In the Media
Mixed messages deepen inequality
6 Nov | Mail and Gaurdian | Robert J Balfour
Has higher education become the poisoned gift of national liberation? Robert Aman, a lecturer in inclusive education, argues that the multicultural agenda in mordern states is dead in the water, and that multiculturalism is nothing more than state-insitutionalised seperate development. Western culture remains relatively untouched by the proximity of other groups and is in a perpetual conflict with othered groups.
Equal education –where and for who?
26 Aug 2015 | The Teacher, Mail and Gaurdian | Robert J Balfour
The recent swathe of higher educati on policy reform and development in South Africa, concerning the role of information and communicati ons technologies (ICTs) in distance as well as contact education, holds the promise of making higher quality teaching accessible to learners in schools as well as higher education institutions.
Our cultures should interact, not just coexist
Robert J Balfour
Rocking the boat: ‘The vocal defence of multiculturalism that we frequently hear these days is very often nothing more than a plea for plural monoculturalism,’ Amartya Sen writes. Photo: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images
Ideas about which language to use as the medium of instruction remain contested around the world in education and politics, especially in countries described as multicultural.
In China, bilingual policies are meant to promote the state and community languages in multilingual regions. The interpretation of such policies influences the survival of indigenous languages and also the ability of communities to gain access to higher education and economic and social mobility.
More must walk the linguistic talk at universities
Robert J Balfour
Three years ago the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) implemented a language policy centred on the bilingual use of isiZulu and English. The policy required that isiZulu be developed as the university’s language of teaching and learning, and that students begin to use the language in selected modules and programmes.
Reports on the policy, controversial since its inception, were featured in the provincial and national press. It was anticipated that it would fail; that students would find the use of isiZulu in an academic context artificial and problematic. It was also suggested that the policy would result in a brain drain, entailing the flight of top academics, international and local students to other universities.
A lesson in power and privilege
The recent debates about selected practices associated with the orientation and introduction programme of the North-West University's (NWU's) Potchefstroom campus have been conducted in typical media style — sensational, selective reporting tending towards persuasion rather than reflection.
The leadership of the university has responded to allegations in a variety of forums, and to a variety of people, not least of which in response to the statement issued by the ministry of higher education and training. In all NWU's representations, the point has been made about the context in which the Nazi-style salute took place, and in all instances this context has been used not to defend the practice — one clearly offensive and, incommensurate with the university's values — but rather in mitigation of the event.
Teacher education: grounds for cautious optimism
16 May 2014|Mail & Gardian| Robert Balfour
Michael Rice and Mary Debrick’s recent article is one of several that underscore the importance of teacher education in South Africa, not only to create a sustainable economy but also in support of the state’s commitment to a transformed society in which nonracism and nonsexism are cornerstones (”How should teachers be taught?”, Mail & Guardian, March 28).
The problems in teacher education need to be considered in relation to both this broad transformation project and the evidence of progress in the quality of curricula offered in post-1994 higher education institutions.
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Our education needs an extreme makeover
12 January 2014|Sunday Times (NWU Newsroom)| Robert Balfour
(Prof Robert Balfour, Dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences, wrote this opinion piece that was published in the Sunday Times.)
The Department of Basic Education has painted a rosy picture of the 2013 Grade 12 results, but senior officials at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of the Free State say that pass mark standards ought to be raised.
This cannot be an adequate response to the lingering crisis in education in South Africa.
The mismatch between higher education’s expectations of Grade 12 graduates, and what is delivered year on year is increasing. This mismatch is growing as fast as the mismatch between industry expectations and the graduates higher education produces.
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