Summary of South African Science Faces Its Future

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South Africa has been democratic for 24 years, yet the legacy of apartheid lingers on. Blacks may hold political power, but the country’s white minority still holds the lion’s share of the country’s wealth. A similar dynamic is at play at South African universities. Although black students have been gradually increasing in number, they continue to be vastly underrepresented among academics. A new generation of black academics, however, point to an even deeper problem: the fact that indigenous knowledge and concerns continue to be marginalized in an educational system built by and for white Europeans. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone concerned with the ethics and politics of education and academia.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How South African universities still suffer from the legacy of colonialism,
  • Why students are protesting at South African universities, and
  • How black South African academics are trying to make research more relevant for indigenous South Africans. 

About the Author

Linda Nordling is a freelance journalist in Cape Town, South Africa.



University research in South Africa continues to bear the fingerprints of apartheid and colonialism.

White people of European descent created South Africa’s university system, and their values and ideas continue to dominate educational curricula and research agendas at the country’s universities. During apartheid, the white ruling class often used science to justify racist policies. Today, black people make up less than 35% of academics despite constituting 80% of the country’s population. Meanwhile, the country’s public education system fails to prepare black students for...

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