n South African Journal of Higher Education - If walls could speak : reflections from visiting a South African higher education classroom : editorial : SAJHE Heltasa Conference

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



During the last couple of years South African higher education institutions went through major transformation - in particular with regard to enrolling increasingly more nonwhite students. Not only do the majority of these students come from an educational impoverished background but also from different cultural and language backgrounds. Given the history of South Africa's higher education system up till now curricula and textbooks and lecturing have been done predominantly by white lecturers, representing western worldviews and ways of understanding and learning. Although a number of policies and initiatives were implemented since 1994 to transform the entire higher education system, undesired differences still exist between the throughput rates of whites and black students.

Given the fact that the majority of lecturing staff in South Africa is still white, I was interested to establish what happens, almost fourteen years after a new government was put in placed within classrooms with diverse student population groups. By using three sets of data namely student evaluation, focus group discussions with lecturing staff and classroom observations I explain how a collective consciousness and ethics for learning have been established and has contributed to changes in an institution's teaching and learning. I argue that the value of this investigation lies within the lessons learned to foster students' and staff's academic development and to design curricula that address the particular needs of the changing South African higher education population.
The focus of my article as an editorial to this special edition of the South African Journal for Higher education is relevant to the debate on how learning and teaching should be transformed in order to be responsive and relevant to the diverse South African higher education student population.

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