Access to learning resources in Post-apartheid South Africa



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Massachusetts Institute of Technology & International Development Research Centre


University of Cape Town

Any inquiry into how university students get the learning resources they need for their education in post-apartheid South Africa must deal with three interrelated subjects: the legacy of apartheid, which continues to structure educational opportunities in important ways more than twenty years after the first democratic election; the organization and increasingly radical transformation of the commercial publishing market, which has been the primary source of textbooks and other materials in the system; and— common to all of the chapters in this book—the mix of new-technology-enabled strategies through which students do their best to get the textbooks and other materials they need. We track three decades of tensions around these issues, as post-apartheid leaders struggle to reform an educational system originally designed primarily to control and oppress rather than educate the majority population. Because the old system had grown up around numerous (and often colonially grounded) accommodations of the global publishing business, international copyright law, and—most important—a structural disregard for whether the system worked in more than a minimal sense, the pressure for reform has produced tensions on all of these fronts.