Critical Voices


On 4 October 2016, the Miratho research team, national and international university graduate students and lecturers, the Thusanani Foundation and young activists gathered at the UFS for a day of critical discussion, where we asked questions related to what radical/transformed universities ought to look like in South Africa.

Starting in the morning, we talked about how Amartya Sen’s capability approach can help us in thinking this through, and what conceptual gaps in the approach should be considered, in light of the broader question of ‘just’ universities and the challenge of inclusive learning outcomes.

We also discussed how debates over decolonization can help us think through this challenge, and how we can then understand research into opportunities for access and participation in knowledge and pedagogies, as well as outcomes in this moment of decolonization and against a background of persistent structures of inequality and exclusion at multiple levels. Throughout the afternoon, we reflected on how higher education contributes to building a democratic and just society, and how our Miratho project might contribute usefully to thinking about and acting towards improving and transforming universities, higher education policy, and individual lives (particularly those of rural and township youth). It was also important for us to talk about how young people can best be involved in the research process and why might this be important, as well as who should be engaged in the research process and knowledge findings and why. Our conversations were fruitful and insightful, as participants shared and exchanged information, ideas, perspectives and experiences related to the topics discussed. We are grateful to everyone who participated in this event, which was the first of many public engagement activities that we envision (and deem necessary) for the project.