CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS article
Sec. Teacher Education
Volume 8 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2023.1132167
Curriculum transformations in South Africa: some discomforting truths on interminable poverty and inequalities in schools and society
- Department of Education and Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
In this study, we argue that the different curriculum reforms South Africa embarked on have not really helped break the existing socio-economic inequalities. Precisely, the various reforms (e.g., C2005, NCS, and CAPS) initiated by the South African government have been proved to be a flop and uninspiring considering that schools have remained spaces where inequalities, violence, vandalism, harassment, stratification, and various crimes continue to exist. Outside the schooling spaces, unemployment, poverty, xenophobia, robbery, GBVs, and different forms of crime have characterized South African society. Many educational researchers have also argued that these issues could symbolize a broken education system that is guided by shoddy policies. Accordingly, we sought to establish key issues that confront South African educational system to explain how these reproduce the apartheid-era-like inequalities. In the main, we established that neoliberal-minimalist policies have significantly influenced socio-economic inequalities in South Africa. We also established that educational researchers have failed to identify neoliberalism as the root cause of South Africa's inequalities. To achieve our goals, we utilized document analysis to explain and understand how various policies, practices, and powerful individuals have influenced these injustices. Theoretically, these debates have been guided by Paul Freire's “Critical Pedagogy” and Bourdieu's “Social-cultural Capital” mainly for their ability to illuminate power relations, exclusions, and inequalities through Symbolic Violence and depravations.
Introduction and context of the study
Since the 1994 democratic elections, South Africa had undertaken several curriculum reforms that were intended to democratize education (Vally, 2007), and eliminate all past inequalities associated with the apartheid regime (Hoadley, 2008, 2017; Du Plooy and Zilindile, 2014). Reductively, these reforms were primarily meant to heal the wounds that were created by the apartheid government policies such as those on the Bantu education, settlement, and socio-economic sorting, based on racial and ethnic differentiation. This then meant that the expectations of the public from these policy reforms were very high as everybody, at least for the first time, had imagined living a decent life that would sit in opposition to the dehumanizing conditions of the past regime. Relative to education, the most comprehensive curriculum reforms included the Curriculum 2005 (C2005) which was initiated around 1998 and was underpinned by the Outcomes-Based Educational (OBE) philosophies. The OBE later underpinned the subsequent reforms such as the New Curriculum Statement (NCS or RNC) and the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
While the outcomes of these reforms were anticipated to be positive, several studies have established that their effects had proved to be both desirable and undesirable. Like Hoadley and Jansen (2009) argue, such a mixture of fair and foul tales was expected given the diversity of schooling contexts and the volatile socio-economic and political conditions of South Africa. Equally, Maphosa and Shumba (2010) also observed that South Africans have continued to suffer from the pangs of systematic exclusion and inequalities, all of which have climaxed into xenophobia, robbery, violence, indiscipline, and other crimes in society. While the previous studies afforded us a commendable body of knowledge, they, however, had assumed descriptive approaches, hence curricula reforms were merely scrutinized on the surface for factors that have contributed to their success and failures rather than offering critical insights. Accordingly, this study endeavored to examine implementational challenges that have confronted curriculum reforms in South Africa. We also sought to explain and understand the influence of socio-economic conditions on curriculum and cognitive injustices. We understand that socio-economic conditions in South Africa, just like in any other developing nation, have a bearing on the implementation of any curriculum. We also tried to explain how the quintile system of education affects the notions of resourcing, financing, and justice in the schools. We thus assumed that such policies could help determine the type of student population schools can admit, and the level of funding the government puts into different schooling quintiles. And as argued by Bourdieu (1984), Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992), any form of differentiation may only function to annihilate cultural and social capital and currency in the schools and society. Moreover, the role of neoliberal-minimalist policies in curtailing (in)justice in schools and society has also been examined in this study. Using the various theoretical lenses such as Symbolic Violence, social contribution and capital, and humanization, we finally attempted to reconstruct and propose curriculum practices that may be socially just and responsive to the needs of students and society within South Africa's context.
Our study is informed by Critical Pedagogy by Paulo Freire, as it questions powerful socio-political structures that seek to perpetuate inequalities through schooling despite the commonly held assumptions that schools are key spaces for the promotion of fairness and justice (Freire, 1970, 2003; Darder, 1998, 2014; Giroux, 2004; Blignaut, 2009; Biesta, 2013; Nouri and Sajjadi, 2014). The main tenets of this theory include humanization, problem-solving, and critical conscientisation. Within humanization, sub-constructs, such as love, trust, faith, hope, respect, critical thinking, and dialogue, are highlighted as necessary conditions for achieving equality and emancipation. Freire like Darder (2018a) believed that without love and faith of the “other” being, it would become impossible to engage in meaningful dialogue, which is a precondition for rehumanization, critical conscientisation, and problems-posing. Freire (as cited in Darder, 2012, 2018b; Biesta, 2013; Nouri and Sajjadi, 2014) identified critical conscientisation as key to the creation of creative and critical thinkers. He argued that providing conditions that can help students become aware of their conditions and identities is necessary for locating and challenging oppressive structures and forces. This is possible if classroom spaces are equalizing, just, libertarian, and democratic. The third construct is the problem-posing approach to education which problematises the banking model of education. Freire (2003) asserts that schools should encourage dialogue among and between students and their teachers to find solutions to various problems. He argues that students will become active, sociable, autonomous, creative, and critical thinkers when dialogue is encouraged.
Contrary to the dialogue and questioning approaches (Darder, 1998; Kincheole, 2008; Nouri and Sajjadi, 2014), Freire deplores the banking model, which assumes that teachers are the sole authority of knowledge. Banking teachers can discipline, instruct, decide, rule, punish, and endlessly talk expecting students to obey and take their instruction religiously hence treating them as empty vessels and mere consumers of knowledge. He reiterates that the banking model resembles bank accounts wherein teachers deposit money (knowledge) into the learners' empty current accounts (heads/mind), only to be withdrawn at maturity (examinations) but without any interest (critical thinking) accrued. In the banking model, teaching becomes a one-way-traffic, and it does succeed in memorisation of facts and not learning. Freire further decries the banking model as reinforcing a culture of silence in students as well as creating future citizens who will be passive, uncritical, dependent, gullible, and unquestioning even when the authority is abusive. As Kincheole (2008) and Shor (1987) argued, educational policies should take into consideration students' different socio-economic and cultural capital because such diversities decide what and how these students participate and perform in their education. Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992) similarly argues that disadvantaged students may mostly get poor education, like the one Freire denounced due to their socio-economic and cultural capital which mostly mismatches the schooling culture.
The capital and class distinction theory
Bourdieu (1979, 1984) introduced the notion of “capital” to mean the sum of particular assets which are put to productive use in life. He argues that such assets may include species such as symbolic, cultural, social, and economic capital. Generally so, Bourdieu developed many theories of social stratification based on aesthetic tastes around 1979. He claimed that how one chooses to present one's social space to the world (one's aesthetic dispositions) may help depict one's status and the distance one situates himself/herself from other groups. Bourdieu assumes that children mostly internalize these dispositions when young, which later guide them into their appropriate social positions, gaining their chosen behaviors, while denouncing other unsuitable behaviors. Simply put, the aesthetic choices we make are largely determined by our social origin but not the accumulated capital and experiences. Thus, the acquisition of cultural capital mainly depends on early learning from our society. Bourdieu believed that we inherit our cultural attitudes from the definitions offered by society. He, however, cautions that socio-economic capital may depend on social-cultural origins even though we may acquire them over time. He then suggests that we should account for all social conditions from our childhood which tend to shape our tastes, future inclinations, and actions. Precisely, his argument is that socio-economic and cultural capital may influence our choices, actions, and tastes, which may as well influence students' learning experiences. If schools ignore these conditions, students from different backgrounds will have different learning experiences and achievements (See Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992).
Within this theory, symbolic capital stands out as a key strand. Bourdieu identifies prestige, honor, and attention as crucial sources of power (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). He defines Symbolic Capital as anything that is not perceived as such but is rather perceived through socially constructed schemes for classification purposes. He believes that social capital abuse by those people who hold power may lead to Symbolic Violence, particularly against those who are powerless. Symbolic Violence is, therefore, the imposition of categories of thought upon dominated social agents who then internalize the social order to be just and acceptable. The dominant groups take these positions as right even when they are imperfect. Symbolic Violence may also be more powerful than physical violence since it is embedded in the very modes of actions and minds of individuals (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Like the Banking Model (Freire, 2005), this construct helps us explain how certain curriculum policies and practices can create and sustain socio-economic inequalities. Furthermore, Bourdieu employs popular economic terminologies to explain the processes of social-cultural reproduction, and how different forms of capital are transferred among generations mainly through formal education. He contends that educational processes require certain behaviors such as mannerisms, dress code, accent, and so forth, which usually favor privileged children and teachers owing to their well-to-do backgrounds. Conversely, underprivileged children are considered difficult and ready to present challenges to the system because of their upbringing. Bourdieu regards this easiness or difficultness as the product of social labor, which equips both groups with the dispositions and thoughts that ensure their level of success within the educational spaces and fields. When educators ignore these realities, parents' class positions will be reproduced in the wider society leading to the recycling of socio-economic inequalities and poverty.
Cultural capital, on the other hand, refers to competencies, skills, and qualifications, which enable one to acquire cultural and symbolic authority, recognition, and misrecognition. For instance, working class children may view the academic success of middle-class learners as always legitimate, and/or could see this class-based inequality, as being the product of hard work and ability. Key to this process is the ability to transform symbolic capital (accent and property) into economic capital (university qualifications). Bourdieu claims that cultural capital usually sits in opposition to economic capital, and that there is usually tension between cultural capitalists and economic capitalists which can also be explained by the antagonism that exists between the arts and business fields of study. Bourdieu notes that art and culture have historically struggled for autonomy, which has nominally been achieved in some spaces. Even then, art has instead been ridiculed as “an economic world turned upside down; highlighting the rift that exists between economic capital and cultural capital” (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992; p. 81).
Social capital is the sum of the resources (actual or virtual) that accrue to individuals by virtue of possessing “a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992; p. 119). For individual(s) to gain this capital, they must constantly work for it. In some families, cultural capital is accumulated over time as they espouse cultural investment strategies and pass them over to their siblings. This gives children an opportunity to realize their potential through education, and they pass on these same values to their children. With time, these individuals will gain “cultural currency” which gives them an edge over other marginalized groups. This explains why there are variations in academic achievements among children of different social classes. Having such “cultural currency” enables people to compensate for a lack of economic capital by giving them a certain level of status in society. Bourdieu believes that “cultural capital” may play a role when individuals pursue power and status in society through politics and other leadership positions. When social-cultural capital combines with economic capital, they enormously contribute to the inequality we see in the world today (See Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992).
Bourdieu like Sen (1999) and Boliver (2011) seems to argue for social contribution to be listed as a basic capability and a human right that must be accessible by all humans. Such opportunities and means would then help individuals make meaningful social contributions toward the stock of concepts and meanings of that society, and this contradicts Symbolic Violence. For this study, Symbolic Violence and social-cultural capital will help us explain and understand whether such opportunities and means, within the curriculum reform projects, were fairly and equally provided to the schools in South Africa or not. Given the available literature (see Gamede, 2005; Hoadley, 2008, 2011; Hoadley and Jansen, 2009; Maphosa and Shumba, 2010; Du Plooy and Zilindile, 2014; Gumede and Biyase, 2016), it is doubtful if these opportunities and resources were fairly and equally distributed among the schools and learners in South Africa. Through these theoretical lenses, we further sought to explain why educational experiences in South Africa have been stratified along the lines of school location, quintiles, private vs. public schools, enrolment rates, research output, and academic programmes, which ultimately stratify the marginalized groups further.
The history of education and curriculum reforms in South Africa
Before independence, the Bantu Education Act of 1953 (Act No. 47 of 1953) was legislated to regulate the provision of education in South Africa. One of its main aims was to enforce racially oriented access to schools and their offerings (Clark and Worger, 2004; Giliomee, 2009; Moore, 2015). By then, quality schools and universities were treated as tribal shrines where only the advantaged individuals who were predominantly white would access education. Byrnes (1996) has argued that the policy of Bantu (African) education was aimed to direct black youth to the unskilled labor market through substandard schools and education which were similar to the modern-day technical and community colleges. However, Hendrik Verwoerd, the then Minister of Native Affairs, had argued that Bantu Education did not aim to isolate Black people but rather aimed to solve their “ethnic problems” by creating complementary economic and political units for different ethnic groups. Essentially, there were schools and programmes which were mainly meant to serve white people only. Furthermore, salaries for Black teachers were much lower than those of white teachers, which resulted in decreased numbers of qualified teachers in Black schools. Similarly, schools for white children were well-resourced and of the highest standards, unlike those for Black people where over 30% had no electricity and safe water. While education for Black population, Indians, and Coloreds was substantially cheaper though not free, still governmental spending on Black education was one-tenth of what was spent on white schools (Giliomee, 2009). Byrnes (1996) further reports that by 1976, the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English as medium of instruction from the last year of primary schooling. It was this Decree that led to the Soweto Uprising, during which more than 575 people were killed. And, although this act got repealed by the Education and the Training Act of 1979, segregation of Black population through tuition fees, foreign medium of instruction, and prohibitive access to private schools remained key barriers to equitable education. By 1994, Apartheid and its exclusionary social systems were outlawed through the Interim Constitution, which later gave rise to the South African Schools Act of 1996. This new act aimed to create a fully democratic and equalized system through which a democratic society would thrive. The only way to realize this ambition was to reform the school curriculum as the basis for instilling new values and aspirations of the democratic South Africa. This eventually gave rise to different curriculum reforms. Then, the understanding was that knowledge, as a fundamental element of any curriculum upon which all learning depends, needed to be equally accessed by all human beings if equal socio-economic transformation is to be achieved (Young and Muller, 2013). Since knowledge is not lifeless as it usually evolves from time to time (see Freire, 2005; Nouri and Sajjadi, 2014), then school curricula ought to be revised regularly if it is to remain relevant and serve its purposes. Weighing on this, Roberts (2014), Hoadley (2008; 2017), and Soudien (2015) have all recognized the role of knowledge in the curriculum, the need for curriculum justice, and the nature of reforms South Africa ought to have undertaken.
The first curriculum reform was the Curriculum 2005 (C2005) which gave space to both disciplinary knowledge and everyday knowledge as a symbol of equal democratic representation in politics and education. Remember that Bantu education was known for its undemocratic practices which were mainly manifested both in knowledge forms and physical abuses. During Bantu education, there was mandatory use of English and Afrikaans as modes of instructions, hence leading to Cognitive injustices (Visvanathan, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2006; de Sousa Santos, 2016; Leibowitz, 2017) and Symbolic Violence (Bourdieu, 1984; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992) as a small section of students would participate and succeed under such contexts. By including everyday knowledge, the C2005 was also mainly concerned with equalizing the previously marginalized groups more than it did with academic knowledge or Vertical Discourses (Besterin, 2000), which led to surface learning and further injustices particularly for those who go to school for social mobility. Although C2005 is named so, this National Curriculum Framework was initially introduced in schools in 1998, based on the OBE conceptions (see Cross et al., 2002). Cross et al. (2002) and Hoadley (2017), however, observe that the C2005 was also compromised by a skewed structure and design, lack of alignment between the curriculum and assessment policies, inadequate teacher training and orientation plans, and insufficient resources. Likewise, Chisholm (2000), as cited in the Review Committee Report, argued that the C2005 was marred by use of difficult language and confusing jargon, and that it was also overcrowded by eight learning areas in the GET band which left insufficient time for nurturing core skills such as reading, writing, and numeracy. The report further faults the weaknesses in design features which compromised lessons sequencing, pace, and progression.
The above observations led to the second reform moment called the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) also known as the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS) around 2001. As Cross et al. (2002) argues, the Review Committee was not expected to abolish Curriculum 2005 or question its OBE philosophies despite local and global contestations. This Review Committee was therefore mainly concerned with addressing these issues to redeem implementation crises of the C2005 and find possible solutions to such crises. Essentially, upholding social justice, equity, and democracy formed the crux of the mandate of this Review Committee. It thus had to examine how the national and global agendas could be aligned to achieve socio-economic growth and competitiveness for the 21st century. It also examined operational realities against its strategic plans. For the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the NCS gave expression to the knowledge, skills, and values worth learning in South African schools. This curriculum aimed to ensure that children acquire knowledge and skills in ways that were meaningful to their own lives. It is evident that the NCS which emerged around 2001 marked a radical shift to disciplinary knowledge while nominally embracing horizontal discourses (Hoadley, 2017). In 2012, the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) was introduced to enlighten teachers about what they should teach in class and how they should assess learners. Although not a standalone curriculum reform moment, CAPS is also predominated by disciplinary knowledge (Hoadley, 2017). According to the [Department of Basic Education (DBE), 2002; Department of Basic Educationn (DBE), 2003], the National Curriculum Statement (NCS/RNCS) and CAPS are comprehensive policy documents which were introduced by the DBE for all the subjects listed in the NCS for Grades R-12. This means that the CAPS document is mainly part of the RNCS. While there have been some positive narratives regarding the implementation of the NCS, there are also reports on its weaknesses such as teacher overload, confusion, stress, and learner underperformance at international level. Gaps have also been reported in terms of primary and secondary education enrolment rates against tertiary education levels as the numbers entering high education have significantly reduced. Additionally, increased financing and resourcing levels have also failed to ensure improved educational quality and equality (Gamede, 2005; Du Plooy and Zilindile, 2014). While each curriculum reform has tried to mirror the much sought-after knowledge for South African society (see Hoadley, 2017), it still seems that such changes have failed to create a fully fledged democratic and equalized society. And as Cross et al. (2002) and Chisholm (2005) had argued, South Africa curriculum has often represented voices and knowledge of the powerful people hence reincarnating the inequalities of the apartheid regime. Since access to formal education is a pre-requisite for accessing powerful knowledge (Davis, 2003; Young, 2008, 2010; Davies, 2016), then exclusion in education on any basis lacks justification. Accordingly, the coming section examines the key reform issues that have challenged the development and implementation of the curriculum reforms from a social justice perspective.
Key issues challenging curriculum reforms efforts in South African schools and society
The question of language of instruction within the curriculum
We argue that the policy on language of instruction in the schools might have serious implications on both the curriculum and society since South Africa has well-over 25 tribes and languages alongside different races. This policy might also have created dilemmas not only during curriculum implementation but also during resourcing and financing stages. As Hoadley (2017) and Cross et al. (2002) had observed, both the NCS and the CAPS were challenged by lack of resources, difficult language, and confusing jargon. These problems were also flagged out in the critique to Bantu Education (Giliomee, 2009). Moreover, the 1996 South African Constitution declared eleven languages, namely isiZulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Swati, Tshivenda, and Ndebele, as official orthographies based on the number of native speakers (Kamwangamalu, 2019; Statistics South Africa, 2021; p. 8). The question that has often arisen is whether South Africa should use one language of instruction or multiple languages given the multiplicity and diversity of languages and the presence of diverse immigrant workers whose dialects are also predominantly spoken, and sometimes have helped create different sociolects, idiolects, and communalects. Moreover, debates on official orthographies are often political in nature, and what is often considered official will usually be associated with and determined by the powerful individuals of society hence licensing, reproducing, and sustaining domination and inequalities in society.
Chisholm (2005) nevertheless argues that while the domination of the white population and some tribes is partly due to the apartheid system, democratic South Africa has still tried to strengthen smaller indigenous languages through a multilingual educational policy as espoused in the 1996 Constitution. He argues that including these indigenous languages would potentially strengthen poor peoples' social and cultural positioning in society since they had been previously oppressed by the apartheid government. This argument supports the social-cultural capital and currency assumptions (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992) as opposed to Symbolic Violence and cognitive injustices (Visvanathan, 2005; de Sousa Santos, 2006, 2007, 2016). According to Visvanathan (2005), de Sousa Santos (2016) and Leibowitz (2017), Cognitive Justice, as a theory, advocates for the democratization of culture, language, and knowledge to avoid extinction of local knowledge forms (epistemicide). Chisholm further observes that the multilingual policy in education had provided for the inclusion of eleven languages and that this was the best approach for achieving cognitive and epistemological justice. This policy, however, failed to account for the contextual factors that necessitated these curriculum reforms, such as the need for a curriculum that would accommodate democracy, globalization, and neoliberal-minimalism. Thus, adopting multiple languages in schools did not only exclude international students but also children of migrant workers who were not familiar with such languages. Experience has also shown that graduates from higher schools, where the language of instruction was predominantly vernacular, have struggled to communicate effectively within different socio-economic spaces. Since universities predominantly use English as the medium of instruction, such students have failed to grapple with the academic content as well as write and argue effectively when writing assignments and examinations (Chisholm, 2005). Chisholm further contends that multilingual policies have failed within globalization by increasing differentiation, power difference endorsement, and depravations just like the apartheid system did. Agreeing with this, Kamwangamalu (2019) observes that during the apartheid era, each racial group had its own territorial area within which it developed its own cultural and language currency eventually confining the speakers of that language to a specific region hence creating some regiolects while discouraging linguistic growth and development.
There is also an argument that curriculum policies such as those on the language of instruction needed to change at the dawn of democracy in 1994 to symbolize diversity and freedoms. While diversity and freedoms mirror democratic values, various studies have also established that multilingual policies have more disadvantages than advantages in schools and society (See Chisholm, 2005; Msila, 2007). Accordingly, English was adopted as the official medium of instruction. This was because English is widely spoken within the globalized world wherein physical borders are gradually diminishing. Even then, the use of indigenous languages in schools was kept in rural elementary schools where pupils were allowed to choose the language to be used in that specific school (Msila, 2007). In some cases, the language of instruction revolved around English or Afrikaans, followed by a second language that would be used by all the students at higher education levels. In English-only schools, English became the first language (EFL), while other languages were taught as secondary languages (ESL) (Msila, 2007). The issue, however, was that while indigenous students could join all English-only schools, it was usually not the case for Afrikaans-only schools. However, in both English-only schools and Afrikaans-only schools, students learning here had not been interested to learn indigenous languages. Constitutionally, if large numbers of indigenous students want to learn indigenous languages within English-only schools, the school should oblige to the Constitutional provisions and the educational act (see Sloan, 2006). The case then for such schools, however, is the lack of human, material, and time resources to teach all those indigenous languages effectively.
Accordingly, the multilingual policy in South Africa not only put pressure on the limited resources but also promulgated social stratification. Within these contexts (Sloan, 2006), learners were faced with situations where classroom practices and instruction could not be clearly understood due to language barriers. For example, Grade 3 pupils in rural schools who were taught in vernacular languages were later examined in English. This eventually created Symbolic Violence as it deprived them of their equal and meaningful participation in education, which would in turn help them make meaningful social contributions to their societies (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). In Grade 4, these learners shifted to English as the medium of instruction, and there they had to compete with learners whose first language was English and/or indeed they came from English-only schools (Spaull, 2013). This then bred Symbolic Violence (Bourdieu, 1984; Wacquant and Bourdieu, 1992; Reay, 2003, 2004), a form of Cognitive and epistemological injustices owing to their differentiated social and cultural currencies in these contexts. On the other hand, advantaged students fit easily into the teachers' expectations due to their social currency from their homes, while the disadvantaged learners often mismatched the identity and culture of the schools (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Bourdieu and Wacquant like Shor (1987), Reay (2004) and Reay and Lucey (2003) argued that in such educational contexts, teachers should not expect the two groups to participate and perform in the same way nor should they consider the disadvantaged groups difficult and expensive to train. When marginalized students fail to participate equally and meaningfully within educational contexts, they may end up withdrawing from schooling, and/or indeed performing poorly, hence limiting their chances of social mobility, economic growth, and development within social spaces, which would later be passed over to their siblings. Darder (2018b) as postmodernist theorist has also argued for an education system that is based on humanization (love), problem-posing, and critical conscientisation. In the current arguments, we can comfortably affirm that given a humanized classroom, all forms of exclusion would have been deplored, and teachers would have strived to achieve equalized spaces where socio-economic and cultural differences mattered less through a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (Hooks, 1994; Ladson-Billings, 1995).
The question of resourcing and financing within the teaching contexts of South Africa
One of the issues that confronted the implementation of the reformed curricula in South Africa is resources and finances within the minimalist state (Cross et al., 2002; Hoadley, 2008, 2011, 2017; Hoadley and Jansen, 2009). This is the reason Stenhouse (2006) and Lovat and Smith (1995) defined the curriculum as an intention, process, and practice of which outcomes cannot be guessed. They also described the curriculum as being mainly concerned with plans, reality, truth, and knowledge. This means that any curriculum effort shall remain as plans and intentions meant to be implemented. Although the curriculum blueprint may sound good at face value, it may or may not succeed depending on various factors, one of which is resourcing and financing policies. For Stenhouse, this is what he called the gap between intentions and reality which is the central concern for curriculum researchers.
As shown above, one of the key reasons the multilingual policy failed was due to insufficient resources for empowering the teachers and the learners within such multilingual classrooms, especially at the foundation phases (Hoadley and Jansen, 2009). Similarly, Badugela (2012) argues that schools that lack resources such as language laboratories, textbooks, and qualified teachers may most likely discourage students whose language is dissimilar to that of the schools. Maphosa and Shumba (2010) deplored inadequate resourcing and financing policies in rural schools, poor working conditions, violence, vandalism, indiscipline, and crime as demotivating hardworking teachers from successfully implementing reformed curricula effectively.
According to Christe (1999), South Africa's education system has always been plagued with shortages of infrastructural, financial, and human resources which have often derailed the success of curriculum reforms. Similarly, Coetzee (2012, p. 45) argue that “…there is a strong link between school resources and level of students' academic performances,” such that if the infrastructure is wanting, there may be health and safety concerns which could then push out those teachers and students who value much their safety and security (also see Maphosa and Shumba, 2010; Vurayai, 2022). Maphosa and Shumba also identified a lack of protective fences, poor pit-latrines, unventilated classrooms, and lack of desks as being endemic in the rural schools in South Africa. They argue that since the school acts as the second home of the children (locus parentis), then students expect it to be their home where all basic resources should be available, accessible, conducive, and caring. This would then make the students feel at home and become part of the learning process in an environment that is humanized, lovely, hopeful, trustworthy, and inspiring (see Freire, 1970, 2003; Darder, 1998). For Coetzee (2012), poor quality facilities may hamper students' participation in education and could lead to high attrition rates which eventually promote curriculum injustices. Coetzee further argued that most of these conditions mainly affect learners from poor backgrounds who attend rural community schools unlike those in urban areas who can afford private schools. The danger of these differentiations is that when students grow up, they may internalize and legitimize these disparities as normal. Since poor resources have a direct relationship with poor education quality, graduates from these schools are also less likely to attend better universities and best programmes, which could land them best paying jobs for supporting their families (See Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992; Reay, 2003, 2004; Chimombo, 2005).
Likewise, Garcia-Andreu et al. (2020) report that in developed nations, education has become a key element for social stratification by providing access to better jobs of greater social status, prestige, and remuneration. They observed that while sex, gender, and race have been used to achieve vertical stratification, horizontal stratification which emanates from school quintiles and qualifications has also gained traction. Since schools located in rural areas are often poorly resourced and are unable to attract quality human resources, the quality of education has often failed to compete with those from advantaged schools on the labor market. Arguably, any form of inequality by gender, sex, resources, race, and so forth within the curriculum may help perpetuate maximumly maintained inequalities (MMIs) now and in future. In fact, several studies have shown that poverty in the South is mostly black, female, and rural and that this state of affairs points to poor education quality and failed policies (Cross et al., 2002; Statistics South Africa, 2021).
Poor sanitary facilities as precursors to social injustices in South African Schools
The lack of sanitation facilities in rural schools has also been identified as a factor that has stifled the success of the curriculum. As Coetzee (2012; p. 45) and Maile (2008) argued, “healthy and safe environment in any school is a fundamental human right. Ironically, a lot of South African rural children are being denied this right as they have limited access to clean and healthy sanitation facilities in their schools.” It is also argued that poor sanitation contravenes the right to education since it pushes away a certain section of students particularly those from elite backgrounds. Rich students may not be comfortable using dilapidated pit-latrines given their socio-economic backgrounds (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Similarly, girls may not be comfortable to share similar toilets and bathrooms with boys for fears of security, privacy and confidentiality (see Maphosa and Shumba, 2010; Vurayai, 2022). Maphosa and Shumba further contend that overcrowded classrooms make it difficult for educators to support learners and control indiscipline. For Green (2007; p. 355), “a caring environment for every student allows them to develop a sense of their own competency,” and this is the notion (see Freire, 1970, 2003; Blignaut, 2009; Biesta, 2013, 2019) considered as humanizing conditions. Similarly, Harley (2002) and Hoadley (2008) argue that the presence of poor sanitary resources in South Africa's schools has significantly contributed to the failure of learners in rural schools which eventually points to curriculum implementation flaws. Accordingly, we argue that the provision of adequate sanitation facilities should be viewed as key to improving curriculum reforms. These conditions also help promote socio-economic justice since all students feel secure hence participating in their education with nominal difficulties.
The role of long distances toward the success of curriculum in South Africa
One of the key issues that confronted the implementation of the curriculum in South Africa is long distances and transport costs when going to school. In principle, the state is obliged to provide transport for all poor learners as provided for in Section 7 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996) which advocates for equality in education. Learners who travel long distances risk their safety, experience fatigue, have their books damaged, and are drawn to absenteeism. Such learners come from rural communities whose parents have no formal employment and do survive on limited social grants, and hence cannot afford transport costs. As Chimombo (2005) and Namphande (2007) argued, since most rural communities have their schools located sparingly, cases of absenteeism and attrition are usually high. These students may repeat classes or perpetually fail examinations, which eventually forces them to withdraw from schooling. Such students may be encouraged by their parents to withdraw from schooling, and/or join farming or indeed get married and start a new life (see Chimombo, 2005; Gamede, 2005). Such children may end up reproducing socio-economic inequalities and poverty as they will remain on the margins of poverty. The case here is that distance between schools has been a serious matter within curriculum discourses in South Africa, and it is high time it was addressed by policymakers if these reforms were to succeed. In a nutshell, the noble cause envisioned by curriculum reformists has sadly turned against its own mandates as inequalities continue to exist within the schools and society in South Africa.
Excessive teacher workloads in socio-economically challenged communities
According to Chisholm (2000) and Cross et al. (2002), teacher workload refers to the amount of work to be done by a particular person (also see Heradien, 2013). Workload may have serious consequences on teachers' and students' performance especially when few teachers are available (Vurayai, 2022). When the roles of teachers are drawn, only quantity is projected, while the time spent in preparing and executing such duties is often discounted because it is qualitative. This means all efforts (quantitative and qualitative) the teacher puts into his teaching must be counted as work since it affects curriculum processes (Hoadley, 2008). Moreover, teachers who are overstretched may become exhausted and demoralized hence unable to implement the demands of the curriculum effectively (Vurayai, 2022). Specifically, in rural areas of South Africa, teachers' over-workload has been blamed on increased enrolments and inadequate staffing levels. Additionally, available teachers have had to combine academic and administrative functions due to a lack of administrators (Hoadley, 2008). These conditions have led to stress, physical, and mental burnout. Yet, a reasonable workload often increases the efficiency and effectiveness of teachers as it leads to positive student academic performance (Lemon, 2005; Hoadley and Jansen, 2009). This means that curriculum reformists should know in advance the possibility of these challenges and plan to mitigate them. Such conditions do not just unequalise the teachers but also the students as they get poor education that is unequal to the one from urban schools hence putting them at a disadvantage.
Unemployment as a symbol of curriculum injustices and inequalities
Society across the globe has associated unemployment problems with poor schooling and curriculum deficiencies. While unemployment may symbolize a broken education system, this does not necessarily mean that education has failed the state (see Vally and Spreen, 2012). First, in South Africa, youth unemployment has rapidly increased since 2008, and as of 2013, it stood at 63%, one of the highest in the world. This could be the reason Mbava (2017) argued that there could be some disconnection between the curricula and the job market. Mbava further observed that since elite schools have often performed better, they have tended to push rural school graduates to the lower income brackets in society (Spaull, 2013; p. 8; Garcia-Andreu et al., 2020). As Garcia-Andreu et al. (2020) contended, graduates from disadvantaged universities are deemed underqualified and irrelevant in the job market hence they cannot easily get employed. The average standard of educational quality is generally poor as South Africa is ranked 146 out of 148, despite being the largest economic powerhouse in Africa (Maile, 2008; p. 15). Reports like these send a clear message to employers that the value of South African degrees is negligible on the job market. Maile (2008) further argues that the unemployment crisis in South Africa does reflect racial biases that are found in the education system. He notes that while the proportion of the non-white population has significantly increased by 19% on the job market, the real skilled workforce for black Africans has only improved by 3% since 1994. Similarly, the Black population aged 25–34 years has also seen a decrease in skilled employment. This demands the South African Education Ministry to reconsider these realities to achieve genuine epistemological justice through educational offerings and job creation.
Although these debates illuminate the existing inequalities, we argue that the problems of unemployment in South Africa may not be solely blamed on education but rather on an array of factors. We conceded that indeed education has contributed to some of these problems, though not based on knowledge bodies, but rather the approaches to the curriculum. Precisely, South Africa might have missed the training of the mind but not the hands and senses. As argued by critical theorists, the mind controls everything, and educating the mind to become creative and critical could be the right thing to do (Freire, 1970, 2003; Giroux, 1985; Sen, 1999; Smith and Reo, 2009). Second, one cannot expect education to produce quality graduates when national states have engaged the overdrive gear into minimalist funding (see Vally and Spreen, 2006; Friesen, 2008). And when schools borrow the minimalist leaf, they end up functioning like commercial companies whose sole aim is to compete for accolades and profits, and under such circumstances, the question of quality disappears. It is, therefore, wrong to solely blame the curriculum for a hoard of unemployment problems instead of picking on the real culprits such as neoliberalism and the global economic meltdown.
Neoliberalism and socio-economic inequalities in schools and society
One of the key issues guiding curriculum transformation processes in South Africa is neoliberal-minimalism policies. Factually, minimalist and structural adjustments have misinformed and impoverished educational agendas and society. The curriculum reforms in South Africa have failed to achieve the intended goals partly because they were benchmarked on neoliberal-minimalism policies (see Vally and Spreen, 2012). Moreover, education being the hub of economic development, and its viable market, it has become the prime target of neo-capitalists, who have eventually succeeded through financing of various curriculum reforms at the same time pushed down their neoliberal agendas (see Apple, 2001; Roberts and Peters, 2008; Vally and Spreen, 2012).
According to Sayed and Ahmed (2011), neoliberalism is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years. Key players within neoliberalism include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other powerful organizations that now control the world's agendas. The economic crisis that began some time ago had seen profits diminishing, and the corporate elites sought to revive economic liberalism through global-market liberalism and free-trade policies (neoliberalism). Liberalism refers to a range of ideas such as politics, economics, and religion among others. In the US, political liberalism is generally presented as “progressive” or (left-wing) marked by tolerance for diverse social practices, civil liberties, and social welfare, and is contrasted with “conservative” (right-wing) politics. Nevertheless, both conservatives and liberals do support neoliberalism because it concerns money and power (Sayed and Ahmed, 2011; p. 76). Within neoliberalism, free market policies, privatization, consumerism, and commercialization have become very common. State media have often decorated neoliberalism even when they know it is harmful for justice and fairness (Vally and Spreen, 2006, 2012). Neoliberalism has harmed society through minimalism, retrenchments, privatization, and commercialization of state companies (Rizvi, 2007; Collins et al., 2015; Davies, 2016). Accordingly, Vally and Spreen (2006; p. 9) described neoliberalism as “…trivial debate over minor issues by parties that basically pursue the same pro-business policies regardless of formal differences and political debates. Democracy is permissible as long as the control of business is off-limits to popular deliberation or change, i.e., so long as it isn't democracy…, And that a depoliticised and a pathetic citizenry is a key outcome of neoliberalism, and one that is arguably abetted by new education reforms.” The authors observe that education has become the prime target of the neoliberal project because of its large market size, and the need to suppress its potential to create democratic masses who can challenge corporate globalization and monopoly (Vally and Spreen, 2012; p. 23). This then meant cutting educational funding, privatizing non-core services, outsourcing staff, and introducing less costly educational models such as ODL and e-learning. This was the only way to make educators function ineffectively and become less critical as they would use their mouths but not their brains whenever they were required to think rationally (see Roberts and Peters, 2008).
These developments have not only intensified the work of teachers but also isolated them from decision-making processes as the system now operates like private commercial entities where managers, directors, marketers, and media spinners are busy making decisions that suit capitalist agendas. These individuals have also infiltrated the curriculum reformation processes as they force their knowledge into the curriculum, how it should be taught, and when it should be measured also known as “accountability” (Vally and Spreen, 2012). Since neoliberalism emphasizes cost-effectiveness and profits over inputs and quality, it means that schools have become places for resource mobilization which could be used as performance indicators while policing expenses to make profits from the sales of research, publications, tuition fees, graduation gowns, and certificates. It is at this point that schools have subrogated their duties such as that of promoting equality and criticality. Through commodification, education can no longer serve as a public good but rather as a physical product to be sold at a pocket-breaking price (see Friesen, 2008; Roberts and Peters, 2008; Macrine et al., 2010; Vally and Spreen, 2012). These trends have been reflected in the various curriculum reforms in South Africa such as the C2005, RNCS, and CAPS, all of which promised quality education and equality to people only to end up creating further epistemological harms and wrongs. Accordingly, inequalities have increased not only among schools but also in society (Hoadley and Jansen, 2009).
Critiquing the Rawlsian and Sen's capability approaches for achieving quality and equality in education
Quality education mostly depends on adequate financing and resourcing strategies and efforts (See Chimombo, 2005; Namphande, 2007; Nsapato, 2017; Chibambo and Divala, 2020b). Resourcing and financing, however, become problematic when governments adopt minimalist stances. For example, funding schools based on quintiles, academic performance, and enrolments may disadvantage some schools especially those in rural areas as is the case in South Africa.
According to Rawls (1985), in “Justice as Fairness,” there are two main principles for deciding to resource: “liberty and equality” and “fair equality of opportunity” and the “difference principle.” Rawls understood justice as being closely linked to a standard of rightness while fairness deals with the ability to judge something without referring to one's own interests. Precisely, justice is a moral concept and an ethical obligation (we always ought to be just), while fairness is a technical concept and an ethical consideration, that assumes that humans may sometimes be right not to be fair, so long as they can account for that unfairness. Fundamentally, the notion of justice is often contestable as it touches on ethical and moral discourses. Even then, from a Rawlsian viewpoint, Justice could imply practicing equality and fairness without imbedding any exclusionary factors. The “principle of differences” contends that we can equalize people if we give more resources to those that have less, and the opposite is true. Sen (1999), however, argues that resources alone cannot be enough to equalize people as individuals have different endowments that help them convert those resources into capabilities. Accordingly, Sen argues for the Capabilities Approach (CA) in which empowerment of individuals' capabilities through strengthening their “functionings” and “doings” is encouraged (Sen, 1999; Nussbaum, 2006).
Essentially, the CA is a theoretical framework that entails two normative claims: the claim that the freedom to achieve wellbeing is of primary moral importance; and that wellbeing should be understood in terms of people's capabilities and functionings. In this context, capabilities are the “doings and beings” that people can achieve if they so choose their opportunity to do or be such things as being well-nourished, being educated, and traveling; while the “functionings” are capabilities that have been realized, and you can function effectively in society (see Sen, 1999). Whether someone can convert a set of means (resources and public goods) into a functioning (whether she/he has a particular capability) will centrally depend on certain personal, socio-political, and environmental conditions (conversion factors) (see Namphande, 2007). Capabilities have also been understood as being substantive freedoms as they represent freedoms that have been cleared of any potential obstacles, in contrast to mere formal rights and freedoms (Robeyns, 2011). While South Africa seems to have opted for John Rawls to inform their institutional policies including the judiciary, education, and municipalities among others, the CA seems to be under-employed in education given the many challenges confronting the institutions. As Cross et al. (2002) and Hoadley and Jansen (2009) had contended, the C2005, NCS, and CAPS had failed due to many reasons including a lack of adequate resources, orientation, and training of the implementors among others. The OBE which underpinned the three reforms had also failed because it simply emphasized the outcomes without considering the input side, hence teachers ended up focusing on the final product (outputs) but not the inputs which could ensure quality products.
As argued by many scholars, the quality of education informs national development and growth (Biesta, 2013; Chibambo and Divala, 2020a). Lemon (1995) further confirms that the richness of any country is a product of its expenditure on education. He contends that the introduction of minimalism in Africa had helped increase pressure on public services as governments were urged to privatize public institutions which previously served the needy. These policies have often assumed innocent names such as the massification of education, increasing equality, and human development among others while concealing their true colors (see Roberts and Peters, 2008; Vally and Spreen, 2012; Chibambo and Divala, 2020b). Additionally, the need for cost-serving measures has often led to low-quality education as resourcing and financing are deliberately reduced for profitisation. This did not spare South Africa's curriculum reforms as it is part of the global agenda. And, by insisting on programmes that are of market value as advanced by the World Bank Educational Strategy 2020 and USAID (see Vally and Spreen, 2012), it implies that the role of education had been reduced to knowledge for work, which is in itself a misrepresentation of education. These neoliberal practices have further distorted the true value and meaning of education as institutions now function like dishonest traders who deliberately distort the scales, prices, and expiry dates of their merchandise to make more profits at the expense of human life (Nel, 2005; Rizvi, 2007; Roberts and Peters, 2008). For Lemon (1995), quality education strengthens economic growth, efficiency, and citizenry empowerment in any country, and these conditions lead to equitable patterns of globalization and human welfare. Similarly, quality education benefits everyone in the country, not only through jobs but also in creating critical masses who can participate meaningfully in public life (Sen, 1999; Freire, 2003; Nussbaum, 2006).
On these bases, we find South Africa wanting particularly in balancing Sen and Rawls' approach to transforming the curriculum for equality and the common good. These debates have thus far demonstrated that education resourcing and financing in South Africa is not only crucial to achieving quality education but also to socio-economic and human liberation. These debates have further shown us that the role of education cannot be reduced to mere development of skilled workers but rather the development of human capabilities, in which individuals are developed into full beings who can effectively function within the 21st century democratic spaces.
Reconstructing socially just curriculum reforms in the context of South Africa
The above discourses have this far illuminated a lot of issues that have threatened curriculum justice and influenced socio-economic inequalities in South Africa. Poor infrastructure and sanitation, indiscipline and violence, neoliberalism and minimalism, and skewed resourcing policies have been picked as key to the collapse of curriculum reforms in South Africa. We also critiqued the poor theoretical mix for achieving equality and quality in education, especially in socio-economically challenged societies. The coming section sought to reimagine policies that may help policymakers create successful curriculum reforms. We thus focused on destabilizing neoliberalism policies because these are the policies many studies have ignored. Through this destabilization, we sought to raise points that may help educators and researchers create socially justice curriculum policies and practices.
Neoliberalism has already been defined as reincarnated neocolonialism or an extreme expression of imperialism pushed by Western organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank, Microsoft, Google, and others (Rizvi, 2007; Vally and Spreen, 2012; Mbava, 2017). It is an economic development plan which has no roots and contributions in Africa. Mbava further indicates that its underlying ideologies originated from the political debates that had more to do with economic interests than human welfare. This implies that it is a hegemonic project, which concentrates power and wealth on local and transnational elite groups around the world by transferring state-owned assets to private entities while milking the poor. Mbava also argues that it is the West's effective way of dominating post-colonial and post-communist societies, by encouraging free-market policies. Rizvi (2007), however, observes that neoliberalism has facilitated the governing of individuals from a distance through NGOs, multinational corporations, chain stores, and chain restaurants. This approach has led to the bankruptcy of governments, devaluation of local currencies, minimalism, increased bank interest rates, price liberalization, and privatization of viable state agencies. One of the targets of neoliberalism has been education for its wider market, and the desire to neutralize its powers, which create critical masses that would have otherwise challenged these bad souls (Friesen, 2008; Roberts and Peters, 2008). Accordingly, the idea was to infiltrate education by funding curriculum reforms so that it speaks to their agenda (Friesen, 2008; Vurayai, 2022). The other reason was that neoliberalists understood education as having ready-made structures and customers, hence commercializing it would be easy (Vally and Spreen, 2010). Accordingly, educational models such as ODL, weekend programmes, and e-Learning have operated on economies of scale, while seeking to maximize marginal returns. These later led to the commodification of knowledge and cognitive injustices (See Friesen, 2008; Leibowitz, 2017). Cognitive injustices had further led to the epistemicide of indigenous knowledge forms, humanities, and arts in schools (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992; Visvanathan, 2005; de Sousa Santos, 2016), while sciences have been promoted as being accountable, measurable, and objective (See Vally and Spreen, 2006; Friesen, 2008). As Young (2008) argues, cognitive injustices promote curriculum injustices between the poor and the rich. Moreover, Garcia-Andreu et al. (2020) contended that effectively managed inequalities (EMIs) have often resulted in marginalized groups accessing schools that give them passage to poorly paying jobs, while the elite continues to dominate better-paying jobs. Importantly, neoliberalism has not only affected resourcing policies but also stratified schools on the curriculum they offer and the resources to support such a curriculum. Moreover, universities have received funding based on research output, graduation levels, graduate employability, number of programmes offered, and world ranking, most of which are fraudulent practices reminiscent of neoliberalism and apartheid. The neoliberal agenda in education has also acted as a class project that has deepened gaps between the rich and the poor while fueling the destitution of poor students and society. Granted these, it is not surprising that the curriculum reforms in South Africa have not been successful as the utility policies were mainly anchored in neoliberal-minimalism which are ardently based on neocapitalism and neocolonialism. Since neoliberalism promotes competition for resources and Neo-Darwinism—conditions in which only the fittest survive—it is not surprising that the disadvantaged students and schools have been further stratified by the various curriculum reforms.
Conclusion and recommendations
We set out to examine how various curriculum reforms have failed South Africans who are socio-economically challenged. We began by discussing various reasons why curriculum reforms have failed in South Africa. We later established that lack of resources and poor resourcing policies, poor sanitation in schools, violence and indiscipline, and poverty, in general, have negatively affected curriculum implementation processes. We then moved to fault neoliberalism, though rarely held accountable by researchers, as the root cause of human suffering and inequalities in schools and society. We established that South Africa's curriculum reforms had mainly failed because these policies were guided by neoliberal-minimalism. We also argued that neoliberalism aims at the marketisation and profitisation of products and services at the expense of human welfare. These practices have often disadvantaged and disempowered the poor while benefiting the few elites. We also argued that as long as South Africa adopted minimalism, we may as well forget the calls for quality education since schools are now being urged to triple enrolments to increase profits (see Vally and Spreen, 2010; Chibambo and Divala, 2020a; Chibambo, 2023).
As Bourdieu (1979), Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992) contended, individuals must be accorded equal opportunities and concepts (resources) that can enable them to make meaningful social contributions to society. In education, denying students these resources tantamounts to depriving them of their potential to participate effectively in socio-economic and political spaces (Symbolic Violence) (see Bourdieu, 1984; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992), a form of dehumanization and epistemic injustice (Freire, 2005; Fricker, 2007; Chibambo and Divala, 2020b; Chibambo, 2023). Now, if South Africa's curriculum policies have been all that stratifying, it also implies that students from rural schools have been deprived of their right to quality education and epistemological justice. As argued before, poor quality education disempowers the mind, robs individuals of job opportunities, and paralyzes individuals' critical thinking abilities, hence such individuals may not participate actively in democratic spaces. Accordingly, we recommend curriculum policies that are guided by an array of assumptions such as those held by Bourdieu (1984), Rawls (1985), Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992), Sen (1999), and Freire (1970, 2003). As discussed before, Darder (1998, 2012, 2014, 2018a) advocated for a curriculum that is centrally anchored on humanization (love), critical conscientization, problem-solving, and dialogue as it recognizes the mind as the nerve center of the education processes. Through humanization, education stakeholders begin to think rationally and treat “others” as autonomous individuals but not as lifeless objects. Finally, rehumanized curriculum will model students into future citizens who will be creative, conscientized, and capable of challenging sources of oppression in society, and these are individuals who can easily adapt to socio-economic changes and fit well into globalized 21st century era without any problems.
All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.
Conflict of interest
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Keywords: education change, curriculum transformation, equality, social justice, curriculum injustices
Citation: Ngobeni NR, Chibambo MI and Divala JJ (2023) Curriculum transformations in South Africa: some discomforting truths on interminable poverty and inequalities in schools and society. Front. Educ. 8:1132167. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1132167
Received: 26 December 2022; Accepted: 12 May 2023;
Published: 12 June 2023.
Edited by:Julia Morinaj, University of Bern, Switzerland
Reviewed by:Elisabete dos Santos Freire, Universidade São Judas Tadeu, Brazil
Barbara Bocchi, University of Trieste, Italy
Copyright © 2023 Ngobeni, Chibambo and Divala. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Mackenzie Ishmael Chibambo, email@example.com