Decoloniality and rural students’ transitions to and trajectories through higher education in South Africa: overview and panel discussion: A unique opportunity to hear from both South African and UK colleagues together.

Monday 10 December 2018, 5.15 PM – 6.15 PM

Room 1.20/21, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA 

This event is part of the School of Education’s ‘Bristol Conversations in Education’ seminar series.

Speakers: Kibbie Naidoo, University of Johannesburg, Emmanuel Mgqwashu, Rhodes University, Patricia Muhuro, University of Fort Hare, Thea de Wet, University of Johannesburg, Sue Timmis, Sheila Trahar and Lisa Lucas, University of Bristol

This seminar and panel discussion will provide an overview and progress to date on ESRC/NRF/Newton funded project – Southern African Rurality in Higher Education (SARiHE), which focuses on rural students from three very different universities in South Africa and employs qualitative and participatory methods. Rural students have had limited attention to date, despite being amongst the most historically marginalised groups in South Africa (Mgqwashu, 2016). We show how language, knowledge practices, histories and identities derived from rural cultural worlds that students bring into the world of higher education are often ignored or dismissed and the challenges of negotiating the unfamiliar world of higher education.

The project is framed within current debates on decoloniality and decolonisation of the curriculum within higher education in South Africa. The acknowledgement of the continuation of colonial thinking and practices is particularly important in South Africa, where the legacy of the colonial past is still very much in evidence. This echoes wider calls for knowledge democratisation, for example, De Sousa Santos (2016) calls for a recognition of an ecology of knowledges where all knowledges are to some extent incomplete. Embracing other knowledges thus requires ‘intercultural translation’ – searching for common concerns, revealing underlying cultural assumptions and developing hybrid forms of understanding (de Sousa Santos, 2016). We will explore these competing knowledges and inequalities in relation to the project findings and also within the productive but challenging international collaborative partnership.

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