Call for papers

Call for Papers Special Themed Issue 2018

Educational Research for Social Change



Decolonising education: perspectives and debates

Guest editor: Aslam Fataar (Stellenbosch University):


Calls for decolonising education that recently accompanied the student protests at South African universities are not new, having first emerged in the context of decolonising struggles against colonial rule during the 1950s and 1960s.  The calls are based on a negation of modern colonial education whose organising principle centred on shaping the colonised into colonial subjects, in the process stripping them of their humanity and full potential. The knowledges of colonised groups, non-Europeans and indigenous folk were suppressed, or as the decolonial scholar, Boaventura de Sousa Santos explains, their knowledges suffered a form of ‘epistemicide’, which signifies their evisceration from the knowledge canon. The knowledge of the (colonial) university or school paid little to no attention to indigenous knowledges, the knowledges of the working poor, or the literacies of urban black female dwellers, for example.  It favoured the western canon, founded on a separation of the modern western knowledge from its non-western knowers, suggesting that modern knowledge would help instantiate modern subjects. Becoming a modern subject was the fulcrum of colonial education.

In South Africa, this view has been called into radical controversy by the students’ recent calls for decolonising education. They are demanding a type of cognitive justice based on an expansion and complete overhaul of the western knowledge canon. The call is also for knowledge pluralisation, which refers to incorporation of the complex ways of knowing of subaltern and all previously excluded groups. However, the call for decolonisation of knowledge is being echoed world-wide. Decolonised knowledge is based on the inclusion of all knowledge forms bequeathed to humanity; including African, indigenous, Arab-Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, Indo-American, Asiatic, and western knowledge forms.  This ‘all-inclusive’ approach to knowledge is based on an inter-cultural understanding of multiple and heterodox forms of being human.  This approach would seek to undermine ‘knowledge parochialism’, which is the idea that one’s own knowledge system is superior and thus sufficient for complex living.

The call is for schools, colleges, and universities to cultivate respect for people and their cultural and knowledge systems. These institutions should make available to their students knowledges across the widest possible human spectrum.  University curricula should work across the various knowledge and science systems to establish dialogical platforms about actual and potential futures. Decolonising education eschews static knowledge orientations.  It is founded on a type of complex knowledge dynamism in fidelity to disciplinary and trans-disciplinary foundations, and always alert to a type of problem-posing dynamism.  In other words, knowledge constructions ought to be approached as dynamic, disciplined and patient constructions that advance sustainable livelihoods.

The call for decolonising education is nothing less that the full incorporation of humanity’s knowledge systems into the curriculum and knowledge selection systems of universities and schools.  The modalities of such incorporation ought to be the subject of urgent conversation in policy circles, among curriculum workers, learning materials and textbook designers, and, crucially, among university lecturers and school teachers.

This special edition invites articles that address the issues raised in the brief provided above.  Articles can also focus on the following questions:

  • What knowledge ecologies are appropriate/recognized for our context? And why?
  • How can we (do we) address the decolonisation of knowledge, curriculum and / or pedagogy within our teaching and research?
  • What are the political and pragmatic implications of decolonising education? What principles/philosophies might inform them?
  • What research methodologies might advance the decolonisation of education?


Case studies based on research into aspects of decolonising education are also welcome.


1 April 2017:                                    Call for papers issued

1 August 2017:                                Deadline for submission of manuscripts

1 October 2017:                              Feedback on reviews

1 November 2017:                           Submit reworked papers

1 January 2018:                               Submit manuscripts to ERSC editors for final review

1 February 2018:                             Accepted manuscripts submitted to production editor

Publication date:                              May 2018

Contact details

Please e-mail manuscripts to:, noting they are for Issue 14a. Instructions for authors are available on

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