Understand the challenges and successes of transforming education and explore its role in the rapidly changing social and political contexts of South Africa.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jul 6 ‎– Aug 15

Program Countries

South Africa

Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Education & Social Change

Education & Social Change Icon


Why study education in South Africa?

From the student uprisings against apartheid to contemporary campus life, educational institutions in South Africa have long been sites of social struggle and political organization, as well as centers of formal education. This was seen again in recent “Fees Must Fall” protests by university students nationwide. In this context, witness the vital role education has played in the development of a country. Visit classrooms in the cities of Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, and the majestic mountains of rural KwaZulu-Natal. Develop your professional skills during a weeklong practicum, and an educational transformation and leadership workshop. Stay with local families and witness the day-to-day challenges of their lives. Study the Zulu language and culture and interact with nongovernmental organizations, academics, and community leaders crafting education policy. As part of the program, you will integrate theory and practice with field research as you take excursions to key historic, natural, and cultural sites in both urban and rural settings, including the oldest game reserve in Africa, the sites of apartheid-era massacres and riots, and the Phoenix Settlement, home of the late Mohandas Gandhi.

Online and In Person

The program will begin with one week of online courses starting on July 6. During this week you will begin online orientation sessions to give you an understanding of South Africa’s politics and the history of education in South Africa. Using a virtual platform, you will explore the historical, political, and social context; pre-apartheid and Bantu education; popular uprisings; and the struggle against apartheid education.

In week two, you will travel to South Africa for the in-country portion of the program, where you will learn about competing South African historiographies and the (re)writing of histories; education and diversity; pedagogical shifts; and the challenges of developing a more participatory learning environment. In addition, you will learn about the recent “Fees Must Fall” protests by university students, tertiary education reform, and gender-based inequality in access to educational opportunities.

Toward the latter part of your in-country program, you will explore the relationship between education and development; formal, non-formal and informal education; and adult education and training.


  • Develop deep, multidimensional insights into education across South Africa.
  • Network with NGOs and public officials shaping policy, and attend lectures.
  • Explore Zulu culture and build basic Zulu language skills.
  • Observe lions, leopards, and elephants at the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve.




Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum, which opened in 2001, traces the rise and fall of apartheid. The exhibits will expose you to deep insights into South Africa’s history, and help you understand what it was like to live under apartheid.

Hector-Pieterson Museum, Johannesburg

Opened in 2002, the Hector Pieterson Museum memorializes 12-year-old Hector, shot on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto uprising that today symbolizes resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government. On the day Hector was killed, schoolchildren 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 police opened fire.

Luthuli Museum

Built in 1927, the Luthuli Museum encompasses the original home of Chief Albert Luthuli and is today a national monument. The grounds include landscaped gardens that provide an 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.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Tucked in the heart of Zululand, this is the only park under formal conservation in South Africa’s coastal KwaZulu Natal province, and the oldest game park in the nation. Established in 1895, along with the St. Lucia Reserve, it is historically where Zulu kings hunted and where the first conservation laws were put in place. Today, it is the oldest game reserve in Africa, home to the continent’s “Big Five”: lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinoceros. You may also see giraffes and zebras.

Cape Town

Compare and contrast educational approaches in the Cape Flats schools of Cape Town, and visit the center of lawmaking in South Africa to discuss educational policy with teachers, administrators, and activists in the Western Cape.

Other Sites

Other site trips may include the St. Lucia Reserve and Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park; the South Durban Basin, an education and environment project; and the South Coast, with fellow students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Inanda Seminary Environment and Language Education Trust, an education NGO; eTekwini Area-Based Management and various rural schools; and a Sharks rugby game.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Diverse perspectives on education in urban and rural contexts
  • Legacy of apartheid in the educational system and current challenges
  • Education policy and how education affects the country’s development
  • South Africa’s political system, crime rate, and overall condition
  • Issues of gender, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS in the context of education
  • Multicultural learning and the “demise” of outcomes-based education

Education and Social Change Seminar

Education and Social Change Seminar – syllabus
(IEDP3000 / 4 credits)

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

Education Practicum – syllabus
(PRAC3000 / 4 credits)

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.


There will be no homestays during the summer 2020 program. This precaution is being taken primarily to protect homestay families from students who may unwittingly spread Covid-19 due to international travel. Instead, students will stay at hostels, hotels and guesthouses.

Faculty & Staff

South Africa: Education and Social Change

Imraan Buccus, PhD Fellow
Academic Director
Shola Haricharan
Office Manager and Homestay Coordinator
Toni D’Amant, PhD
Practicum and Academic Coordinator
Janine Hicks
Monique Marks, PhD

Discover the Possibilities


    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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    SIT Study Abroad South Africa: Education and Social Change