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23/10/2017

The South African higher education sector is at a crossroads, as it is forced to introspect and rethink the manner in which universities, and the sector in general, has been operating over the years.

As a result of the country's past, the sector still bears remnants of South Africa’s colonial and apartheid history despite efforts towards a transformed higher education space began with the dawn of democracy.

While transformation efforts have been continuing in various corners albeit at a slow pace, the #FeesMustFall student protests foregrounded and placed extreme urgency on the need to meaningfully transform the sector and curriculum.

Demands for decolonization and transformation in the education sector have, in the last few years, seen a concerted effort to concretize what may have seemed like an abstract issue.

At recently renamed Nelson Mandela University, efforts to decolonize and transform the curriculum are largely driven by the Faculty of Education as custodians of educator training, among other things.

The Education Faculty is now hosting the fifth annual conference of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) at the Boardwalk Convention Centre over the next three days, under the theme Education in an Era of Decolonization and Transformation.

While the terms decolonization and transformation are not new, they remain shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty.

Educationists from around the country and world have descended on Port Elizabeth for multiple engagements aimed at zooming in on the theme – such as what it means, what is required of universities in this regard, whether decolonization and transformation can be simultaneously tackled.

The conference, running from 23 to 26 October, aims to create a space for collective dialogue about educators’ experiences and how they can work towards bringing theory and practice together in courageous and imaginative ways – that make the unknown a little bit more knowable and doable.

Nelson Mandela University’s Executive Dean of the Education Faculty, Dr Muki Moeng, said it was an opportune time to be hosting the conference.

“We are thrilled to be hosting this conference at this particular time, which is very important in higher education. It is a time to re-imagine and reshape curricula to pre-empt and respond to sustainable and transformed education in higher education,” she said.

Keynote speakers include Prof Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, who heads the Archie Mafeje Research Institute; Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Massachusetts, Prof Joao Paraskeva, who also heads the institution's Centre for Portuguese Studies; and indigenous activist and Professor of Education and Maori Development and Pro-vice Chancellor Maori, Prof Linda Tuhiwai Smith.

Prof Ndlovu-Gatsheni calls for a “fresh analysis of the decolonization process”, with his analyses going beyond an untimely celebration and uncritical analyses of the genealogy and practices of decolonization within Africa thus far.

He has authored the game changing book The Decolonial Mandela – Peace Justice and the Politics of Life and co-edited Decolonizing the University, Knowledge Systems and Disciplines in Africa.

Prof Tuhiwai Smith is a leading scholar on indigenous education and an internationally recognized guru on decolonizing methodologies.  She provides an incisive critique of the colonial hegemony that pervades research, teaching and engagement in academia.

She authored the 1999 epoch breaking book Decolonizing Methodologies.

Prof Paraskeva is a respected and renowned Global South activist known for engaging a radically different kind of decolonizing, transcontinental scholarship. He has decentered the field of curriculum and its contribution to universal knowledge and education.  

His book Conflicts in Curriculum Theory: Challenging Hegemonic Epistemologiesis described as a magnificent coup for all those who have been epistemologically and ontologically silenced and excluded through dominant canons and ways of being.

The full three-day programme is attached.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za

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