Original Research

Decolonisation of higher education: Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa

Savo Heleta
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 1, No 1 | a9 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v1i1.9 | © 2016 Savo Heleta | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2016 | Published: 25 October 2016

About the author(s)

Savo Heleta, Unit for Higher Education Internationalisation in the Developing World, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


Since the end of the oppressive and racist apartheid system in 1994, epistemologies and knowledge systems at most South African universities have not considerably changed; they remain rooted in colonial, apartheid and Western worldviews and epistemological traditions. The curriculum remains largely Eurocentric and continues to reinforce white and Western dominance and privilege. This article traces the roots of Eurocentrism and epistemic violence at universities. The author argues that South Africa must tackle and dismantle the epistemic violence and hegemony of Eurocentrism, completely rethink, reframe and reconstruct the curriculum and place South Africa, Southern Africa and Africa at the centre of teaching, learning and research. However, this will not be easy as opposition to change is entrenched in the university structures. The movement to radically transform and decolonise higher education must find ways to hold institutions accountable and maintain the non-violent and intellectual struggle until epistemic violence and Eurocentrism are dismantled.


higher education; education; decolonisation; epistemic violence; Eurocentrism; South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Epistemic Journeying across Abyssal Lines of Thinking: Towards Reclaiming Southern Voices
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