Original Research

Transmission and transformation in higher education: Indigenisation, internationalisation and transculturality

Kai Horsthemke
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 2 | a12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v2i0.12 | © 2017 Kai Horsthemke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2016 | Published: 24 April 2017

About the author(s)

Kai Horsthemke, Faculty of Philosophy and Systematics Pedagogics, Katholische Universitaet Eichstaett, Germany and Wits School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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There have been various approaches to the transmission and transformation of systems, practices, knowledge and concepts in higher education in recent decades, chief among which are drives towards indigenisation, on the one hand, and towards internationalisation, on the other. After briefly discussing and dispensing with radical versions of these, theories that reject any claim to validity or legitimacy by the rival approach, this article examines more nuanced accounts that deserve appropriately serious consideration. Thus, in the former instance, there is an emphasis on the local that nonetheless acknowledges a debt to the global, whereas conversely the emphasis on the global is seen as compatible with an acknowledgement of diversity, difference and particularity. What is gained and what is lost in these various approaches to educational transmission and transformation? After reflecting, in this regard, on lessons from both Africa and Europe – in particular, on the debates in South Africa around Africanisation and decolonisation, and in Germany around global interdependence – I cautiously endorse the idea of ‘transculturality’ (as contrasted with ‘multiculturality’ and ‘interculturality’) as a promising philosophical perspective on transmission of knowledge and practices, and as conceptualising transformation of higher education. The role of philosophy, in particular, consists in part in counteracting the hegemony of both traditional and homogenising (‘colonising’) authority.


Africanisation; indigenisation; interculturality; internationalisation; multiculturality; transculturality; transformation


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