n Journal of Educational Studies - The role of the university in rural development : the case of teacher development in the Eastern Cape




We come to this paper as researchers, as classroom teachers, as community and political activists, and as University based teacher trainers. In this paper we problemetise the relationship between the current boundaries and rituals of the University and the challenges borne by the working class and rural poor. We begin the paper by briefly discussing the core notions of university, rurality and sustainable development to provide a larger analytic frame for this paper. We then use the specific experience of teacher development to explore, both theoretically and empirically, the incongruence between normalised University practice and the requirements of poor and rural communities. Poor and rural communities in South Africa are bedevilled by a slate of historical and contextual realities, in which the characteristics of the rurality constructed by apartheid's political and social neglect are pre-eminent. These disabling realities are accentuated, in our view, by the fact that with the exception of a few university based individuals and groups, the rituals of the university as a system have not been rooted in an understanding or engagement with the materially and epistemologically disenfranchised sections of the population. Our argument implies that it is necessary to rethink the patterns (content, pedagogy, structure) of university engagement with its communities against the context and requirements of the urban and rural poor.


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