n South African Journal of Higher Education - Social justice in South African Universities : a bridge too far?

Volume 25, Issue 8
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article analyses the National Plan of Higher Education (NPHE) and argues that the NPHE mainly uses formal concepts of social justice in bringing redress and equity to the higher education. It further argues that the plan could meaningfully and better address issues of equity and redress by employing substantive forms of justice. Firstly, the article will focus on the constitutive meaning of social justice and the two notions of social justice known as the normative and the substantive notions. In doing this, preference will be accorded to the substantive understanding of justice that prioritises human capability development over and above the formalistic approach of social justice that mainly considers access as a priority. Secondly, the article will discuss Section 3 of the NPHE in relation to the ideals of social justice that it promotes and further reveals its formalistic limitations. The article further discusses the weakness of the institutions of higher learning in promoting substantive social justice, particularly in the case of South Africa, as a consequence of the conceptions of justice in use and concludes by examining how the implementation of (NPHE) can assist institutions of higher learning in promoting social justice.

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