Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture by Jonathan Jansen: The unmasking of South African politics and education in the wake of COVID-19

White Public Schooling/Black Public Schooling. Photos: Anthon Kustner & Leisa Tyler.


This lecture will take place online. Registrees will receive a link a few days before the lecture. 

It was Stephen Ellis who argued that one of the tasks of the historians of contemporary Africa is 'throwing new light on Africa’s more remote past and as a way of understanding the present.' In his two books on South Africa, Comrades against apartheid (1992) and The ANC in exile (2012), this is exactly what Stephen Ellis does: to provide a solid foundation of historical scholarship from which it is possible to read and understand the pandemic of corruption within the post-apartheid government. Nowhere is this history more starkly reflected than in the massively unequal education impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic which will have devastating consequences for generations to come. How did this happen? What are the roots of these inequalities? What can we learn from past political actions that explain unequal education outcomes in the present? In short, what does Stephen Ellis allow us to see in education across the murky waters of South Africa’s political past?


Jonathan Jansen is Distinguished Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University and President of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He is a curriculum theorist, and his research is concerned with the politics of knowledge. His 2019/2020 books (co-authored, co-edited) include South African Schooling: The enigma of inequality, Fault lines: a primer on race, science and society, Who gets in and why: the politics of admission in South Africa’s elite schools, Learning under lockdown: voices of South Africa’s children, and Learning Lessons. His current research includes a national study on the impact of the pandemic on the academic work of women scholars. He holds a PhD (Stanford) and five honorary degrees in education.

Date, time and location

26 November 2020
18.00 - 20.00
Online event