n South African Journal of Higher Education - Higher education and democracy : analysing communicative action in the creation of sustainable learning environments : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South Africa

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Couched in the theory of communicative action as the theoretical framework, this article documents how the engagement of a South African university's research team with the local school community has facilitated the conversations and activities among its teachers, learners and parents. This in turn has led towards the enhancement of learner performance in the study of mathematics in a Grade 9 class. The theory of communicative action is understood as the democratic action based on the discursive rationality and validity of the arguments of individuals and/or groups of collectives. Because these communicative action decisions are not imposed, learners, teachers and parents have taken ownership of their own learning and this has resulted in improved performance. At the same time, both researchers and participants have understood their democratic role and power in ensuring the success of this academic project. The findings indicate that a university, given its immense resources, including intellectual capital, can play a significant role in the creation of networked power, emancipatory knowledge, empowered subjectivities and spaces of solidarity which are the for good academic performance and sustainability of any democracy.

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