n South African Journal of Higher Education - The use of educational biographies to inform teaching and learning in an African university

Special Edition 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article begins with the argument that an ideal `African university' would be characterized by the universal value of social justice. `Social justice' is presented as having two complementary and interrelated elements: redistribution of resources and recognition of difference. Crucial aspects of social justice in societies embedded in a past of conflict and inequity are reconciliation, sharing of selfconsciousness and the democratization of knowledge systems. The article describes the first phase of a team led research project designed to explore the educational identities of lecturers, and how these impact on teaching and learning, at a historically white university in South Africa. The research design involves the narrating of educational biographies by 64 lecturers and academic support members. The positive impact of the research process on the research team is described. The themes and issues arising out of the research, which could emerge in a dialogue towards transformation of teaching and learning, are discussed with examples. The article concludes by stressing the need to guard against stereotyping individuals according to categories such as race or gender. It advocates the value of reflection as well as disclosure, within the dialogue towards transformation. It stresses that in order for social justice to flourish, this dialogue must be accompanied by distribution of power and resources.

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