Be­yond the

Leigh-Ann Naidoo, an ed­u­ca­tion­al­ist and ac­tivist based in the School of Ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, un­packs the “hid­den cur­ricu­lum” our stu­dents are learn­ing

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Stu­dents across the coun­try’s cam­puses have asked why cur­ric­ula have re­mained Euro­cen­tric, even though we’re in post-apartheid SA. Why have the cur­ric­ula, or the con­tent of what we teach, re­mained fo­cused on Euro­pean cul­ture and his­tory? Be­sides what the ac­tual con­tent states and fo­cuses on, or the ex­plicit lessons be­ing taught through a cur­ricu­lum, there are im­plicit lessons be­ing learnt. In the study of ed­u­ca­tion, we talk about the “hid­den cur­ricu­lum” when we want to ex­plore the idea that more’s be­ing taught and learnt than the planned con­tent of a course or pro­gramme. Think­ing crit­i­cally in­side and out­side the class­room re­quires us to look for the mes­sages or lessons that are be­ing com­mu­ni­cated, es­pe­cially those that aren’t ex­plic­itly part of the cur­ricu­lum.

For a long time, ed­u­ca­tion and the best jobs were re­served for people of Euro­pean de­scent. This taught us that whites were best suited to study and hold highly skilled jobs, while blacks (in­clud­ing all the aparthei­d­cre­ated cat­e­gories) were not and were there­fore lim­ited to low-skilled, low-paid work. We were taught un­der apartheid and colo­nial­ism to be­lieve ev­ery­thing we read, es­pe­cially in text­books, which meant that the con­ti­nent’s his­tory and cul­ture were


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