Drivers and inhibitors of diversity and social justice in the South African higher education sector: Reflections on a decolonised curriculum


This article analyses factors that drive or inhibit students’ epistemic access to higher education in South Africa. The analysis is in response to a need for institutional diversity and programme differentiation in our higher education institutions. The article intends to contribute to the ongoing debates on decolonisation and the social justice agenda in South African higher education. I argue that the first point of departure should be a focus on curriculum change. To this end I raise three arguments: firstly, the agenda on the size and shape of the system is not based on the pursuit for social justice and decolonisation, but on flippant political pursuits and markets. Secondly, the principles that govern the selection, organisation and sequencing of curriculum are not based on post-structuralism, but rather on structuralism. Thirdly, historically disadvantaged students do not have epistemic access and success in higher education.

Author Biography

M.J. Themane, University of Limpopo

Professor Mahlapahlapana Themane is a full professor of education at the University of Limpopo, South Africa. Themane’s expertise includes inclusive education, curriculum studies, schools as enabling environments, reading and health and educational achievements. He has authored and co-authored book chapters, articles, commissioned reports. He is involved in a number of research projects on inclusive education and health education and schools as enabling environments, and multiple literacies. He has worked with researchers, educators, and providers locally and abroad. Themane serves on numerous Higher Education -related expert of curriculum panels and committees.



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How to Cite
Themane, M.J. 2021. “Drivers and Inhibitors of Diversity and Social Justice in the South African Higher Education Sector: Reflections on a Decolonised Curriculum”. South African Journal of Higher Education 35 (1), 70-81.
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