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Decolonising the University Curriculum in South Africa: A Case Study of the University of the Free State
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In the aftermath of the 2015-2016 student protests on South African university campuses, many universities are struggling with how to respond to the demands put forward by students to end epistemic violence and decolonise curriculum. The following research is an abductive case study, investigating the process of decolonising curriculum in higher education at the University of the Free State in South Africa through the perspectives of staff and lecturers. The views of staff and lecturers are captured through 12 semi-structured interviews and analysed with the help of a framework by Jansen (2017a), based on six conceptions of decolonisation. The findings reveal that the UFS appears to be taking an approach to decolonising the university curriculum that primarily is concerned with adding on to curriculum or placing Africa at the centre. In taking these approaches, the university risks implementing changes that will result in superficial changes, instead of seeing curriculum as a strand influenced by many other equally important issues which indirectly can assist in decolonising it. Moreover, decolonial changes at the UFS are found to be slow and despite some important progress, the question remains if it is deep enough to truly move towards a genuine epistemic openness. Regarding decolonial teaching methods, findings demonstrated incredibly diverse understandings among the informants, indicating that the UFS has not clearly communicated a way forward. Finally, the interviews revealed that the majority of the informants did not feel confident to teach in a decolonial way. If a decolonial pedagogy is essential for the curriculum to be decolonized, as is argued in earlier literature, then the sample group in this study indicates that most lecturers at the UFS are not well prepared to respond to this. 

The study concludes that achieving a decolonised curriculum at the UFS is something which cannot be accomplished at a moment but the findings indicate that there are some progressive forces around the university which may speed up transformation. The study further concludes that the paper has reached some insights on barriers to transformation and the challenges that lay ahead for academics if the university is to truly decolonise the university curriculum.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 54
Keywords [en]
Higher Education, Decolonisation, Curriculum, Social Justice, Pedagogy
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-88994OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-88994DiVA, id: diva2:1348966
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-09 Created: 2019-09-06 Last updated: 2019-09-09Bibliographically approved

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