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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

versão On-line ISSN 2520-9868
versão impressa ISSN 0259-479X


FATAAR, Aslam. The emergence of an education policy dispositif in South Africa: An analysis of educational discourses associated with the fourth industrial revolution. Journal of Education [online]. 2020, n.80, pp.5-24. ISSN 2520-9868.

The notion of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has recently entered the public and policy domain in South Africa. It has rapidly found resonance in policy discourse and the popular media. It has also entered the language of educational policy and institutions. The impact of 4IR on educational thinking and practice has hitherto not featured in academic discussion on education in South Africa except for a keynote plenary session at the annual conference of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) in Durban (October 2019). The South African Education Deans Forum recently published a call for the submission of chapters for a book on teacher education, 4IR, and decolonisation. In this article, I develop an address that I delivered at the SAERA 2019 conference as part of the plenary panel. The article consists of four sections. The first offers a consideration of the entry of 4IR discourse into the educational imaginary. I suggest in this section that 4IR discourse has installed a socio-technical imaginary in South Africa's unequal educational dispensation. The second section concentrates on the construction of educational governance. Based on research on 4IR-related policy making, I discuss the policy directions taken by the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Basic Education in giving effect to ways of engaging with 4IR in each of their domains. The third section features a discussion of the impact of technological disruption on society, the economy and education. The final section presents a discussion of the emerging educational architectures in the 4IR and a critical consideration of the curriculum and pedagogical dimensions of 4IR, which, I argue, are informed by an orientation that prioritises the acquisition of generic skills. Sidelining knowledge and concepts as central to the structuring of the curriculum, a generic skills approach succumbs to what might be called a knowledge blindness that holds pernicious consequences for epistemic access in South Africa.

Palavras-chave : fourth industrial revolution; education in South Africa; policy dispositif; educational governance; genericism.

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