Original Research

Decolonising the Criminology curriculum in South Africa: Views and experiences of lecturers and postgraduate students

Lufuno Sadiki, Francois Steyn
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 7 | a150 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v7i0.150 | © 2022 Lufuno Sadiki, Francois Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2021 | Published: 27 January 2022

About the author(s)

Lufuno Sadiki, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Francois Steyn, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: For many years, the lived experiences, knowledge systems and histories of previously colonised people have been misinterpreted, removed and devalued in university teaching. The present curricula of African universities are predominantly Eurocentric and Criminology is no exception. In the wake of the #RhodesMustFall student protest action, there is a recognition and need to include African epistemology within the discipline of Criminology.

Aim: The study investigated the views of lecturers and postgraduate students regarding the content, transformation and decolonisation of Criminology curricula.

Setting: South African universities offering Criminology as a degree and/or academic subject.

Methods: A total of 87 respondents, 42 lecturers and 45 postgraduate students, voluntarily participated in an online survey. Lecturers were purposively selected whilst postgraduate students were recruited via snowball sampling.

Results: Nearly all the respondents had heard of decolonisation before, with the majority of the academic staff members being aware of it prior to #RhodesMustFall. Respondents agreed that the Criminology curriculum needs to be decolonised, with statistically significant differences emanating between black lecturers and white lecturers.

Conclusion: Decolonisation and transformation have been debated for many years without meaningful translation in and changes to Criminology curricula.


Criminology; curriculum; transformation; decolonisation; teaching and learning


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