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CPUT allegedly changes exam language

Cape Town - Students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) agricultural campus in Wellington are allegedly being told that they must write their final exams in English after three years of writing in Afrikaans.

Civils rights organisation AfriForum said in a statement on Tuesday it was considering legal action against the institution after repeatedly trying to get answers from vice-chancellor Prins Nevhutalu, but to no avail.

CPUT said it would respond in detail to the allegations on Wednesday.

The AfriForum statement was issued on behalf of a group of parents and students who wish to remain anonymous, but feel that CPUT’s decision to change the language of the exams should have been communicated to them sooner than just a few weeks ago.

AfriForum’s statement said if it did not get a response from CPUT, it would be forced to take legal action.

Head of education campaigns for AfriForum Carien Bloem said it was waiting for a response from CPUT as it would like the problem to be resolved.

Bloem said AfriForum wanted reasons why the question papers could not be bilingual, as well as why students could begin their courses in Afrikaans but not then finish them in Afrikaans.

Bloem said students had asked if they could answer in Afrikaans even if the questions were in English, but they had been told that was not allowed.

She said parents had phoned the campus, but with no success. Afri-Forum had also repeatedly written to the campus, but no response had been forthcoming.

“Studies have definitely been affected by this,” said Bloem.

“Some students are already having to redo subjects because they aren’t able to write their exams in a way that is comfortable.”

In the past students had been taught in Afrikaans and had submitted homework in Afrikaans. Many of them felt they could not express themselves properly in English.

Having to retake exams not only cost valuable time, but was also a financial burden.

CPUT spokesman Thami Nkwanyane said on Tuesday the institution would not be able to respond to the allegations.

He, however, committed to responding on Wednesday, saying that the individuals responsible for answering the questions had been “locked in meetings”.

Bloem said: “We just want CPUT to state the situation.”

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