Students disrupt classes at Elsenburg

A small group of students supported by the Economic Freedom Party (EFF) has disrupted classes by padlocking the entrances to Elsenburg Agricultural College.

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According to reports, the group was unsatisfied with the language policy and degree of transformation at the college. They handed a memorandum to the college council in which they demanded, among others, the dismissal of Marius Paulse, principal of the college, that black staff be appointed to vacant positions, a review of the diploma programme to improve student success and that the college should supply transport for students.

The college was also closed for classes about a month ago when students boycotted classes because they were unsatisfied with the language policy. At that stage the council agreed that all classes should be presented in English to restore the peace. Afterwards, it went back to its 50/50 policy, where classes were taught in English and Afrikaans.

Petro van Rhyn, Western Cape department of agriculture spokesperson, told Farmer’s Weekly that the college council had instituted a task team to engage with students and key stakeholders to facilitate the development of a new language policy.

“We realise that having a class of forty minutes [where] the class is presented in Afrikaans during the one half and English in the other half is not working. In future we plan to have two separate classes, one in English and one in Afrikaans. Students can then choose which one they want attend,” she said.

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Van Rhyn doesn’t foresee that any of the staff will be fired, but that more black staff will be appointed as positions become vacant.

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