Call for Papers: Special Issue of Perspectives in Education


There is no space for him (the "Native") in the European Community above certain forms of labour. For this reason, it is of no avail for him to receive training which has its aim in the absorption of the European Community, where he cannot be absorbed. Until now he has been subjected to a school system that drew him away from his community and misled him by showing him the greener pastures of European Society where he is not allowed to graze (Hendrik Verwoerd as captured in Kallaway, 1982:92)

However, education practice must recognise that it has to deal with a Bantu child, i.e. a child trained and conditioned in Bantu culture, endowed with a knowledge of a Bantu language and imbued with values, interests and behaviour patterns learnt at the knee of a Bantu mother. These facts must dictate to a very large extent the content and methods of his or her early education (Eiselen as captured in Rose and Tunmer, 1975:251)

By firmly anchoring the schools in the life of the people, education would no longer encourage escape from Bantu society but would fulfil its true function of uplifting the community as a whole and of training leaders for this community (Eiselen as quoted in Seroto, 2013:104)

Questions on the usefulness of apartheid racial constructs and categories are being asked in academic and popular avenues. In this special issue, we seek to interrogate the construct of the “African child” and the educational provisions for African learners in South Africa 24 years after the collapse of apartheid. It is helpful to trace the genealogy of the construct of the “African child” from its use in the Eiselen Commission, a historical construct that was produced socially, institutionally and culturally to give legitimacy to apartheid and Bantu education. To what extent, then, has education provision in South Africa been able to redefine the trajectories of African youth? Is the construct of the “African child” still useful in contemporary South Africa? Eiselen manufactured the “African child” identity through a process that sought to present the “Bantu” as an anthropological figure that could be “systematically classifiable and, like any zoological species, available as an object of knowledge for inspection and analysis” (Soudien, 2006:46). Thus, we wonder whether the essentialisations captured through racist apartheid discourses have been sufficiently troubled and scholastically examined, in particular at the basic education level. We question how this construct becomes caught up in the circulating racial tensions in social and institutional spaces around the country – a black boy was, for instance, painted white and sexually molested with a broom by his white peers at school a few years ago (see Evans, 2015). Our concerns are more so emphasised given the calls to decolonise education that demand the interrogation of inherited categories.

However, we are cognisant that racial issues cannot be understood outside an intersectional approach that takes into account other forms of identification. In her seminal collection of essays, Changing Class, Linda Chisholm (2004) asks critical questions about the state of education in South Africa 10 years after the collapse of apartheid. This collection demonstrates the dynamics of race and class in shaping educational provision. In the period since this collection, there have been growing concerns from government and the public about the type of education that African children are receiving (see Bloch, 2011). We wish though to problematise the single notion of the “African child”, by interrogating how this construct relates to class, gender, sexuality, disability and other social identifications. What does it mean to be a child in the present South African context? To what extent are young people less by one or other identity and more by violence, by digital media, by addiction, by celebrity culture? Has there been a change in the ways in which childhood is understood? How do we think about the “African child” who is a migrant, either within the South African borders or across them? How might this child be educated, bearing in mind the pressures of neoliberalism and globalisation?

We hope in this issue to initiate debate about the role of race and apartheid racial categories 24 years after apartheid. We also wish to see submissions that complicate discussions on race by drawing on intersections of class, gender, sexuality, disability and nation and that also question the notion of childhood. Essentially, we are seeking to bring the debate around decolonisation to the front door of basic education.

Bloch, G. 2011. The toxic mix. Cape Town: Tafelberg.

Chisholm, L. 2004. Changing class: Education and social change in post-apartheid South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Evans, S. 2015. Video shows boy being raped in 'race attack'. Available at

Kallaway, P. 1984. Apartheid and education: The education of black South Africans. Johannesburg: Ravan Press.

Seroto J. 2013. A revisionist view of the contribution of Dr Eiselen to South African education: New perspectives. Yesterday and Today, 9: 81-109

Soudien, C. 2006. Racial discourse in the commission on native education (Eiselen Commission), 1949-1951: The making of a 'Bantu' identity. Southern African Review of Education, 11(1): 41–57.

Rose, B. & Tunmer, R. 1975. Documents in South African education. Johannesburg: AD Donker

Completed manuscripts should be emailed for review to: using “PiE special issue 2018” as the subject line.


Closing date for submission of abstracts: 15 June 2018

Deadline for submission of papers: 03 August 2018

Review process: 06 August-30 October 2018

Revisions and finalisation: November 2018

Publication date: December 2018

PiE checklist for article submissions:

  • Article must be between 5800-6400 words (all inclusive)
  • Article must be referenced according to the Harvard referencing method
  • Article must be language edited (proof must be provided with article submission)
  • Article must be in an MS Word format
  • Article must have an abstract
  • Article must have 4-6 keywords
  • Article contains little to no self-referencing by the author(s)
  • A separate document containing author details must accompany an article submission
  • A clear statement regarding ethical clearance and the approval process for the research must be made