From the Desk of the Conference Chair
Dr JM Makua
Senior Director: Teaching and Learning Development Centre
The dramatic changes taking place in the higher education space have significant implications in what universities teach and how they teach. Local and global pressures placed on higher education, coupled with the recognition that the status quo is unsustainable, are fuelling innovation initiatives at a rapid pace across the higher education ecosystem. The landscape for higher education is no longer the same.
The implementation of the Higher Education Act resulted in vast changes to the higher education system. In many ways this legislation resulted in the creation of a social contract between higher education and society and created pathways for an evolving relationship between the state and higher education. The Act provided legal space for the creation of a ‘single and coordinated higher education system.” Despite these and many other changes, significant systemic challenges still persist. These challenges include intractable inequalities that sadly reflect apartheid era mind-sets and lingering consequences. Achieving social justice through education remains a receding mirage in many different ways.
Nancy Fraser (2008, 2009) views social justice as arrangements which enable everyone to participate in social life on an equal footing. Her views on social justice challenge societal inequalities. She views social justice as participatory parity. In her view, participatory parity entails participation as equals. She understands parity in a three-dimensional perspective, namely ‘redistribution, recognition and representation.’ Given the low throughput rates, high dropout rates, high graduate unemployment, and the length of time it takes graduates to complete higher education qualifications it has become necessary for the sector to begin to ask relevant and hard questions about the purposes of higher education. Some of these questions are:
What are we educating towards?
What are the purposes of higher education? Are we hitting or missing the transfrormation and equity targets?
Is higher education reproducing or eradicating inequality?
Are we responding to national and global imperatives as we should?
Join us in Colloquium 2019 as we reflect on these and many other questions facing higher education in South Africa and the world.