The Faculty of Accounting and Informatics at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted a Decolonisation in Higher Education Symposium as part of their Deans Workshop Series, at the Hotel School Conference Centre, on Tuesday, 12 June 2018.
The symposium was well attended by Professor Oludayo Olugbara, Dr Rosaline Govender, DUT staff, students, and featured key speakers, Dr William Mpofu from the WITS University, Professor Sabelo Ndlovu from UNISA and DUT SRC president, Siphephelo Mthembu.
Understanding the history on decolonisation and what it means in South Africa and how the process in which a country that was previously a colonised becomes politically and educationally independent, was tackled by the various speakers.
Dr Mpofu’s talk was on: University Otherwise: Towards the Liberation of the Westernised University in Africa, a Decoloniality Perspective.
He spoke on decoloniality which is identical with decolonial thinking and doing, and questioned the histories of power emerging from Europe.
“Endogenous and indigenous knowledge has been pushed to the margins of society. Africa is today saddled with irrelevant knowledge that disempowers rather than empowers individuals and communities,” he stressed. He argued that decoloniality needed to be protected from decolonial thinkers.
Speaking more on decolonising Higher Education in South Africa was Professor Ndlovu. He spoke of the three-fold crises facing universities in hegemony, legitimacy and institutionally. “There is an invasion of universities by business models and are turning universities into capitalist enterprises. There is a rise of academic managerial class using corporate practices to govern universities. Students are approached as customers and there is an obsession with internalisation at the expense of indigenisation,” he said.
Prof Ndlovu added that the way forward would be decolonizing the very idea of the University and shifting from a University in Africa to an African University, access to free, quality and relevant education and rethinking what is thought, who is teaching, how is teaching done, and what is the value and relevance of what is taught.
SRC president, Siphephelo Mthembu discussed the students’ perspectives on decolonization in Higher Education.
“As students we know very well the challenges we face and as a result we resort to mass demonstrations. As a female student you don’t form part of society if you don’t have a weave,” he said. Going forward, he urged academics to introduce a decolonised curriculum for universities.
The seminar ended with further discussions on how decolonization can enable the transformation of Higher Education in South Africa.
Pictured: Dr William Mpofu