20 Years of higher education curriculum policy in South Africa

Lis Lange


This article revisits teaching and learning policy in South African higher education from the 1990s to the present, against the grain of the student revolt that started in 2015, in order to focus on curriculum. The paper distinguishes two moments within this period, one developed around the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) that concentrated on the structure and purpose of qualifications; the other starting around 2003 that focused on the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching and learning without regard for the curriculum. It argues that the overall policy choices made by the democratic government, together with the preoccupation and the reaction of academics to some of the underpinnings of the NQF, did not create the space for an investigation of knowledge and pedagogy in the curriculum that had sufficient range to talk about the transformation of the curriculum beyond the concern about responsiveness to national needs in relation to economic and developmental goals. If South African universities want to address the unrealised aspects of institutional transformation that students have been raising it is necessary to explore more carefully the relationship between curriculum, knowledge and identity.


curriculum policy

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Copyright (c) 2017 Lis Lange

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Journal of Education