He defined transformation as “an ongoing process of rethinking, not merely this sporadic, monumental change”. Meaker also mentioned the issues that the work stream had identified within the curriculum and had formed four driving factors or objectives to address:
Responsiveness to a social context: The university should prepare students and graduates for the outside world. It should form the content and structure of the curriculum by being aware of the social context and putting it into students’ learning and studying.
Epistemological diversity: There should be exposure to the knowledge of the diverse traditions of students and a move toward a global South Africanised concept of learning.
Pedagogy and renewal of classroom practices: This highlights how we learn and how material is conveyed to diverse students.
Institutional culture of openness and critical reflection: This questions what kind of university UP will be including standards, cultures and symbolism of the university.
Sooliman’s paper, titled “Reflections form the decolonisation summer school in Granada”, mentioned how the call for curriculum transformation is a call for decentering the Eurocentric perspective that has prioritised the knowledge of white, Christian males from five countries: Germany, Britain, Italy, France and the US. “In order to reactivate their humanity, students are demanding local relevance over international recognition,” she said.
Manamela sought to relate, through his presentation, the continued marginalisation of students with disabilities. He highlighted the short-sighted approach to the recognition of the rights of students with disabilities, which emphasises the law and legal process for protecting and attaining these rights, but very often does not go further than this. He mentioned that the curriculum structure can burden students with disabilities. “I have faced hurdles and hurdles of admin,” he said about acquiring textbooks in braille.
Lastly, Svicevic presented his paper titled “Implementable policy considerations in the advancement of official indigenous African languages as mediums of instruction at institutions of higher education”. He emphasised the non-progressive nature of current university language policies as most current language policies differ from national framework on the advancement of indigenous African languages and how, currently, university language policies have no clear implementation plan.
“Wits is the only university with a four-phased plan. They have time periods, which many universities lack,” he said. The University of the Witwatersrand’s indigenous African language implementation plan’s phase 1 was completed in 2010 and phase 2 began in 2011.
The conference discussions come in light of UP’s decision on 22 June to revise the university’s language policy in which English is the only language if tuition and assessment. Afrikaans as a language of tuition will be gradually phased out.
Dr Madiba welcoming those in attendance. Photo: Kay O’Brien