South Africa

Education & Social Change

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



May 26 – Jul 7

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. 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.


  • Develop deep, multidimensional insights into education across South Africa.
  • Network with NGOs and public officials shaping policy, and attend lectures.
  • Explore Zulu language and culture while living with two homestay families.
  • 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. At least 20 children died.

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.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Articulate in oral and written forms contemporary issues of education and social change in South Africa. 
  • Analyze the ways in which South Africa’s historical trajectory has had an impact on inequality in education. 
  • Apply knowledge from field-based experiences to reflect on the relevance of lectures and readings. 
  • Assess the importance of a variety of viewpoints, institutions, and individuals with regard to the education system and its expected outcomes. 
  • Utilize methods needed to conduct field research in education and social sciences in South Africa. 
  • Develop practical insights into educational issues in South Africa through immersion in various experiences. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


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.


Urban Homestay: Cato Manor and/or Newlands

Live for a few weeks with a Zulu-speaking family in a vibrant, working-class township in Cato Manor, which has a rich history of African and Indian resistance and culture. Learn “survival” Zulu and see how communities initiate change from within.

In Newlands, stay with Coloured and Indian families of varied socioeconomic statuses. The area, designated “non-white” during apartheid, allows you to witness communities facing social challenges.

Rural Homestay: Amacambini

Experience rural life in a weeklong homestay in the lush, mountainous area of KwaZulu Natal, Amacambini, about 100 kilometers north of Durban. Gain a better understanding of the stark contrasts between rural and historically disadvantaged schools and the advantaged, predominantly white schools in South Africa’s urban areas. Amacambini’s conditions can be basic, with many households living without electricity, indoor plumbing, or piped water. Students usually are placed in pairs during the visit.

Faculty & Staff

South Africa: Education & Social Change

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

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    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 nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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