Education for public good in the age of coloniality

Implications for pedagogy


  • Emmanuel M. Mgqwashu Rhodes University


education for public good, coloniality, transmission of curriculum content, education for common good, Reading to Learn Pedagogy, literacies for curriculum acquisition


This paper critically reviews the theoretical foundations of the concept ‘education for public good’, revealing its analytical and practical limitations, inadequacies and detrimental effects in South Africa. The paper shows how an uncritical embracing of this concept in the education discourse continues to undermine hard-earned democratic gains. Coloniality, I argue, continues to ‘devour’ all well-intentioned postcolonial/post-apartheid educational policies. A truly decolonial project has the power to dismantle pedagogical practices and classroom traditions that evolved in the west to favour the elite while marginalising the majority. An alternative to education for public good is thus presented: education for common good. The Reading to Learn pedagogy is presented as an ‘offspring’
of the ‘education for common good’ concept. I highlight how this position engenders classroom practices that create conditions for epistemological access to success for all learners, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Author Biography

Emmanuel M. Mgqwashu, Rhodes University

Emmanuel Mfanafuthi Mgqwashu was born and raised in Mpumalanga Township, Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal. He began his academic career in 1996 as a Graduate Assistant in the English Department, University of Durban-Westville. He became a permanent member of the academic staff in the English Department, University of Natal, in 2000. He has served in different leadership and management roles at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is currently an Associate Professor of Language Education and Literacies Development and Head of the Education Department at Rhodes University. His PhD topic was ‘English Studies and Language Teaching: Epistemological Access and Discursive Critique in South Africa’ (2006). His research interests are in language
education, teaching and learning in higher education, English literatures, academic literacies and language planning.







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