‘You have to change, the curriculum stays the same’: decoloniality and curricular justice in South African higher education

Kibbie Naidoo, Sheila Trahar, Lisa Lucas, Patricia Muhuro, Gina Wisker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper reports on a study that focuses on students from rural areas of South Africa and their experiences of higher education. Students from such areas, one of the most marginalised groups, have attracted little attention in widening participation research (Mgqwashu 2016a). This paper, drawing on the experiences of student co-researchers and using the concepts of decoloniality and curricular justice as a theoretical framework, argues for greater acknowledgement of epistemic reciprocity in curriculum development as a way to ensure more socially just curricula. Findings illustrate the importance that students attribute to being able to relate to curricula that reflect their experiences andindigenous knowledge systems, curricula they do not experience inhigher education. Students report feelings of marginalisation, lack of recognition of the importance of knowledge and skills developed in their communities and their relevance to higher education together with the challenges they face accessing and engaging with the curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2020


  • rurality
  • curriculum development
  • curricular justice
  • decoloniality
  • epistemic justice
  • reciprocity

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