South Africa’s Comorbidity: A Chronic Affliction of Intersecting Education, Economic and Health Inequalities
Keywords:COVID-19, neoliberalism, precariat, education
The analogy of South Africa as an ailing “organism” afflicted by chronic socio-economic inequality is apt as it captures the nation’s manifest endemic abrasions and frailties, especially as it relates to the lived experience of its most vulnerable citizens (the precariat). COVID-19 has accentuated the plight of the poor, yet political rhetoric professes that the pandemic does not discriminate. In this article I offer an analysis of the intricate relationship between politics, economics, and education in the South African context. I argue that these are indeed complexly connected social “phenomena” that have particular variant manifestations and implications for South African citizens. While I recognise that health is also implicated in this matrix, it is beyond the scope of this article to examine this crucial social provision in any detail. I contend that in attempting to understand how COVID-19 impacts South African society, it is important to firstly analyse the prevailing (pre-COVID) status quo, especially as it relates to socio-economic inequality, as the effects of the pandemic impact the lived experience of people on the indigent-affluent continuum in starkly distinct ways. The pandemic has brought into sharp purview the accentuated nature of human adversity in the South African context and the social justice peculiarities plaguing South African society. Methodologically, I attempt a Foucauldian analysis of the contemporary political-economy-education matrix to reveal how fundamental neoliberal tenets have fashioned South African society and its education system into a dualism in which poverty and affluence co-exist. I attempt to move beyond constructions of deprivation, strife and adversity to reflect on resistance and the resilience (technologies of the self) that human beings summon in the face of crisis. Secondly, I examine the impact of the pandemic at localised school level to reveal its material effects on poor schools.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Suriamurthee Maistry
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