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As By Fire: The End of the South African University

Publish date: 14 May 2018
Issue Number: 773
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: general

As By Fire: The End of the South African University

By Jonathan Jansen

Tafelberg. R200

The university in SA is, and has been since before the end of apartheid, entangled in several social, political and economic issues reflecting some of the broader challenges facing the country. When democracy entered its second decade, the rightly and wrongly labelled born-free generation entered institutions of higher learning and these became contested environments where students demanded the realisation of the promises embodied by their liberation from apartheid. What the enduring consequences of this period might have on the future of higher education are the subject of Jonathan Jansen’s new book. As the title suggests, Jansen approaches the roots of this activist resurgence and questions the motivating factors behind trends in student movements as well as the use of violence as a mode for achieving real, sustainable transformation of universities. Departing from much of the previous analyses on campus protests, Jansen examines this topic from the perspective of a vice-chancellor, the manager of a university and locus of much of the criticisms of students. He draws from his extensive knowledge of education to interrogate the cultural, historical, social, political and economic dimensions of student activism and protests. He provides a somewhat bleak portrait of the future of the university in SA.

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