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      The South African higher education transformation debate: culture, identity and 'African ways of knowing'

      research-article
      London Review of Education
      IOE Press
      AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE, CULTURE, HIGHER EDUCATION, IDENTITY, TRANSFORMATION
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            Abstract

            Following the first democratic election in South Africa in 1994, there has been a strong drive towards democratising education at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary. The present paper examines some of the key ideas in the debate around transformation in higher education in South Africa, namely the notions of an African essence, culture and identity, as well as African knowledge systems. It contends that neither the idea of the 'essence of Africa' nor an emphasis on 'African culture and identity' constitutes an appropriate theoretical framework for conceptualising change in higher educational thought and practice in South Africa, the major problems turning on issues around essentialism and cultural relativism. Similarly, the post-colonialist and anti-discrimination discourse underpinning 'African ways of knowing' is unfortunately riddled with problems, logical and epistemological. While the present contribution is sympathetic to the basic concerns articulated in the respective debates, especially around the significance of indigenous languages, it offers both conceptual clarification as well as a critical (re-)evaluation of the pertinent issues. Thus, 'African knowledge' is argued to be a misnomer that raises more problems than it can conceivably solve. What its proponents hope to achieve is arguably better achieved by an emphasis on restorative justice that locates the principle of reconciliation within a basic framework of human rights.

            Content

            Author and article information

            Journal
            10430
            London Review of Education
            IOE Press
            1474-8460
            01 March 2009
            : 7
            : 1
            : 3-15
            Article
            1474-8460(20090301)7:1L.3;1- s2.phd /ioep/clre/2009/00000007/00000001/art00002
            10.1080/14748460802700512
            7a3b1fba-7855-44b9-831a-795494e8fdd1
            Product
            Categories
            Articles

            Education,Assessment, Evaluation & Research methods,Educational research & Statistics,General education
            CULTURE,HIGHER EDUCATION,AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE,TRANSFORMATION,IDENTITY

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