Discussant: Patrick Ahern, University of Dayton
8:30-9:45 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, Kennedy Union Room 310

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Saturday, November 4th
8:30 AM

The Public Good in South African Education: The Lifeblood of Democracy

Pagiel Joshua Chetty

Kennedy Union 310 (on UD's main campus)

8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

This paper investigates how the concept of education as a public good in South Africa has been affected by privatisation since 1994. This study locates itself within a human rights framework, which is premised upon South Africa’s (seemingly progressive) Constitution of 1996 and seeks to investigate the potential shift of education as a public good (that truly benefits the public) towards a more market-based and neoliberal approach to education provision. In this regard, I analyse the annual South African education budget vote speeches presented in the South African Parliament by successive post-apartheid Ministers of Education from 1994 to 2021. As its core focus, this study theorises that the notion of education as a public good has shifted and changed in meaning since 1994. I investigate this by tracking its perceived change in meanings using a qualitative research design known as the Narrative Policy Framework, which I leverage using a Thematic Analysis approach. This approach is used as a data reduction and analysis strategy. This study argues that the re- articulation of public education under the broad rubric of neoliberal thought has fundamentally impacted the concept of education as a public good and education as a fundamental human right in South Africa in the post-apartheid era. Furthermore, despite the goal of making education universally available, the increasing encroachment of ‘the market’ in public education provision consolidates and creates new forms of inequalities, thereby enlarging the general inequality gap.

Unity as Resistance to the Unreliable Narrator

Jairus Hallums

Kennedy Union 310 (on UD's main campus)

8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

According to the 2017-2018 National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 80% of American public elementary and secondary school educators are White, leaving Black, Hispanic, Native American (and Indigenous) and bi-racial educators to make up the remaining 20%. Additionally, according to the United States Census bureau, the racial makeup of the United States is expected to become more diverse, particularly in the Black and Latinx racial groups (Vespa, et al., 2020). Knowing the American P-12 public education system educates the majority of the United States’ children, several questions arise as to the capacity of educators to “do no harm” to Black children, particularly, in the face of demographic changes, since most educators are White.

With a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, American public education has sought—in many respects—to include more diverse pedagogical approaches (e.g., Culturally-Relevant Pedagogy and anti-racist pedagogy) and curricula (e.g., The 1619 Project and the Advanced Placement African American Studies course) to rectify historical failures in educating Black students. While each of these approaches provides a point of entry to engaging the Black experience—in its variety—each of these approaches is often delivered through “unreliable narrators” in the classroom. The educator-makeup versus the student-makeup yields a numerical conundrum, for sure; but it also yields concerns for whether African American students can truly learn about who they are in spaces where they are taught by those who cannot relate to their historical or present realities.

In this paper, I seek to situate the current educational concerns of African American students within the broader African Diasporic conversations about uplift and liberation. Building upon the work of those, like W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X), I seek to provide a possible solution to the educational dilemma of African American students: (re)connecting educators and students across the Diaspora, 1) to retain the momentum of memory, 2) to bridge alliances to counter the nationalization of Blackness, and 3) to counter the impacts of neoliberal capitalism, which has framing tendencies for human understanding and human meaning, which shapes how African American students interact with others.

Building Antiracist Communities of Practice that Result in Transformative Learning Spaces: A Social Education Project

Aaliyah Baker
Marisol Morales, American Council on Education

Kennedy Union 310 (on UD's main campus)

8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

In killing rage: Ending Racism (1995), bell hooks talks about her writing of this work as being “fundamentally optimistic”, as ‘courageously and fiercely critical”, and as “forging a politics of solidarity”. The creation and evolution of a cross-institutional anti-racism community of practice was drawn to that path. In this workshop, we demonstrate how creating antiracist spaces and connecting with others allow us to explore the role of racism in our lives, our institutions, and our nation. We aim to build the capacity to support a commitment to racial justice in community-engaged work by naming anti-black racism as a human rights violation, centering experience, critical reflection, and rational disclosure (Valamis, 2021). We implement transformative learning theory to explore a connection between antiracism and human rights as an institutional practice. The layered realities of racial injustice as captured by the political rhetoric of divisiveness within the context of a threatened American democracy can feel overwhelming. When we create space to process, reflect, and if possible feel and heal, the heaviness of this time can be met with an eye toward hope, possibility, and care --- the kind of intentional practice and courageous care that can only really happen in the community. As a byproduct of the success of an antiracism community of practice, we will initiate a space for discussion and exploration and end with strategies for solidarity and action. The organic nature of this kind of process allows us to experience the power of holding space for each other with the messy, hurtful, and embedded aspects of racism that creates division yet also allows us to channel hope and bask in the possibility of bridges not barriers in antiracist work.

Ensuring Inclusive Development in Africa: Fostering Inclusive Education of Students with Disabilities

Brenda Koule Mewemdjo, Institut Universitaire des Grandes Ecoles Tropiques

Kennedy Union 310 (on UD's main campus)

8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

The right to education is essential for human development. It is undeniable that persons who cannot access education do not reach their full potential. For persons with disabilities, education is the bridge to participate in innovation and improve their quality of life. Therefore, ensuring the education of students with disabilities is crucial to secure an inclusive development in Africa.

However, historically persons with disabilities considered as curse for their families, are viewed as ‘uneducable’ and kept behind closed doors, away from schools and therefore are bound to be excluded from development. To address this problem, the international community adopted various treaties to cater for education for all including, the Convention on the Right of the Child and the Convention on the Right Persons with Disabilities in which the right to education for all is central. At the African regional level, the African Charter on Human and People Rights (the Charter), the African Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provide for the right to education of children. Moreover, the current draft Protocol to the Charter on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes the right to education for students with disabilities.

Nevertheless, while it is good to adopt laws to foster inclusive tertiary education, it is essential to ensure their implementation. The aim of this paper is to explore what should be done to further inclusive education for the benefit of students with disabilities. This is critical to ensure their involvement in development policies and processes. It argues that the starting point should be to raise awareness on disability as element of human diversity. In addition, policy makers should ensure the explicit inclusion of the right to education of students with disabilities in national constitutions. Disability rights and the right to education in particular should be given a special place in the national policy arena as to addressing budgetary and awareness gaps associated with various aspects of the education of students with disabilities. Ultimately, inclusive tertiary education should be fostered as to ensure that students with disabilities are not left behind in Africa’s development.