n Journal of Educational Studies - Epistemic hazards : the festering wounds of educationally unfulfilled lives

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1680-7456



This paper takes on a polemic stance towards the urgency of re-calibrating the English Language curriculum in South Africa. It identifies a systemic avoidance by curriculum designers to consult published research in the social sciences and in education which does not support the curriculum changes that have been made from the National Curriculum Statements in 1996, the Revised National Curriculum Statements in 2007 and the current Curriculum and Assessment Policy in 2012. The article analyses and critiques the English Language curriculum specifications across the years and identifies critical gaps that have generated both epistemic hazards and general inequalities. Inequality is a word that makes populist and conservative politicians feel uncomfortable because addressing and arresting inequality invokes the spectre of equality, which has redistributive connotations offensive to free market ideologies. Equality implies reworking the epistemic deficiencies of the curriculum, with an urgent call to create enduring opportunities for successful matriculants. This article connects learner under-achievement to curriculum content deficits and how such inadequate content is unsatisfactorily taught and assessed. Both content and pedagogical approaches need re-calibration in order to break the walls of underachievement, especially in multiply deprived rural and township schools.

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