Reappraising learning programmes and knowledge production in higher education in post-apartheid South Africa

  • I M Ntshoe


Benchmarking curricula, learning programmes and research designs in our globalising, knowledge-intensive and technology-driven society remains a major challenge for higher learning institutions (HLIs). The prevailing trend is to benchmark curricula, learning programmes and research in higher education (HE) in terms of single disciplines, subjects and courses. This has led to the division of academia into separate faculties, departments and units. This article contests the conventional view of planning curricula, learning programmes and research in terms of single disciplines and argues for designs underpinned by interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary planning. It argues that, although single-disciplinary designs have undoubtedly contributed to the creation of knowledge, this practice has theoretical and practical limitations, particularly in the globalising, knowledge-intensive and technology-driven society. It further argues that the proposed interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary designs are useful tools for transforming qualification-based curriculum planning in HE in South Africa. It also argues that although programme-based planning was proposed four years ago as part of transforming the HE sector, the implications of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary planning and how it may improve practice remain unexplored. Furthermore, there is growing recognition in HE in general and in South Africa in particular that HLIs are no longer exclusive producers of knowledge in the current learning society. The implication of this recognition is that application-driven and participatory research should take preference to propositional and homogeneous knowledge in research agendas.

(South African Journal of Higher Education: 2003 17 (1): 61-66)

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eISSN: 1011-3487