African Philosophy of Education: The Price of Unchallengeability

Studies in Philosophy and Education 28 (3):209-222 (2008)
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Abstract

In South Africa, the notion of an African Philosophy of Education emerged with the advent of post-apartheid education and the call for an educational philosophy that would reflect this renewal, a focus on Africa and its cultures, identities and values, and the new imperatives for education in a postcolonial and post-apartheid era. The idea of an African Philosophy of Education has been much debated in South Africa. Not only its content and purpose but also its very possibility have been, and continue to be, the subject of understandably passionate exchanges. In this paper, after discussing some of the constitutive features of African Philosophy of Education, we indicate aspects with which we are sympathetic. Our central question is whether African Philosophy of Education is the revisioned, ‘typically African’ philosophy of education that it is claimed to be. We argue that it has revealed certain tendencies that are remarkably similar to characteristics of Fundamental Pedagogics, the repressive doctrine complicit in apartheid education that it claims to replace. More substantially still, African Philosophy of Education, by labeling itself uniquely and distinctly ‘African’, runs the risk of insulating itself not only from interaction with the wider world but also from any critical interrogation.

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