.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)