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Curriculum Change Working Group

The task of the CCWG was to explore curriculum change at UCT, including an exploration of alternative curriculum pathways, and to help shape strategies for engaging with academics and students through facilitated dialogues on critical curriculum transformation. Such exploration would include discussion and debate on pedagogic and assessment practices which are experienced as exclusionary, flexible learning pathways to ensure student success and retention, and the use of a wide range of linguistic, cultural and experiential resources which students and staff bring to the classroom. The outcome of the process would lead to a Curriculum Change Framework developed by the CCWG, recommending a detailed proposal for curriculum change as a fundamental contribution to building a new identity for UCT.

The work of the group has been captured extensively by the secretariat and is reported on in the CCWG meeting notes as well as in the curriculum change framework document which  is being produced. The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) at Hiddingh Campus has been an important and useful platform for examples of curriculum interventions to be shared. The CCWG participated in the 3rd Space Colloquium hosted by ICA in 2016 and 2017 to theorise, critique and exemplify practical curriculum innovations already taking place in the Arts across UCT. Innovations and interventions, focussed on a decolonised curriculum, are also evident in the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) proposals submitted recently by a range of academics across different faculties, who have been key participants and contributors in the engagements organised by the CCWG. The proposals for the Department of Higher Education & Training’s (DHET) call for submissions around decolonised education initiatives indicate the propensity of many academics to use this mechanism to embark on curriculum change in a structured and formal way.

The CCWG has also coordinated key activities to promote and support the engagement process, including hosting decolonial scholars such as Nelson Maldonado-Torres and C.K Raju. These scholars have engaged with various departments and students to deliberate on what a theory of change could mean in the UCT context. Further discussions with visiting scholars such as Gayatri Spivak, Ngugi wa Thiongo and Mahmood Mamdani have provided opportunities for the CCWG to clarify its understanding of curriculum change in relation to world renowned post-colonial or decolonial scholars in their respective fields and in the diaspora. The establishment of study circles, informed by Paulo Freire’s culture circles, enabled the development of a critical and collective (community) consciousness around issues of social and community transformation within a decolonial framework. The study circles served as a further level of engagement within the context of curriculum change to facilitate dialogue, generate knowledge around the relationship between curriculum change and decoloniality, as well as facilitate a process of curriculum work that allowed for an awareness of instances and practices of silencing, marginalising, oppressing, appropriating and violating [the Other], often taken for granted in the traditional social hierarchy between participants in the circles (and at the university). The major part of the CCWG work has been to finalise a framework document which presents a well-theorised and critically analysed account based on the CCWG’s participatory engagements on curriculum change across UCT. The framework document for curriculum change at UCT is in the process of critical review by members of the CCWG. The next steps will include consolidating and preparing the document for release to the vice-chancellor and the broader UCT community. Further, an executive summary will be produced to highlight overarching and underpinning tenets of the framework document.