Wednesday 25 May 2016

Teaching and learning for social justice: How can art play a role in decolonising institutional spaces?

This is an adapted version of the opening speech by Kim Berman at the Art of Human Rights Print Portfolio, featuring works by South African artists and poets,  hosted at the UJ Art Gallery from 11 May to 8 June 2016.

Questions educators are asking across the country are how does the student movements of 2015 affect the insides of our classrooms in the University. The 2015 student protests demonstrated a level of political maturity in that students were able to link their struggles with that of the broader society and managed to force institutions to review policies on hiring practices and conditions of service. This movement established a base of democratic practices that promotes critical citizenship.

More recently however, we seem to be surrounded by a wave of destructive fury that shows contempt for any rules, institutions and constitutions. Adam Habib, in an opinion piece in the Sunday Times, talks of  “multiple manifestations of rage” and recognises that our public discourse and electoral campaign rhetoric “are replete with militaristic and violent imagery”. He asks the question: “How do we return to a path to address the economic and social inclusion that is necessary to heal the divides of our society?” And further states that: “There is too little recognition of the fact that social justice will result from a process through the progressive realization of our rights” (Habib 05/16)

In the wake the burnings of 20 schools in Vuwani and the many acts of destruction on University campuses, our challenge as educators is to reframe and re-imagine democratic agency that can void the “rhetoric that invokes militaristic and violent imagery”. How do we learn and teach the strategic lesson that political progress requires learning how to engage power “with a view to a socially inclusive future”? (Habib 05/16)

Educators are faced with a number of challenges to consider in engaging not only the project of decolonisation in the classroom, but promoting active citizenship.

Some of the challenges include:

·      How to we re-invent and dissolve power relationships in the classroom?
·      How do we create safe spaces in the classroom so everyone feels a sense of belonging
·      How do we disentangle from obsolete pedagogies (top down), and look at teaching and learning as co-creation

The exhibition by Art for Humanity (AFH) currently on show at the UJ Art Gallery can be instructive in this regard. Arts and arts activism have valuable lessons to share with the project of decolonisation. The arts enable crossing boundaries, discovering commonalities, porus relationships, curiosity, aesthetics, quality of presence, consciousness of connection and in particular, the development of the capacity for a ‘moral imagination’ (Lederach 2005).  The conscious and introspective process of the scholarship associated with social justice (SoTL) correlates with the role of the creative arts, which primarily concerns critical reflection of, and engagement with society. These are also the capacities that are required for a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to education for citizenship.

How does the current exhibition up at the UJ Gallery: The Art for Human Rights print portfolio make an important contribution to promoting awareness of human rights in our communities? In the introduction to this portfolio of works, Jan Jordaan, convener of AFH quotes Justice Edwin Cameron statement at a press conference in 2013 that said: The constitution is still our best practical hope.

One could read this to mean that in the face of the social economic problems of poverty, deprivation, racism, xenophobia, crime, gender violence, health services, education, justice, corrupt leadership, political violence all of which are debilitating obstacles to the future wellbeing of South Africans, the constitution is our best practical hope for the citizens of South Africa to embrace the values, spirit and meaning of the South African Bill of Rights. One only has to look at the events of the day; whether it is the constitutional court upholding the judgments against our president as criminal or unconstitutional; or the students’ movement for more equal access to education that started with throwing excrement at the Rhodes statue in Cape Town, leading to its eventual removal last year.

We can also consider how the arts are playing a significant role in the recent actions at UCT. After the fall of the Rhodes statue, the Shackville protests resulted in the burning of artworks from the hostel, and now, more recently, the removal of 75 artworks from the UCT collection in the buildings. There is no question that the arts are a powerful medium of change and influence and one remembers the kind of debate and level of protests that Brett Murrays Spear initiated.

Ahmed Bawa, the VC and Principal of DUT, at the opening of the exhibition in Durban, and in the catalogue, talks about the kinds of tension at the heart of our struggle which can be either destructive or constructive. He says that tensions are defined by the quantity and quality of energy they contain.

“The key question that we face is to understand how we might use our constitutional democratic framework to mobilise the energy of the tension to make decisive strides toward socio-economic justice” (Bawa 2015).

How is the act of burning art from the Shackville protests by students in the hostel a legitimate action of decolonization?  David Goldblatt’s angry response at the lack of outcry from the art community calls this act of vandalism “the antithesis of democracy”. And further, is the removal and storage of contentious artwork by the UCT administration censorship? (The UCT task team identified some of the removals as works frequently mentioned among black students as causing offence when they encounter them on campus).
It seems to me that art has very important lessons to offer the debate on de-colonisation, and it’s my belief that artists should play a role in engaging it.

According to Edward Tsumele, an arts writer in response to what he sees as UCT’s act of censorship:
Let the art prevail, colonial or not colonial. I should be allowed to be offended on my behalf, not have anyone else being offended for me” (2016).

The visual is its own language …it allows things to be said that cannot be said in words.
 Removing it shuts down difficult dialogue. As Goldblatt aptly points out:
I think a democracy is based on the idea that when you have differences you can talk about it … it’s fundamental” (2016 Art Times).

This portfolio is meant to open dialogue and give voice to difficult complex thoughts and feelings that cannot always be reduced to language. Added to it, is the voice of poets who bring additional layers of complexity and meaning.  As Bawa says, students and academics should have the opportunity to mobilise the energy of the tension in a constructive way to make decisive strides towards socio-economic justice. Engaging these works in the classroom, or around campus in dialogue with historic and time or issue specific artwork is an intervention that can go a long way in critically engaging colonial spaces. It is one act (among many others needed) that can spark much needed conversations on these critical issues and questions about decolonising our institutional spaces.

The point being made here is that the arts are a powerful catalyst for opening up dialogue on our human rights, on decolonising the universities and on engaging with a diversity of voices, which is imperative in a University context. 

Each artist and poet in this exhibition has engaged deeply with one clause linked to a specific Bill of rights which hopefully entrench themselves into our minds. As Keyan Tomaselli eloquently states in his catalogue essay: It’s easier to remember 27 images than 27 clauses.
If we truly are to live our lives through others then all others must be included, and those others who are denied bills of rights must be recognized an included in this global humanistic/Ubuntu discourse” (2015).
This portfolio and exhibition is a decisive step in this direction.

Figures: from Art of Human Rights Print Portfolio (images courtesy of Arts for Humanity.)

Fig 1: Zanele Muholi: Isililo: Access to courts (article 34)
This work refers to the epidemic of hate crimes and brutal murders of black lesbians.
Fig 2: Stephen Inggs: Colour Wheel. Citizenship (Article 20)
Two images in dialogue that use colour and language to express the nuances and shades of meaning associated with the idea of citizenship

Fig 3: Berni Searle: Crossing. Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition (Article 17).   The piece refers to the 44    people killed at Marikana in 2012, and that the right of Article 17 is the right to protest without being shot in the back.

Art of Human Rights Catalogue: 2015:
The South African Art Times
Lederach JP 2005. The moral imagination: The art and soul of building peace. New York: Oxford University Press.

Decolonizing the language in our Universities

The fifth and the last of the Decolonization panels series was on: What should happen to English and Afrikaans: Decolonization and the language use in our universities
The panel comprised of Munene Mwaniki (UFS), Terblanche Delport (UNISA), Sikhumbuzo Mngadi (UJ), Kees van der Waal (SU) and Mokgweetsi Keikabile (UJ student) and Nyasha Mboti chaired the session.
Nyasha opened the debate by asking why is it that the Afrikaans language is hated so much yet the English is dearly loved. He asked what is “decolonization” in South African languages? He spoke of how as schoolchildren we were punished for not speaking English.
Munene Mwaniki 

The panel was kick-started by Munene Mwaniki who argued that we are in a contested territory where something is wrong with our education system generally and  higher education specifically. He reminded the audience that section 29 of the SA constitution stipulates that everyone has the right to receive education in a language of their choice. He further asked social justice questions: What exactly are we decolonising? Who should drive these interventions? Can we entrust the decolonization to people that we know are racists? What exactly do we want to achieve out of these debates?
He concluded by saying that the entire colonial project is based on a lie. He referred to the book titled “The history of inequality in SA” to argue that the superiority of the West is a lie!! Because Africa existed before the West. The book is about what needs to happen in order to move forward. He also said that we need transformative remedies to redress the inequalities of the past.
Kees van der Waal 

The second panellist was Kees who argued that language is very linked to the issues of social justice. He said that black education is underdeveloped because of the inequalities of the past in SA. He further alluded to a few authors and their understanding of decolonization. Ngugi Wa Thiongo in decolonizing the mind explains decolonization as claiming self-ownership, seeing ourselves clearly in relation to others. However Vinita Vaish argues that English is a tool of decolonisation which gives the poor access to the global economy. Edouard Glissant says decolonisation should be balanced by relation. He further cited Bourdieu on language, highlighting that language has power, status (others regarded it as higher and others as lower), standard and hegemony. (For more of Kees' ideas about the work of Glissant, see the blog posting of 28 May 2015). 

He argued that in practice people are using multiple languages and these languages influence one another. At Stellenbosch University, the Xhosa language is being developed as an academic language, but where to from there? He also stressed that African languages at school level need to be strengthened. He indicated that institutions will need financial support from the government in order to promote disadvantaged languages.
Terblanche Delport

Terblanche continued from where Kees left off and asked a question “Who burnt UJ? Was the burning reactionary or revolutionary?” He said colonialism is about taking the land and constructing something that did not exist before.
The history of the SA University was established in 1873 by the Cape of Good Hope act. A group of Afrikaans-speaking intellectuals in 1975 decided that Afrikaans should be formalised as a language.
He asked why white Afrikaaners bad are and the English not? White supremacy does not discriminate in terms of language. Asked why are we making a pragmatic argument saying Afrikaans should go and English should stay? What can the university do about decolonisation?
SA was established in 1909 so the country itself is a consolidation of Boer and British republics and therefore it is a colonial construct. To speak about a University in SA is talking about a colonial university. We need to address the issues that gave rise to the problems we are facing right now.
What is the role of the university in Africa?
The university needs to push the issues of social justice. He concluded by asking, what do we want to do as a University? He argued that we need to train people to be pragmatic human rights specialists who can speak English. At the moment, it is clear that the university management is standing on the side of the state and not willing to change or decolonize anything. They are protecting the one thing that has caused racism in this country. It looks like we need a new constitution.
Keikabile Mokgweetsi

Keikabile started by saying that the University of Johannesburg is Afropean in the sense that it proclaims to be an epicentre of Pan-Africanist thought yet on the contrary the Afrikaans language is being used in lectures. There are still lecturers who are arrogant and tell the students that the learning activities will be provided in Afrikaans and it is the responsibility of the students to find means of translating the texts. He argued that the Afrikaans speaking students are advantaged over the students who are speaking SA languages other than English and Afrikaans.  
He cited Louis Gordon on Fanon saying that “ … language is a construction that has a force of forming reality … “ We need to change certain things and be careful who talks to us on decolonisation issues as it only affects those who have been directly affected by decolonization".
He asked how on earth Terblanche can give a talk on Robert Sobukwe (referring to a talk he did last year at UJ). Robert Sobukwe himself did not allow any settlers to join the Pan Africanist Congress, so where does Terblanche get the legitimacy to talk to black students about Sobukwe.
He further argued about some authors who are writing on Fanon and distorting the original text. He further accused Munene of talking about constitutional democracy and decolonization at the same time. He claimed that that is a contradiction as decolonization is not about peacemaking but a violent process whereby something must die in order for something new to be born. The constitution as mentioned by Munene is not helpful in the sense that the system needs to be challenged as it continues to perpetuate the injustices in our country.
Keikabile concluded by reading a poem he wrote in Tswana: Ke nna mang? Who am I? The poem is about how African have lost their dignity and humanity to colonization.
Sikhumbuzo Mngadi
Skhumbuzo maintained that English occupies a very prominent position in our times. He questioned why other languages are left out of the academy yet they widely were spoken. Ngugi in decolonizing the mind talks about the issues of language.
He cited an English scholar, Collin McKay, who noted that English was a socially despised language. But it occupies a very prominent position in our times. Both English and Afrikaans came from a history of being the language of slavery. How then did they become dominant in our context if they originate from such humble origins?
Someone wrote that we need to invent slavery in Africa in order to gain that kind of power that the West gained through slavery. He asked, how do we begin to address the history of violence, the prominence of English and Afrikaans, which were (and still are) the languages of oppression? We had to learn these languages in order to address the authority. The poem titled “The South African dialogue” addresses the issues of the servant communicating with his boss. How do we then transform these languages of slavery to be the languages of teaching and learning?
The English language has always been understood to be a universal language, but how universal it is? To what extent are our universities responsive to the communities that they serve? He argued that the languages are part of our symbolic cultures and our languages also carry our critical tools with which we produce our knowledge.
The issue of decolonisation is nothing new. The 1990’s texts were about decolonisation, or else there would be no texts around the topic. Where do we draw the line between what is African and what is not? We speak of the mobility of languages, which are able to carry the dynamics of change. Languages are not self-enclosed, they carry the burden of violence.
Ngugi generated a number of studies on how Africa came about through the process of colonisation. Similarly, Eskia Mphahlele wrote about how one could read the idea of human vitality. We have cross-pollination between languages, but how do we account for the fact that some languages are regarded as superior to the others? African languages have continued to be inferior despite the fact that they are spoken widely. Afrikaans and English have become African languages, but in what sense?This is a question that is hardly asked. African languages have not made any effort to influence Africa at all.
Have we had any cross-translation, where those who speak English have to translate it to an African language? Are we prepared to share the wealth of the languages around us? Or do we still want to call English and Afrikaans African languages when it is convenient to do so? In conclusion, he referred to a Nigerian writer who responded to Ngugi in his book “Season of migration to the South”. He emphasised that this is a good read in addressing the issues of decolonization.
Instead of having a question and answer session, the speakers joined the groups and moved from one group to the other.

Feel free to add your comments from the various groups to the blog. 

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Decolonizing the Curriculum: Workshop at the University of Johannesburg

Cheryl Hendrick's opening address
A successful workshop was held at the University of Johannesburg on 24 May 2016, on the subject of decolonizing the curriculum. There were over 60 attendees from eight of the nine faculties as well as members from the Academic Development Services and Academic Planning. A more detailed report is at the end of this posting and two slide presentations are posted below. The debate was lively and there was clearly a passion for the topic amongst many there, as well as a sense of lack of clarity from some quarters, about what we are doing, or about
Vanessa Merckel spoke about the pedagogical implications
how we understand colonization in the first place.  Cheryl Hendricks, chair of the decolonising the curriculum task team, gave a very useful lead-in presentation. Each faculty present shared what they are doing, and it is clear that there have been many discussions, some formal and some informal, about how to decolonize the curriculum. There were also examples of good practice, for example the need to engage in discussion with students in smaller groups, to give a greater variety of voices to emerge. Points made repeatedly were that this is not just about changing content, but about power relations as well. Many felt strongly that the issue of global competitiveness and chasing global rankings inhibits the decolonization process. Many of the colleagues also made the point that to decolonise the curriculum requires engagement with other role-players, especially the international professional  associations that have a strong influence on some of the more professionally-oriented programs, but in addition, with community members or workers.

An issue that was returned to many times in the morning, is that 'local' and 'contextual' applies just as much to engineering and accountancy as it does to the humanities, and some wonderful examples were given for example of how even something like a turnstile is typically designed with a certain prototype (white, male) in mind. The issue of race and color came up, with some saying that we should be prepared to talk hard and robustly with others, and others saying that referring to race makes it personal. We should be able to participate in robust debate and hear comments about the evils of the past and present institutioal practices, without taking them personally. Likewise there was a discussion about the fact that this is not an easy conversation, and one should be prepared for tension and contestation. The group were asked whether they think some kind of guiding document would be useful, and it was interesting that many participants indicated that this would be useful, although what exactly the shape such a document would take, is not clear, since there is a permanent tension between 'decolonizing' and unwittingly returning to colonising behaviour. In an interesting  presentation by Bongani Mashaba from academic development, he shared his own previous experiences as a student from Mpumalanga. He was affirming a point made by several students in previous forums at the university, that  much of the current unease from students is about a lack of recognition of who they are and what they experience. Further meetings at the University will be to generate a Charter, and views of this workshop were recorded to inform future processes.

Here is a more detailed report on the workshop, by Razia Mayet:

Tuesday 24th May 2016

SESSION 1 : Setting the Scene
Cheryl Hendricks and Brenda Leibowitz opened the proceedings. They set the scene with the following reminders.
1.     That there was no set definition of decolonization. That the definitions were wide and varied and encompassed everything from social justice, black thought, indigenous knowledge, Africanisation, social justice and many others.
2.     That the terrain is deeply contested and deeply political; and that even the process has been likened by some colleagues to a type of colonization.
3.     That we must all ask ourselves whether we want to be here. It should be a collective move and is preferably not one where people are doing it out of compliance.
       1. That there are no templates on how to do it.
 2. That there was a nationwide drive to start the conversation but there was also contestation     
       about who owns these conversations.
 3. What is becoming clear is that decolonization intrudes into the terrain between the
       individual academic and what is being taught. How can we as lecturers influence that private             space?
  4. At the outset we know that  there is no straight road and it is not always an easy discussion.     The   debate is vibrant in all South African universities and faculties.
Cheryl gave an overview of the work of the Ad Hoc senate task teams on the decolonization of knowledge. (Refer to power point presentation for details)
4 task teams were formed. They are tasked with the following:
Diversity ; institutional culture and tradition
Decolonization of knowledge
Protest and academic freedom
Promotion of staff and student access
The task teams have hosted a series of panel discussions that address the meaning of, and methodology for, decolonizing knowledge, teaching and learning at UJ.   5 panel discussions were planned:
What do we mean by decolonization of knowledge?
 Is knowledge universal?
Best practices for the decolonisation of knowledge
The relationship between and social justice and decolonization
 The thorny issue of language usage at universities.
The intention was to have as wide a debate as possible on these issues at the university (at all the campuses). But, these have primarily been attended by students and so they remain the ones who are engaged on the topic, yet it is academics that have to be at the forefront of changing their curricula. This disjuncture between student demands and  the extent of the staff response does not bode well for the university. Academic staff are urged to attend and participate.
In the ensuing discussion by the attendees, the following points were raised.
·       Is the decolonization debate only for academics? What about non academics and support staff?
·       Have the panel discussions been documented? How does one access them?
·       Thinking should go beyond student/ teaching/learning. How do we challenge current thinking?
·       No one owns the debate, but the former colonized have the first word and should be listened to
·       Globalization does not equal excellence. This must be interrogated. Rankings are part of the colonial experience.
·       Do we understand what we are decolonizing? As higher education institutions started moving towards transforming, they lost sight of certain important things and thus students are protesting.
·       Decolonization is a very broad concept and different people have different understandings of it.
·       At UJ, what are we decolonizing to? Is there a roadmap?
Cheryl responded by reminding the delegates that the Decolonization Task Team was in the process of developing a charter. The charter will be the initial roadmap/principle. The charter will represent the academics, workers, support staff and students. There will be planned workshops for academics on pedagogical and epistemological concerns linked to the curriculum. We would like to share experiences, understand challenges and concerns and develop a set of guiding principles and values to underpin our academic endeavour. We want to raise the issue of ‘how did we get here’, and ‘ what do we need’ and ‘how to get there’. All of this will happen on all four campuses.
 She responded to the other issues raised by saying:
The point is raised that we the children of the decolonised should be leading the debate. But we should be listening as well. The issues are not new. They are being raised since the 70s and 80s.
Africa is part of the global. Why do we see the debate as Africa vs the Global?
Africanization does not exclude the world.
What are we decolonizing to? Well we in South Africa have a different type of decolonization. We relate more to the Latin American thinkers who think in terms of coloniality. It encompasses all social relations, attitudes, behaviour, and as Ngugi says, the decolonizing the mind.
The FEBE rep started of by saying ‘Gravity is Gravity” and ‘Science is Science”. He said there was an urgent need for students to feel ownership of the curriculum. The inherent conflict remained as the “ local vs international”. Engineering SA is a signatory to National and International Engineering bodies. There was unstructured debate with faculty members and student representatives. There was also a need to engage with industry partners and advisory boards. An essay competition was planned on decolonization so students could engage with the topic and staff could look for patterns in what students are saying. Febe doesn’t feel the need for a universal road map, but some snippet and more open engagement was needed.
A committee has been constituted to give feedback on what the rest of the university is doing.
The questions that need to be asked are  Is Economics universal?
Is there an African way of looking at this?
 The Department of Accounting is revisiting its strategy and re-looking at their research options.
The Faculty is open and willing to learn
The faculty held a full day of engagement and are in the process of inviting guests to engage them further. It is not formal, but meetings are taking place about the way forward. Staff and students must engage on a broader level. There is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty among students.
The way forward that is envisaged is how to channel the informal meetings and marginal voices into the larger stream of the debate.
There was discussion around the issues but students were not fully aware. The Geography lecturer  offers room for research around these issues. The Deans Committee meeting in August will take it forward to the 13 departments in Science. With regard to the way forward, Prof Ballim has been invited to faculty board meeting to raise further issues for discussion.
Decolonization is regarded as a very important issue in the Faculty of Education, as a turning point in history. In 1994 universities restructured. But now in 2015 the students have expressed their concerns. The faculty has pursued discussion and participated in Teaching and Learning activities with academics from other institutions, for example Andre Keet from UFS who presented an insightful discussion on “knowledge systems as othering”. The SOTL for social justice group meeting/seminars have been held over two years. A meeting was arranged with a student group called “Black Thought”. Odora Hoppers engaged some staff in a discussion on cognitive justice. It is a global challenge. Discussion was taken to a conference in Europe. Students are engaged in discussions on Human Rights and Social Justice on excursions. Study Guides are revised and readings are more authentic. Enquiry based discussion is ongoing.
Under and post graduate students are invited to share views. Business Management is concerned about competition and how it could effect South Africa. The discussions are on Pan African vs International universities; Local Excellence vs International Excellence. Business case studies are also reflected. The aim is to show that Africa must not be the ball in the game but the player in the game. Q S Rankings are counter productive.
The main challenge is that Health Science is a very regulated sector, prescribed by both national and international regulatory bodies. Does everything require decolonization? Or is it a about questioning how we implement things and how we communicate and how we teach.?
This debate must represent a way forward. It mustn’t be a ‘flavour of the month’. It must be finding yourself in the domain and examining our mind sets, a Pan African footprint in health.
The FADA rep started by quoting from the UJ mission statement about being ‘Anchored in Africa’
He spoke of establishing democratically elected Teaching and Learning committees that are democratically elected.
A survey at FADA showed that each department is in a different place. The faculty meeting on 8 June will move the discussion forward. Decolonization and Social Justice cannot be separated. The Teaching and Learning committee is developing FYE and SSE with that in mind. Fees must fall and Decolonization are themes in the 2017 conference. There is a student led panel in FADA, so students will lead the discussion in August. Globalization has to be kept in mind. A question was asked in a forum about why internationally the top schools are all in the UK. A delegate answered that the decolonization debate was more advanced in Europe. This was a serious issue that really needs to be interrogated.
Carina van Rooyen
“Anthropology is the handmaiden of colonialism”
Carina said that she is very aware of her privileges as a white South African but was also completely committed to change. She quoted Torres’ definition of Decoloniality  and  Mbembe’s assertion that there were two sides to the decolonization coin: thecritique and the alternative. Ngugi called it a decentering and a recentering.
She quoted Ngugi that decolonization is not a project  of rejecting but redefining.
Four points of departure.
·       Curriculum is not transformational or decolonization, it is reformist or liberal if it is chasing rankings.
·       Decolonization is not an event
·       Decolonisation is about engaging epistemic disobedience
·       Curriculum is a site of contestation
The 3 key aspects were content, structure and process. Content relates to what we do, not just knowledge but values and skills. Syllabi that are designed for apartheid are still in use today. Structure requires us to question  why degrees are structured the way they are and process requires us to question what we inherited. Does it make sense for us here and now? Content and context are related. Contexts vary. There is the ADDING ON APPROACH or CONTRA PUNCTUAL analysis. Knowledge is not a fait accompli but a contested and contextual arena.
Decoloniality is not equal to Africanisation (Fanon). We need to take back our knowledges. There is ‘power to’ and VS’ power over’.
What are the epistemologies and ontologies that inform our curriculum?
Carina referred us to the theory of posthumanism  and to a book on Inter-species collaboration and ecologies. She concluded by saying “Stay with the trouble: the ongoing, the troubling, stay with it”.
Bongani Mashaba
Decolonization is not a final product. It’s not personal. It’s about recognition.S tudents want recognition. We give the impression that beyond western knowledge there is nothing. Yet before 1652 South Africa had a powerful education past and present.
How do we teach the knowledges in our context?
Do we recognize our students’ backgrounds?
How do we bridge our context with the world?
We don’t have to change the curriculum, but we can put it in our own contexts. Interrogate your practice. Does it speak to the students we have?
Vanessa Merkel
Politeness can go into falseness.
These dialogues are painful but we must go on. We have to be argumentative.
Epistemic promiscuity: There is something to be learnt from everyone. Keep looking. Keep asking. It’s messy.
Decolonization is a “becoming”. It’s a journey we have embarked on. There is no roadmap.
We problematise the knowledge of the west but at the same time we should not romanticise Africa. What about patriarchy and heteronormativity?
We have an obsession with the ‘cognitive’. What about the discursive, our bodies, our relationships, our hearts? All of these facilitate learning.
Violence and disruption can change things. Look at the nexus between LOVE and REVOLUTION
Assessment is profoundly about decolonization. How we assess is a site of the decolonization debate
Thea De Wet
She was tasked with her unit by the VC to develop a suite of short courses for students that are non-credit bearing, on line and free. Examples are:
Cyber Citizenship
Critical brief history of Southern Africa
African Socio-Political thought in the past 150 years
The Universe, Near us and Far Away; An African view
Where do I come from?
Indigenous Poetry
African Choral Music
Nyasha Mboti
The Science and Economics that we offer perpetuate colonial knowledge systems. We make it seem that there is no other way of looking at the issues. “Who is ‘Joe Omnibus’?” aka the reasonable man. Who is he based on? Is he white, male, middle aged? He gave examples from Engineering for example the design of a turnstile which is designed with a person of a particular height or shape in mind,  the same with the budgeting we teach: how does this compare with the experiences of students regarding the use of money or saving?
We work in paradigms that hide their inherent privilege and racism.
Group 1
It is important to be familiar with the students’ contexts. Students must bring their knowledges especially the previously marginalised. We have to make Africa matter. Showcase Africa as the place to learn from.
Group 2
We are here in Africa and in universities. We assume that lecturers are teachers. But they are not. They are content specialists. There is nothing wrong with the content of the curriculum. It’s our attitude that must change.
Group 3
Framework for different streams of thinking:
·       Knowledge is never free
·       Relevant examples must be included
·       Do the lecturers have experience of the contextualized knowledges of their students if they come from different backgrounds?
How do we go beyond the book when we don’t have the experience?
Should students dictate the content?
Student engagement – where must their voices be heard?
Science has limits away from popular epistemologies.
Contextual knowledge is a low level skill. What about abstract knowledges?
 Group 4.
Whatever knowledge one has is context-based. Theory informs practice informs theory.
Knowledge is not only specialized. What about anecdotal evidence?
Group 5
Contextualising in the class is a challenge as the classes are so diverse.
Our engagements are not reflected in our assessments.
Cultural sensitivity is important.
Group 6
Represent contexts.
Scientific terms vs the vernacular language is an issue.
Humanities vs Hard Science is another issue,
Group 7
We agree about cultural sensitivity.
Scientific terminology and hiding behind these principles is cosmetic.
Decolonization seems revolutionary.
 Which sensitivities and sensibilities must be molly-coddled and which must be broken down violently?
When you take students on the knowledge journey a transfer takes place. Students experience it and then make it their own.
Decoloniality is not polite, it’s uncomfortable. It’s rage. It’s emotions. It’s discomfort.

WRAP-UP  by Cheryl Hendricks
Whoever is in the room are the right people to be here”
We are undertaking this to learn and share and develop
We hope that these discussions will be a triggerpoint for you to move ahead.
ENGAGE                  ACT                    TRANSFORM

Razia Mayet