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Addressing inequalities in higher education: HE in South Africa

6th Nov 17

Addressing inequalities in higher education:  theoretical approaches

 and evidence from practice in South Africa

 Monday 6 November 2017 14.00-17.00pm

University of Birmingham School of Education (Room 524)

Higher education (HE) in South Africa in seen as playing a significant role in growing skills and a knowledge economy and contributing to social mobility. Yet South African HE is characterised by inequalities of access, participation and success. The transition from a racially segregated system has generated equity and quality challenges, especially affecting black students from disadvantaged rural and township backgrounds. In this seminar we present work from two different projects that seek to both investigate these challenges, and contribute to developing more equitable HE. The Miratho project (ESRC DfID funding) is working with the Thusanani Foundation, a South African youth-led organization, to understand how different factors interact in HE to inhibit or enable capabilities that are valuable to individuals and to building a decent society. The Translanguaging project (AHRC GCRF funding) focuses on the disadvantages faced by learners who do not speak English as a home language, in a context which privileges English throughout the educational journey, and responds to calls by educators in South Africa for a research and development agenda which gives students access to their full linguistic repertoires as resources for learning. In the seminar, we will discuss the approaches used by these projects and present outcomes from both studies.


Translanguaging: what it is, what it does, how it can be useful (Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham)

Capabilities theory: what it is, what it does, how it can be useful (Melanie Walker, University of the Free State, South Africa)

Translanguaging as a basis for pedagogical practices: debating practice in a South African workshop (Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham)

Epistemological and epistemic access to HE for rural and township youth (Monica McLean, University of Nottingham and Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham)

 For more information contact Ann-Marie Bathmaker ( or 


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