Accepted Paper:

The case for higher education: negotiating a decolonial social contract in the South African academy  


Mlamuli Hlatshwayo (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Paper long abstract:

South African universities continue to face existential questions regarding what it means to decolonize and transform into epicenters of social justice, democratic thought and belonging. Prevalent in the existential crisis, is the presupposed idea that the purposes of the university needs to be redefined and a new social contract is required. What appears to be at be center of the crisis, is the long held view that the university continues to be space of marginality, epistemic Otehring and the "thingification" for those who occupy and possess different ontological identities. In this paper, I provide a critical reflection on the potential (decolonial) purposes of higher education, and call for what I term a "decolonial social contract" in responding to the pressing, structural demands made by the #RhodesMustFall, civil society, progressive academics and others in calling for the contemporary university to transform and decolonize. Through the introduction of the decolonial social contract, I argue that the South African university is still a relevant institution in not only responding to the needs of the market place, but for the social construction of the critical citizenship that is required during these contested times in the global South. I end this paper with some philosophical and empirical recommendations regarding the potential possibilities for the decolonial social contract in the South African academy (and beyond) for the state and its relationship to society, curricula, pedagogy and assessment practices.

Panel B07
Decolonising higher education in Africa: disciplinary and pedagogical Issues [initiated by the University of Ghana at Legon]