A decision by University of Pretoria to drop Afrikaans as a language of instruction has been criticised by South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
The university, which is based in the capital, Pretoria, said English would be used as the main language of instruction.
Mr Mboweni tweeted that the university “will regret” its decision.
The university’s spokesperson Rikus Delport said the number of students registering Afrikaans as their home language decreased by more than 50%, prompting the change.
Mr Delport said the change – adopted in 2016 after “extensive extensive consultation from all interested parties” – would make the traditionally Afrikaans university be more inclusive.
Civil rights group AfriForum – which champions white-minory interests – said the decision undermined “social cohesion”:
“AfriForum finds it worrisome that the university, notwithstanding many international research projects and expert opinions, still does not understand that unilingual education, in fact, undermines social cohesion and increases the potential for conflict and student non-performance.”
South Africa’s top six mother-tongue languages:
Zulu:22.7%, Xhosa:16%, Afrikaans:13.5%, English:9.6%, Setswana:8%, Sesotho:7.6%
South Africa has 11 official languages altogether
English is the most commonly spoken language used officially and in busines