Delegates at the Decolonisation Workshop.
“Decolonisation of the Curriculum within Institutions of Higher Learning” was the topic of discussion at a first of its kind workshop recently organised by the Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Law and Management Studies.
According to the College Dean of Teaching and Learning Professor Betty Mubangizi, discussions within Higher Education Institutions around decolonisation of the curriculum have been given traction by the #FeesMustFall campaign which gripped the country last year.
‘At the heart of the campaign was a call for free quality and decolonised education for all students in South Africa’s institutions of higher learning. Academics in South African universities are grappling for a common understanding of what a decolonised education might mean and are doing so through dialogue with students and various stakeholders. It is in that context that the College of Law and Management Studies has initiated this discussion,’ she said.
Mubangizi added that while discussions are still at a formative stage within the College, there is a growing consensus that decolonising education is not about replacing western theorists and authors with African ones. Nor is it viewing curriculum from the narrow perspective of curriculum as content.
‘A decolonised curriculum should concern itself with how to create understandings and practices that are contextually relevant and responsive as reflected in a broad categorisation of curriculum as a product, process, context and product,’ she said.
The workshop was attended by representatives from all four Schools of the College including a member of the Student Representative Council who discussed and shared her views in a question and answer session that took place during the course of the day’s proceedings.
In his argument about why decolonisation of the curriculum is a necessity in South Africa’s diverse Higher Education Institutions, Professor Hassan Kaya, the Director and Research Leader of the DST-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), argued that decolonisation can be achieved by introducing IKS in Higher Education Institutions. He highlights that in universities, a Western Knowledge systems approach is used more than an African Indigenous Knowledge System approach.
‘Western knowledge systems are too foreign for African universities because they emerged out of foreign educational and academic tradition. African universities have a Eurocentric dominance in research, teaching and learning. Africa’s contributions, over the centuries, to history, science and technology and civilization is openly missing in formal education,’ he said.
Furthermore Professor Kaya believes that in order to decolonise the curriculum we must complement both the Western and African knowledge systems and not have one that is more dominant than the other.
Beyond this workshop, participants agreed on strategies to monitor future discussions on the subject, cascade the discussions to Schools and Disciplines and on practical strategies of implementing a decolonised curriculum in the College.