Original Research

Beyond COVID-19: Teaching and learning lessons for the next pandemic through Ubuntu currere

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Amanda Mbatha
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 9 | a299 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v9i0.299 | © 2024 Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Amanda Mbatha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2023 | Published: 02 March 2024

About the author(s)

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Amanda Mbatha, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


The emergence of the teaching an pandemic was a fundamentally disruptive force in the global higher education system that called on us to re-think the very purposes of higher education, our values, and who the academy is inherently for. Largely driven by the then panic over the unpredictable and infectious nature of the COVID-19 disease, higher education institutions had to close down and find virtual, Online and/or digital ways of continuing the teaching and learning programme. In this article, we firstly explore and theorise academics’ experiences of the emergency remote teaching and the complex challenges that they had to negotiate during this crisis in higher education. We reveal the complex, challenging and depressing experiences that they navigated as they grappled with the emergency remote teaching in their context, and the effect this had on their well-being. We propose the idea of Ubuntu currere as an emancipatory pedagogy, necessary to helping us respond to the next pandemic in the higher education sector. We suggest that our response to the next pandemic(s) needs to be anchored in decolonial and social justice frameworks, necessary for rethinking teaching and learning during a crisis.

Contribution: In this article, our contribution is twofold. We firstly contribute to the emerging body of research that shines a spotlight on academics’ experiences, voices and/or narratives in grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic in their teaching and learning contexts. Secondly, we propose the idea of Ubuntu currere (i.e. Ubuntu curriculum) as offering us useful emancipatory lessons in responding to the future pandemics in higher education.


emergency remote teaching; higher education; teaching and learning; Ubuntu currere; COVID-19

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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