Decoloniality and “Model C” Schools: Ethos, Language and the Protests of 2016

Pam Christie, Carolyn McKinney


This article argues that theories of “decoloniality” provide valuable insights into the social relations of “Model C” schools that have been brought into visibility in particular ways by the wave of student protests during and after 2016. Our starting point is to provide a brief outline of the central arguments made by a particular strand of theorists who have developed the term “decoloniality.” We then look briefly at the history of “Model C” schools, locating their formation in the compromises of the negotiated settlement that characterised South Africa’s political transition in the 1990s. We look in particular at language policy and practices in these previously white schools and at the power relations of language in South Africa. In this account, we argue that “Model C” schools exemplify the entangled power matrix that characterises coloniality. “Model C” schools, we argue, provide a clear example of how deep historical inequalities persist well past the formal end of colonialism. Pressing this argument further, we outline some possible implications for changes in schooling that a decoloniality approach invites.  


decoloniality; language policy; “Model C” schools; student protests

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