In search of social justice through Ubuntu: a critical analysis of Zimbabwe’s post-colonial Education for All (EFA) policy.

PhD Thesis

Sibanda, S. 2019. In search of social justice through Ubuntu: a critical analysis of Zimbabwe’s post-colonial Education for All (EFA) policy. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsSibanda, S.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDegree of Doctor of Education

This thesis is an analysis of Education for All (EFA) as Zimbabwe’s post-colonial education policy. Discourse on Zimbabwe’s post-colonial education system, particularly between 1980 and 1995 tends to be a positive one, often laced with the idea that Zimbabwe’s education system was highly successful in addressing inequalities that had been characteristic of the colonial education system. While it can be argued that there is some measure of ‘truth’ in this narrative, no apparent research has been conducted to date, specifically assessing the social justice imperatives of the claimed educational successes. As such, the aim of this research, particularly given the historic inequalities and imbalances of the colonial era, was, firstly, to establish whether the EFA policy in Zimbabwe reflects Ubuntu social justice? Secondly, whether by implementing this policy the government has succeeded in making Zimbabwe’s education more socially just.

In a deliberate effort to avoid imperialistic and colonising research methodologies, this research has adopted an Afrocentric paradigm. Ubuntu as a Southern African concept of being (personhood) was used as both an analytical lens and methodology for analysing the EFA policy. This research is therefore ground-breaking, both methodologically and in terms of the research focus. It is my contribution to the on-going discourse on social justice education in formally colonised and oppressed communities.

This research found that while Zimbabwe achieved unprecedented outcomes in terms of educational expansion, access and raising literacy levels, the government failed to reform the system in terms of its social justice agenda. While the EFA policy was premised on education as a human right and therefore foundationally consistent with an Ubuntu theory of social justice, it still failed to address social justice issues from an Ubuntu perspective as it remained anchored on a Euro-Western conceptualisation of human rights as individualistic. This research also concluded that challenges in reforming the education system, particularly the curriculum; were caused by a ‘passive revolution’ which failed to transform the colonial socio-economic, and political infrastructure. Consequently, the foundations for an Ubuntu informed socially just education system do not yet exist in Zimbabwe.

KeywordsZimbabwe; education policy
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Publication process dates
Deposited22 Nov 2019
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