Surveying Post-Apartheid Curricular Change at Four South African Tertiary Music Departments

  • Mieke Struwig


Despite several recent contributions by South African music studies scholars regarding the lack of curricular transformation in South African tertiary music departments and the ongoing hegemonic superiority of Western art music ( Stolp 2015, 2016; Mapaya 2016; Viviers 2017; Fourie et al. 2018; King 2018), the extent, or lack, of post-apartheid curricular transformation at South African music departments has not yet been the subject of systematic scrutiny. This article begins to address this gap by means of a critical post-apartheid curriculum history of the music departments at four institutions – Stellenbosch University, Nelson Mandela University, the University of Cape Town and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Following the work of Agbedahin and Agbedahin (2019), I argue that such a critical curriculum history can significantly contribute to curriculum transformation. I start by surveying existing literature on the state of the South African tertiary music curriculum. By means of an examination of yearbooks as well as interviews with current and past staff members, the curriculum at each of the included departments is then surveyed. I then focus on four particular areas of interest, namely the bureaucratic nature of many of the curricular changes, the continued marginalisation of nontraditional modules, the optimisation of choice as part of curriculum change strategies which then becomes part of a neo-liberal ethos (and within a certain environment runs the risk of the continuation of established patterns, albeit now as optional rather than  mandatory) and the persistence of problematic terminology. Finally, I offer an analysis of the surveyed changes in terms of Cross's (2004) add-on, affirmative and critical transformative approaches to curriculum change.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-509X