Fresher, here is your Free Education!
Black child, did you know that by your 3rd year of study you will develop an accent; you will feel like you belong in Sandton with people of class? Your village and your people ‘back home’ might appear like they were an accident in your life, whose primary duty was to propel you into greatness, into a world where whiteness is normalised?
But before we unpack what this phenomenon you are about to face is; allow me to welcome you to a world where your identity going forward is at a mercy of dominant cultures which you will be exposed to, most of which were normalised by the colonial project you might have heard of. If you do not know what ‘Colonialism’ is, do not worry you have arrived at a place where such words as “colonial”, “Decoloniality”, “whiteness”, “Identity”, “ epistemology” and many other serious words are dominant lessons you will receive outside the lecture room. In your stay here at varsity, you might in fact find yourself in the street with a board sign written “Decolonised Education for all or No education for everyone”. You might even see the assignment which might be due the following day as beneath your street dwelling habits for “freedom”.
Now, let’s unpack the phenomena introduced in the beginning of this piece. Freshman, there are three types of education you are going to receive in your stay in tertiary:
The first is contained in the Explicit Curriculum. This is the education you think you are here for. The one former president Zuma recently announced that it should be accessed for free. It is the same education which demands high APS scores and top levels to access. The knowledge from this education will be delivered in lecture rooms via Slides, Chalk and blackboard, vocally, via discussions and via laboratory works (also known as practical training). The content will be delivered by men and women who were qualified, by the same system which you are now part of, to gently mould you. The purpose of this education is to ‘uneducate’ you of that which you know as ‘reality’ and educate you to fit into the job market in the “real world”.
If you fail to absorb with least resistance this education as required, you become a “drop out”, a tittle of shame waiting to be pasted on any fish which couldn’t fly or any bird which couldn’t swim. If you succeed in absorbing the classroom content and achieve as you are expected, you are on your way to becoming a “Professional”, a badge of honour reserved for those who trim and whittle themselves to fit into a black gown, like batman. Except unlike batman you only get to fly across the graduation stage in 10 seconds. If you do it right, this explicit curriculum setup, you stand a chance to be revered by society at large. You will become the batman of your society.
The second type of education is contained in the Hidden Curriculum. This is the education which is not delivered in the lecture room, but it is in the environment of the institution. This education is invincible, yet it has strong psychological attrition over you. It comes in the name of a building, the dominant language used around you, an accent of a lecturer or the architectural style of the constructions works in your dwellings. Even racist comments from a lecturer or the presence of police vans and loaded guns on campus forms a critical part of this education.
As far as this education is concerned you have limited choices, it is either it changes you or you change it. Those who attempt to change it may end up in Jail, or may fail to be on par with the explicit curriculum. In rare cases, those who attempt to change the hidden curriculum occasionally change a name of a building from white to black; while the insides of the same building remains the colour of father Christmas’ beard. Those who allow to be changed by this hidden curriculum develop Buckingham palace accents and are generally not bothered by European hegemony over African spaces. In most cases, they are barely aware that they are becoming white – absorbed by foreign cultures. Those who attempt surviving this cultural genocide and identity mutations are those who keep an eagle eye on their associations and affiliations. They take the responsibility of their education outside the classroom by affiliating with the “right” societies, choosing to read the “right” books and associating with the right friends. Their ultimate aim for these groups is to get out of the institution as black as they came, if not blacker.
The Third and last form of education which will affect you is in the Null Curriculum. This is an education which is neither in the classroom nor in the environment. Call it the unknown curriculum. This is the education which exists but is side-lined by the current setup of higher education system, or doesn’t exist as yet, needs to be researched, brought forth and implemented into the explicit curriculum. An example of a null curriculum is an Afrocentric classroom in an African university with African students.
Welcome to tertiary Fresher, soon you won’t be a fresher anymore; you will be at the subjugation of the explicit, hidden and null curriculum. Whether you will aspire to run to Sandton upon your graduation, to detach from your people or to use your education to benefit your black society, it is up to your capacity to take the responsibility of your education. Do not leave the responsibility for your overall education in the hands of the institution which you are now affiliated with.