© 2017

Science Education and Curriculum in South Africa


  • Explores the significance of power in the historical development of physical science curriculum in South Africa

  • Research suggests that Physical Science as a school subject was designed neither to liberate nor to empower the black learner, but that it acted as a form of policing and exercising social control

  • Author uses a phenomenological approach to explore scientific thinking in relation to life experience, learning, and curriculum design


Part of the Curriculum Studies Worldwide book series (CSWW)

About this book


This book explores the impact of the socio-historical, political, and economic environment in South Africa, both during and after Apartheid. During this time, the South African education system demonstrated an interest in a specific type of knowledge, which Koopman refers to as ‘a science of government’. This ‘science of government’ leaves the learners with a blurred understanding of science that is disconnected from external nature and human nature, and is presented as a series of abstract concepts and definitions. The book also investigates the dialectical tensions between the science curriculum and the role of the teacher as an active implementer of the curriculum. The book draws on the work of various phenomenological scholars, namely Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Max van Manen to discuss these tensions.


apartheid education culture of performativity science education curriculum studies subjective knowing

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Cape Peninsula University of TechnologyKuils RiverSouth Africa

About the authors

Oscar Koopman is Lecturer in Chemistry at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. Koopman has found his home in phenomenology by exploring what it means to be a science teacher in contemporary South Africa, given the long history of apartheid and apartheid education in the country. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Science Education and Curriculum in South Africa
  • Authors Oscar Koopman
  • Series Title Curriculum Studies Worldwide
  • Series Abbreviated Title Curriculum Studies Worldwide
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and the Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-40765-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-82177-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-40766-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 187
  • Number of Illustrations 3 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Curriculum Studies
    Learning & Instruction
    History of Education
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