What is decolonised education?

UCT student Athabile Nonxuba explains what students mean by the term, and why they want it

What is decolonised education?

Cape Town - The students marching against fee increases on campuses countrywide say their campaign is also a call for decolonised, Afrocentric education.

During one of the marches this week, News24 asked UCT student Athabile Nonxuba to explain what students mean by decolonised education, and why they want it.

This is what he told us:

- The current curriculum dehumanises black students.

“We study all these dead white men who presided over our oppression, and we are made to use their thinking as a standard and as a point of departure.”

- Our own thinking as Africans has been undermined. We must have our own education from our own continent;

- We cannot be decolonised by white people who colonised us;

- Decolonisation advances the interests of Africans, instead of advancing Eurocentric interests.

''Eurocentrism does not serve our interests culturally, socially, economically. It does not resolve the issues of Africa.''

- Education is not neutral, it serves particular interests.

- Students are forced to accept certain standard works to study in certain fields - even the work of Karl Marx. Although considered worthy, the German philosopher’s work is offered repeatedly as a standard, instead of introducing new ideas by Africans;

- White lecturers teach students African music and the base of music studies is classical European music.

- The curriculum does not accommodate creativity and expression in African languages. For example, drama students feel they are marked lower if they produce work in an African language;

- Decolonised education is not the same as transformed education;

- For decolonised education to be introduced, the existing system must be overthrown and the people it is supposed to serve must define it for themselves.

''We want to review that system and that curriculum, and that can't happen without a decolonised institution.''

For further reading on the topic he suggests these writers for starters:

- Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Decolonising the Mind , Frantz Fanon, Phumla Gqola, Kopano Ratele, and Angela Davis.

This article first appeared on News24