Nelson Mandela Legacy Lecture


Prof Salim Vally

Mandela, Education and the Indignity of These Times

Event Details:

Date: 22 September 2022
Time: 17h00 – 18h30

Purpose of webinar:
The lecture will critically engage with Mandela’s celebrated statement that “education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world”. Without diminishing the importance of education, the lecture will argue
that it is but one strand (albeit a crucial one) in the tapestry of economic, political, social and ecological policies and
practices. Education itself is shaped by the economic and social structures of society and the agency of social forces
that constitute racialised, classed and gendered lives. In this crucible, education can reproduce extant social
relations and inequality or it can transform them.

The lecture will speak to the broader purposes of education linked to a rich tradition of praxis based on social
justice, decolonisation, transformation and democratic citizenship. It will provide concrete examples of ongoing
pedagogical struggles and will critically analyse local and global education policy and initiatives including the
Sustainable Development Goals and UNESCO’s Futures in Education projections. Simultaneously, it will critique
Human Capital Theory assumptions, simplistic ‘solutions’ related to technology and privatisation while laying the
basis for an alternative vision in which knowledge and appropriate skills are not perceived in purely instrumental
terms but as intrinsic and indispensable to the creation of an inclusive and transformed society demanded by these
urgent times.

The Speaker:
Prof Salim Vally is the director of the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation (CERT), the DHET-NRF SARChI Chair in Community, Adult and Workers’ Education (CAWE) in the Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg (UJ). He was a secondary school teacher and a trade unionist before joining the Wits Education Policy Unit in 1994. Prof Vally’s abiding interest is in linking academic scholarship with societal concerns, community participation and global solidarity. His most recent co-edited book is The University and Social Justice: Struggles Across the Globe (Pluto Press, 2020).