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South African Journal of Education

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From ‘borrowing’ to ‘learning’ in international comparative study: a critical reflection

C de Wet, C Wolhuter

Abstract


The state of public education debate, which to a great ex ten t on ly ref lects policies and practices ab road, is exam ined. Th e process of lea rning from others should replace the process of borrowing (of usually inappropriate policies/practices) from others. Two examples of the issues involved in the debate on pub lic education, namely, Outcomes-Based Education and Medium of Instruction, were analysed through reference to media reports and discussions and through applying the time-honoure d, seasoned and responsible principle of ‘learning’ rather than ‘borrowing’ from others, as prescribed by the science of Comparative Ed uc atio n. It was found that journalists and guest authors summarily employed policies and practices from abroad to m otivate the ir own p oin ts of view and even used these as points of departure for political discourses. There was no sign of a scie ntific factoring-in of contextual similarities and differences between South African education system s and tho se abroad. This is a highly questionable and dangerous practice. In this regard Comparative Education ists have an important role to play in supplying a superstructure of relevant knowledge to inform eduacation policy formulation.



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