Reconstruction from the ruins: higher education policy and the cultivation of citizenship in the new South Africa

  • M Kissack
  • P Enslin


Since 1994 national higher education policy has demanded radical reconstruction of the higher education sector in South Africa. But as well as addressing their divided and unequal past and the globalisation of higher education, our universities also face a global crisis in higher education, which Bill Readings (1996) has dubbed "the university in ruins". This article raises some critical concerns about current conceptions of the South African university. Our central focus is on the notion of citizenship education as an aim of tertiary education. We begin with an account of the ruination of our universities under apartheid. This is followed by a discussion of Gerard Delanty's (2001) analysis of the evolution of the contemporary university and the impact of the democratic cultural model on its work. Following Delanty, we explore the implications of the imperative to complement social citizenship with technological and cultural citizenship. Philosophical pragmatism, we argue, points the way to filling in some of the silences in current approaches to these issues, suggesting a radical reformulation of university curricula.

(South African Journal of Higher Education: 2003 17 (3): 36-48)

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eISSN: 1011-3487