Higher education and the liberation struggle in the former Qwaqwa homeland: A Freirean approach

  • Dipane J. Hlalele University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Keywords: Liberation struggle, Education for empowerment, Higher education, Oppression, Freedom, Hope, Vryheidstryd, Onderwys vir bemagtiging, Hoër onderwys, Verdrukking, Vryheid, Hoop


Paulo Freire’s widely respected work on pedagogies of the oppressed (1996) and hope (1992) made him known across the world. He is known to have, among many of his unravelling thoughts, objected to oppression and illuminated hope and freedom for the oppressed. In addition, Freire maintained that the liberation of the oppressed and, by extension, the liberation of the oppressor can emanate only from the oppressed. Thus, the ball in this regard may inadvertently be seen to be in the court of the oppressed. The South African higher education system in particular, as well as the education system in general, have continuously presented, contrary to the oppressors’ intentions, lecture rooms as sites or spaces where oppressive tendencies were deliberated and challenged. Contributing to the interrogation of, or on, oppression was an underlying quest for liberation, grounded on the utility of higher education as a vehicle for liberation. Therefore, higher education could not be divorced from the liberation struggle. In this article, the author traverses the history of the liberation struggle through the eyes of those who cared to write about it, as well as those who walked and toiled the grounds and lecture rooms of the then University of the North (Qwaqwa Branch), and the three former teacher training colleges in the former Qwaqwa homeland. It is argued that, while the reason for the existence of the former was to build capacity among the civil servants in the homeland and the provision of teaching qualifications for the latter (colleges), those higher education institutions made far-reaching and indelible contributions in respect of dealing with oppression and advancing the liberation struggle during the apartheid era and beyond.


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