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Social Justice and Decolonization in South African Education

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The purpose of this paper is to sum up ideas that contribute to unjust education in South Africa. And ways or ideas that can be taken to bring just education in South African schools. Just education, is making sure that every learner in school have an opportunity to explore their ideas, to find themselves and to develop their own skills and abilities based on their values and their communities’ values (Joseph, 2016). Justice also, needs to be promoted in South African education where every leaner is treated well despite of who they are. Justice is a free and just society where human rights are well kept up and protected despite of one’s gender, race, background, sexual-nature, class, physical or mental ability and age (Sandeep, 2017)


South African education is not just, to promote just education equality and equity need to be taken into consideration. But SA education does not promote equity it promotes equality which sometimes benefit all of the schools but in the other hand rural areas are less lightly to benefit from that. For instead, they provide the same number of goods to every school, and this is not fair for learners in rural areas because they need more of those goods than model C schools learners. Also, in rural areas learners are provided with unqualified teachers and most of their classrooms are overcrowded due to lack of classrooms and this will result in poor performance of leaners in rural areas. And in Model C schools’ learners are not overcrowded and they are provided with well qualified teachers.


John Dewey is an educational theorist who was born in Burlington, Vermont on 20 October 1859 and he died in 1952 ( Jordan, n.d). He believed in progressive education “Pragmatism” meaning that learners, learn through working with their hands. Also, he believed that learners are able to see things that are happening around them, so they need to experience that, meaning they need to interact with their environment in order to learn and adapt ( Jordan, n.d). Also, he saw a classroom as place where everyone is given equal opportunity to explore their own ideas (Jordan, n.d). In most South African schools’ learners are not given equal opportunity to explore their knowledge. Also, they are not given an opportunity to be who they are. Dewey sees education as a way to prepare you for the immediate future, since this will encourage more people to want to learn (Shawal).

SA education system doesn’t supply learning and teaching materials to all of schools, so that learners are prepared for the immediate future all they can do is to supply to schools that don’t need those materials. Dewey wants the school curriculum to be built upon the child’s own activities not around school subjects like science, literature etc (Shawal). South African curriculum is not built upon the child’s own activity it revolves around science, literature etc, if it was built like that, they would have been a huge achievement in most of South African schools. He saw a teacher as facilitator not an instructor, he wants teachers to look what their students are interested on and the direction they naturally take in order to help them develop problem-solving skills (Jordan, n.d). Dewey does not want the teacher to just talk alone in the classroom he wants the teacher to encourage group work to allow learners to interact with one another so that they can be able to share their viewpoints with their classmates (Jordan, n.d). Most of South African schools are trying to apply that.


If the colonial curriculum is deconstructed and reconstructed to benefit South African leaners, it would be easy for teachers to teach learners about things that they know and can relate to. If the curriculum is decolonized to promote equity and social justice by giving credit to people who took part to make everything happen, like people who came up with idea of making electricity. And it is passed on to learners the way it is, it would bring equity and social justice to those people. Also, if the curriculum is built by Africans which will promote the ethnics confidence and pride of African youth and teach the culture of rational use of material and social resources for equity and social justice ('Oupa', 2018). If the curriculum is decolonised so that indigenous language is being used in schools then equity and social justice will be brought to South Africans. I stand for decolonisation.

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The should be social justice in South African education because that could bring equality and equity in schools. That will help to make school a place where every student is treated fairly despite of who they are and they also, feel safe and secured when they are at school. Where no school have better resources and well-qualified teachers than the other school. This will avoid marginalisation of others and will provide equal education to all . Also, if every student in school are given equal opportunity in all of the activities in school, they would be able to find what they are interested on.

Also, if they are given the opportunity to explore their viewpoints in class, they would never feel like they don’t belong to that class. Also, the are more things that we can achieve with social justice, like if the content that is being taught is connected to the life of the student “who they are” it would make the student eager to learn. Also, if the educators can try to include information from multiple, non-dominant perspective, de-centering students’ analytical frame and opening their mind to broader range of experiences, analysing the of power and oppression and inquiring into what alternatives exist with respect to the current, dominant view of reality of this issue (Hackman, 2005). This will make students more observant of the issue. Educators must try to critically assess their own work and their individual qualities that might have impact on their classroom, this will help to avoid favouritism and marginalisation in the classroom.


To promote social justice and inclusion in my teaching profession or as a teacher I will build a supportive relationship towards my students, since they might all come from culturally diverse background, might be immigrant, students with specific needs and those from lower socio-economic background. Also, I will try to communicate with them so that I could know them better. I will try to gain more knowledge about variety of cultures and social context so that I could be able to work with parents of my students. And, know more about their background so that I will be able to know things that might influence them not to perform well in their studies.

I will try to take all the responsibility and work with school and other agents to eliminate structural and cultural barriers that makes learners not to be able to learn and take part in some activities. Also, to make sure that learners don’t fall under marginalisation and exclusion during their studies. I will give all of my learners, equal opportunity to explore their viewpoints. Also, in school I will try to impose that learners should be treated equally despite their background, and they must all be given equal opportunity to partake in every activity they want to partake in.

I will try to challenge and bring transformation in things that are not done well in school that might affect the development or learning of the learner, even if that might put my job on risk. I will try to have an understanding that learners are different from one another like they have different learning skill so, I will try to use all of those skills to accommodate them all. I will show believe towards my learners that they can do better than they believe they could do, and I will build confidence in them. If all of those things mentioned above is promote, it will bring just education in South Africa

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Social Justice and Decolonization in South African Education. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Social Justice and Decolonization in South African Education.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
Social Justice and Decolonization in South African Education. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
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