The School of Education recently hosted a Decolonising Teacher Education seminar at the Edgewood campus. The event is part of the Dean’s seminar series that aims to initiate dialogue on a range of issues affecting the education sector.
Dean of the School, Professor Thabo Msibi said, ‘We plan to engage robustly on pressing education issues and respond to the questions of the moment and in turn transform teaching methods and research.’
Presenting the first keynote address of the day was Professor Loretta Feris, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation at the University of Cape Town. She spoke on decolonisation and why Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to decolonise. ‘It is a call for access to education out of the legacy of colonisation and apartheid, deep-seated poverty, structural inequalities and systemic crime and violence in our country,’ she said.
Feris further spoke on universities as places of learning, contestation, marginalisation; the opportunities for universities to decolonise and the challenges that HEIs continue to face. Feris also addressed graduate identity in terms of decolonised education, advising that queer, feminist and African voices should appear in the curriculum.
Dr Muki Moeng, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at the Nelson Mandela University (NMMU) then reflected on the journey of decolonising a Faculty of Education through the BEd Foundation phase programme (curriculum decolonisation).
She talked about the new R56m building that was deliberately chosen as the Missionvale Campus for the location of the re-curriculated Foundation Phase programme. It is situated in the township, close to a large number of primary schools in Zwide, Missionvale and New Brighton.
Moeng said its location complements the Foundation Phase programme’s practice of partnering with schools that face the challenges that need to be be addressed in South Africa and in which education and teacher education can make positive change.
The hope is that graduates will take up posts in the surrounding areas, in the schools where they are needed most, and where they can make the most difference. The overall structure provides the means to bridge the gap between the privileged and underprivileged while dispelling stereotypes and addressing decolonisation.
Professor Nokhanyo Makhanya, also from the Nelson Mandela University, discussed preparing English and Afrikaans first language students for communicative competence in an African language (decolonising the mind). She argued that African languages have a pedagogical relevance in the South African classroom hence teachers need to be capacitated to “border- cross” between languages.
‘I believe that in rethinking a decolonised language curriculum the focus should be on how curriculum developers could capacitate English and/or Afrikaans student teachers to use an African language as required by the goals of language in a particular classroom context,’ said Makhanya.
UKZN Academics that also presented at the seminar were:
- Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Professor Daisy Pillay, Dr Inba Naicker and Dr Lungile Masinga: Decolonising Methodology: Creativity in Research Method
- Professors Carol Bertram and Vitallis Chikoko provided a critical response to the presentations, while Professor Murthi Maistry directed the programme for the day
Msibi stated that the next series of seminars will kick off in 2018 with more discussions on decolonisation and other related topics. In order to act more responsively to the needs of the province, the School would also be launching colloquia addressing pressing issues in education, and drawing from multiple stakeholders. The first colloquium will focus on corporal punishment.
Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo