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Education in post-apartheid South Africa: Towards liberation or equity?

Tsoaledi Daniel Thobejane, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This research examines the educational history of Blacks under apartheid, the educational philosophies of different strands of the anti-apartheid movement, and the nature of education reforms in a post-apartheid South Africa. The research analyzes the implications of these reforms for a specific group of marginalized South Africans, former student militants, that is, Black African youths who participated in the anti-apartheid struggle between 1970 to 1992. It is deeply tragic that a majority of this population do not benefit from the educational and economic policies of the new South Africa, and remain poor and unemployed. Based on interviews, surveys and focused group discussions with former student militants in the Northern Province of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, this research examines the gap between the educational vision of the anti-apartheid movement and the nature of the present reforms. My research shows that although based on principles of racial equality, the impact of the reforms can only be understood in the broader context of neoliberal economic reform. The research highlights the contradictions immanent in constructing a deracialized, egalitarian education system that can benefit the Black majority at the same time as the state prioritizes economic growth and competitiveness to succeed in a global economy. The research questions whether the goal of ‘education for liberation’ can truly be attained and the historical oppressions and inequities of the apartheid regime eradicated by education reform that is based on liberal ideals of a nonracialized equal society.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Curricula|Teaching|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Thobejane, Tsoaledi Daniel, "Education in post-apartheid South Africa: Towards liberation or equity?" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3179930.