South Africa | Summer Abroad | Durban | Practicum | Education | Policy

South Africa: Education and Social Change (Summer)

Examine the challenges and successes of educational transformation and explore the role of education in a changing South Africa through theory, field study, and practice.

This program examines the role of education in South Africa in the context of the country’s historical cir­cumstances, contemporary public policy, and social and economic development. Students typically spend time at primary and secondary schools as well as adult educational centers in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal. Excursion and homestays provide students with the opportunity to compare educational approaches in different locations within the country.

Major topics of study include:

  • The ways in which educational institutions re­flect difference — and differential access — in South Africa
  • Education policy and the role of education in South Africa’s development
  • Diverse and differing perspectives on education issues in South Africa
  • The legacy of apartheid in South Africa’s educational system
  • Educational approaches within South Africa

Develop a better understanding and appreciation of education policy and the role of education in South Africa’s development.

Women marching in South AfricaClassroom lectures and discussions are combined with field study assignments, as well as visits to schools, NGOs, local communities, and government offices. Educational excursions and regular processing sessions give students multisided and holistic exposure to and consideration of education issues in South Africa.

Because the coursework in this program is based on an experiential education model in which students learn by doing, program participants are exposed to a variety of perspectives and realities. Students travel often, meet local education professionals, students, and families, and broaden their theoretical knowledge.

Lectures, discussions, and workshops typically include the following topics:
  • South Africa’s political system
  • Crime in South Africa: Current status and future challenges
  • State of the nation: Where is South Africa headed — development or decline?
  • Education in South Africa: Historical legacy and contemporary challenges
  • Education and development
  • Educational issues in urban and rural areas
  • Education, gender, and sexuality in South African education
  • The “demise” of Outcomes-Based Education
  • Multicultural education
  • Non-Formal Education (ABET) and Further Education and Training (FET)
  • HIV/AIDS education, life-skills training, and the Love Life Project
  • Skills development and human resource training
  • The transformation of tertiary education
  • Field study methods in education
  • Introduction to Zulu language and culture

Education Practicum: Integrating Theory and Practice

Students have many opportunities to observe the education system while in this program. During the education practicum, students are encouraged to integrate theory and practice and to develop the field skills needed to analyze what they observe. Students typically have the chance to spend time at primary schools, secondary schools, and adult formal and informal educational institutions, as well as other sites, such as NGO and government offices. 

One such site visit is to a government nerve center, where students can observe the complex nature of government management of education in the province of KwaZulu Natal.

Access Virtual Library Guide

This interdisciplinary program examines education in South Africa in historical and contemporary contexts, offering students a multi-sided and holistic perspective on educational issues in South Africa. Students develop an appreciation and understanding of the historical context of education in South Africa, contemporary education policy, and the role of education in the country’s development.

The program’s field-based components provide students with practical insights into educational issues in South Africa.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Education and Social Change Seminar – syllabus
(IEDP3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
An examination of education in South Africa in the context of historical circumstances, contemporary public policy, and social and economic development. Lectures and discussions combine with field study, visits to schools, NGOs, local communities, and government offices.
Education Practicum – syllabus
(PRAC3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
A firsthand examination of educational issues through practicum experiences in both rural and urban KwaZulu-Natal. The Zululand rural homestay period includes a one-week practicum and observation of nearby educational institutions. Urban practicum experiences in Durban may include participation in a weekend youth camp, where students will serve as camp counselors.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement.In addition to visiting and completing a practicum at primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and adult training and educational centers in urban and rural South Africa, students may have the opportunity to visit the following sites: 

  • Hector Pieterson Museum, Johannesburg
    The Hector Pieterson Museum opened in Soweto in 2002, not far from the spot where 12 -year-old Hector was shot on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto uprising that today is a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government. On the day Hector was killed, schoolchildren had gathered to protest the imposition of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in township schools. They were singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa, now South Africa’s national anthem) when the authorities approached, and before the children could disperse, the police opened fire. At least 20 children died in the ensuing pandemonium.
  • Apartheid Museum
    The Apartheid Museum, which opened in 2001, presents exhibits that trace the rise and fall of apartheid. The exhibits are fundamental to students’ understanding of South Africa’s history and enable them to experience what it was really like to live under apartheid. 
  • Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement
  • City Walk 
  • The South Coast, with University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) education students
  • Centre for Civil Society and UKZN campus walk
  • Inanda Seminary
  • Luthuli Museum
    The Luthuli Museum was officially opened on August 21, 2004. It includes the original home of Chief Albert Luthuli at 3233 Nokukhanya Luthuli Street, Groutville, KwaDukuza. Built in1927, the home today is a national monument. The grounds include lovely landscaped gardens that provide the ideal setting in which to absorb the history and achievements of the man who was the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace. He was a leader ahead of his time, whose commitment to nonviolence, non-racialism, democracy, and human rights left an enduring legacy.
  • Environment and Language Education Trust (ELET), an education NGO 
  • eTekwini Area-Based Management and visits to various rural schools
  • South Durban Basin, an education and environment project
  • St. Lucia 
  • Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve
    The Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is the only park under formal conservation in KwaZulu Natal. Established in 1895 in the heart of Zululand (along with nearby St. Lucia Reserve), this is the oldest game park in South Africa and the oldest game reserve in Africa. It is where Zulu kings such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted, and also put in place the first conservation laws. Today, Africa’s “Big Five” (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros) stalk the flourishing savannah. Game viewing is the principal attraction in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. Viewing hides that overlook pans and waterholes enable one to observe the wildlife at close range.
  • Cape Town
    The concluding excursion to Cape Town provides students with the opportunity to compare educational approaches in Cape Flats schools, to visit the center of lawmaking in South Africa, and to discuss educational policy with teachers, administrators, and activists in the Western Cape.
  • Sharks rugby game

Imraan BuccusImraan Buccus, Academic Director

Mr. Buccus has an undergraduate degree in education and a master’s degree in social policy from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. He is currently a PhD research fellow in development studies at Radboud Nijmegen University in the Netherlands. In addition, he is research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is the academic director for SIT’s South Africa: Social and Political Transformation semester program based in Durban. Mr. Buccus has worked as academic coordinator of the Workers College, a progressive experiential education college for workers from the trade union movement, where he developed a passion for experiential education and its personal and academic developmental potential. He was also research manager at the Centre for Public Participation, an NGO focused on participatory democracy in post-apartheid South Africa. He is currently also a columnist for Durban’s popular morning paper, The Mercury. Mr. Buccus has traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and was previously the academic director for SIT Study Abroad’s South Africa: Globalization, Sports, and Development summer program.

Dr. Toni D’Amant, Practicum and Academic Coordinator

Dr. Toni D’Amant has a Ph.D. in education and is a senior lecturer at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in the School of Education and Development. Her lectures and research fall into the areas of teaching for diversity, inclusion and social justice, the sociology of education, and educational psychology. Dr. D’Amant has worked extensively in rural areas across four provinces in South Africa as part of her involvement with the teacher development components of various interventions and pilot projects (funded by DANIDA, GTZ, CSATDP, SANPAD, University of Natal and DoE — national and provincial). She has been involved with an ongoing SIT rural community engagement initiative since 2008, for which she is responsible for the planning and implementation of student training program for both SIT and UKZN students. In her capacity as practicum and academic coordinator for the SIT summer education program, she works alongside students in a practical and supportive way to help them better understand developmental dynamics in rural areas of South Africa. 

Shola Haricharan, Office Manager and Homestay Coordinator

Shola has been with the program in various capacities since its inception in 1992. Prior to that, Shola worked in administrative capacities with a number of nongovernmental groups, some of which were active in the anti-apartheid struggle. 

Lecturers for this program include the following faculty from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and other institutions:

Monique Marks, PhD, Professor of Sociology, UKZN

Monique Marks is based in the Community Development Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is also a research associate of the Centre of Criminology at the University of Cape Town. She has published widely in the areas of youth social movements, ethnographic research methods, police labor relations, police organizational change, and security governance. She has published three books: Young Warriors: Youth Identity, Politics and Violence in South Africa; Transforming the Robocops: Changing Police in South Africa; and Police Occupational Culture: New Debates and Directions (edited with Anne-Marie Singh). Dr. Marks has written extensively about crime and security issues in South Africa. 

Janine Hicks, Commission on Gender Equality

Janine Hicks is a senior commissioner with South Africa’s Commission on Gender Equality. She has more than two decades of experience working with South African civil society and educational institutions, and is widely published in the areas of participatory democracy, gender issues, and issues around access to education for women in South Africa.

Michael Sutcliffe, PhD

Michael Sutcliffe is Durban’s former city manager. He speaks about the experience of having hosted the Soccer World Cup. He has a PhD from Ohio State University in city planning and was the chairperson of South Africa’s Demarcation Board in the post-apartheid order. Dr. Sutcliffe played a significant role in the country’s anti-apartheid struggle and is widely recognized as an influential member of the African National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa.

Students on this program typically experience two homestays: two to three weeks in an urban area and a one-week rural homestay.

Cato Manor.Urban Homestay

Depending on the year, the urban homestay takes place in either Cato Manor and/or Newlands. 

In Cato Manor, students live with Zulu-speaking host families in a working-class township, where they learn “survival” Zulu and also gain an appreciation for the richness and challenges of township life. 

Cato Manor has a rich history of African and Indian resistance and culture. The area is famous for the race riots in 1949 and the beer hall riots of 1959, which resulted in the area being declared for “whites only.” The community was destroyed, houses were torn down, and residents relocated to other areas. The land remained vacant—save a scattering of churches, mosques, and Hindu temples—until near the end of the apartheid period, when African and Indian families began to move back to Cato Manor to reclaim their land. Acknowledging the need to redress the wrongs of the past, the post-1994 government designated Cato Manor a lead urban development project and built low-cost housing, a heritage center, schools, libraries, community centers, and clinics. 

The homestay in Newlands is with Coloured and Indian families. The area, which is home to Coloured and Indian families of differing socioeconomic status, was created as a “non-white” area during apartheid. The area has its own rich cultural dynamic and offers an experience markedly different from that in Cato Manor.

The urban homestay gives students the opportunity to gain an appreciation for life in an area facing a number of social challenges. Students witness how their host communities manage to maintain a strong and vibrant civil society and work diligently to initiate change from within.

Amacambini.Rural Homestay in Amacambini

Students also have a short homestay in a rural area of KwaZulu Natal, Amacambini, located approximately 100 kilometers north of Durban. Students are usually placed with host families in pairs. 

In Amacambini, students experience rural life and gain practical experience working at and observing educational efforts in a “winter school” for secondary school students. Students observe the stark contrasts between these rural and historically disadvantaged schools and the advantaged, predominantly white schools in South Africa’s urban areas.

Conditions in Amacambini are basic, and students find a marked difference between households; many do not have electricity, indoor plumbing, or piped water. 

The area of Amacambini is currently under the leadership of Nkosi Mataba, and the land is held in trust for the community by a traditional authority. Formal employment rates are low and livelihoods in aMacambini revolve around small-scale agriculture and remittances from family members living in nearby cities. 

The Amacambini area has recently been earmarked for a multibillion rand development project that would see thousands of families removed from their ancestral lands. The planned development initiative is for AmaZulu, a Disneyland-style African theme park. Members of the community have taken a strong stand over their right to determine any development that occurs on their land. 

Program Dates: Summer 2017

Program Arrival Date:  May 26, 2017

Program Departure Date:    Jul 7, 2017

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Apr 1, 2017

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $7,350

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who instruct students in:
    • The role of education in South Africa in the context of the country’s historical circumstances, contemporary public policy, and social and economic development
    • Social, cultural, and political aspects of the region
    • Field methods in education
  • The education practicum and visits to primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and adult training and educational centers in urban and rural South Africa
  • All educational excursions to locations such as the Hector Pieterson, Apartheid, and Luthuli museums; the South Coast; Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve; eTekwini Area-Based Management; Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement; Grahamstown Arts FestivalHealth insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $1,425

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period.
  • All homestays (two to three weeks in an urban homestay in Cato Manor or Newlands, and one week in a rural stay in Amacambini)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad, directly or through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 100

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


Tap to display sub-menu choices,
press & hold to open topic in new page.


SIT, 1 Kipling Road, PO Box 676, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0676
802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US), Fax: 802 258-3296 

SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Accreditation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Copyright 2016. World Learning. All rights reserved.

Back to top