Decentralization of Education in Postapartheid South Africa

From post-colonial apartheid to post-apartheid democracy
Living reference work entry
Part of the Global Education Systems book series (GES)


The ongoing debates on education decentralization are sparked by multiple factors, including both managerial and financial concerns influencing the delivery of higher education in Africa and globally. Africa experienced colonialism and has education systems, which are progressively influenced by the upsurge of new managerialism rooted in neoliberalistic and neo-conservatist ideologies. This chapter provides an analysis of how higher education in South Africa responds to the sudden reorientation towards running institutions as private business entities, through market-driven strategies and with less state subsidy. It should be understood that the South African context of social justice education concerns itself with the achievement of quality and equitable education among all students from diverse backgrounds. It has the exclusive objective of attaining “full and equal participation of all groups” (The OECD 2012). This is propagated in a society that is mutually shaped to meet the needs of its diverse groups. Though postapartheid South Africa is “democratic” in many ways, one cannot deny that it is still a developmental state with roots coming from both the colonial and the apartheid periods. It is further argued in this chapter that this history continues to define and create constraints in controlling the direction of post-school education institutions even during the new democratic order in South Africa. Although there are decentralized tendencies to fund and manage higher education in South Africa, the neoliberalistic, neoconservative, and new managerialism affect the way the social justice agenda unfolds in higher education of that country.


Centralization Decentralization Neoliberalism Managerialism Capitalism Marketization Privatization Neoconservatism New managerialism Internationalization Globalization NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) Higher Education Policy Access and Success Social Justice 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education Dean’s OfficeUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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