Wits University academic activist Leigh-Ann Naidoo
Wits University academic activist Leigh-Ann Naidoo

Call to decolonise entire university, education system

By Zelda Mvana Time of article published Apr 20, 2017

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Wits University academic activist Leigh Ann Naidoo has called for the decolonisation of the country’s entire university and education system, saying it comes from a “violent and problematic” process.

Naidoo, who was part of a team of the Women’s Boat to Gaza last year, which was captured by Israeli forces, gave a talk about the decolonisation of education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology yesterday afternoon.

Naidoo, a PhD student on student movements, has been involved in the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and #EndOutsourcing movements that took place across campuses in 2015 and 2016.

She addressed a group of journalism students about student movements, decolonising the university space and curriculum, and is an advocate for change in the higher education sector

“The entire university and education system comes from the process of colonisation as it (colonisation) was violent and problematic, which has set up structures and hierarchies,” said Naidoo

She said it was important that there is radical change in South Africa, by having campaigns and awareness programmes that open people’s minds and change their way of seeing things.

“As an activist decolonisation is something that everyone is still dealing with, there’s been violence wherever there has been decolonisation,” she said.

“It is not enough to say that we must transform universities, but we have to decolonise them and look seriously at what colonisation did and undo it,” said Naidoo.

Being present at the Rhodes Must Fall movement made Naidoo realise the decolonisation of education was important because students started to think about what needed to change at UCT.

“That is where the word decolonisation re-entered the South African landscape,” said Naidoo.

It is “imperative if we look at how inequality has increased in South Africa since 1994", Naidoo added. "It is clear that education on its own will not solve our problems.”

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