Title page for ETD etd-11132008-181716

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Esakov, Heidi-Jane
URN etd-11132008-181716
Document Title Reading race : the curriculum as a site of transformation
Degree MEd
Department Curriculum Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof N D Roos Supervisor
  • higher education institutions
  • identity
  • race
  • culture
  • critical theory
  • knowledge
  • post-apartheid
  • curriculum
  • social transformation
Date 2008-09-03
Availability unrestricted

Transformation of post-apartheid higher education institutions has shown itself to be deeply complex and contentious. Exploring transformation at a former whites-only Afrikaans university, this study leans on Michel Foucaultís archaeological methodology and uses a qualitative case study approach. In accordance with this methodological approach the study excavates, de-layers and probes at an inter-departmental conflict which ensued over how racial identity is being re-imagined within the curriculum. The study further seeks to explore what this conflict says about institutional ideologies and commitments to change.

Ostensibly, the conflict was over the contents of a module, the Ubuntu Module, presented at both the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Humanities. Contested views on the nature of knowledge presented in the module, which deals overtly and explicitly with racial and cultural identity, emerged between the two faculties. The Faculty of Education removed the module from its curriculum, asserting that itsí contents were antithetical to the facultyís ideological tenets with regards to curriculum transformation. Amid attempts by the Faculty of Education to have the module removed from the universityís curriculum, the Faculty of Humanities took the decision to continue offering the module. What this study suggests is that the debate went beyond a mere inter-faculty contention over curriculum contents, and can offer a lens into broader institutional transformation ideologies, and commitments to the decommissioning of apartheid identities.

The study was explored and analysed through the lens of critical theory, and in so doing it offers a critical look at the intellectual and ideological foundations of the university, and how the university navigates transformation in post-apartheid South Africa. The literature review uses eclectic literatures to historicise and contextualise the study. It underscores how the focus of literature on curriculum transformation on post-apartheid higher educational institutions has essentially skimmed over the links between the inherent dynamics of knowledge and power as is reflected in curriculum contents. As the findings of the study point to, pressures exerted on the university from both government, and grassroots level at the university, that being students and staff, are having an unequivocal impact on how the university thinks about and implements transformation. The findings of the study suggest that although rhetorically committed to transformation, the university is struggling to emerge from its own politically instrumentalist past.

© University of Pretoria 2008

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