Digital equity and social justice: Whose reality? Reflections from South Africa

Whose reality? Reflections from South Africa


  • Jeanette Botha



policy, context, quality, social justice, digital equity, developing world


In this paper, the notion of social justice is premised on access to quality, affordable education and digital equity is understood as a leveller of society, a key stimulus for socio-economic growth and development, and a prerequisite for social justice. The ongoing global impetus towards increased digital access and the incremental uptake of ICTs into the traditional higher education space is not only reshaping our understanding of education globally, but it is also evidencing, through research and the benefits of time, a more sober and realistic portrayal of the affordances of digital access and technology in higher education. The emerging picture paints a cautionary tale, particularly in regard to the lived reality of digital equity and social justice in the developing world context. This paper takes the form of an exploratory study of limited scope, of the challenges around digital equity and social justice in distance education, from a developing world perspective. A counter narrative to the prevailing voices and hegemonies is offered to trouble some of the assumptions in dominant discourses, as motivation for a more realistic, contextualized and equitable appraisal of digital equity and social justice. The University of South Africa is used as a point of reference, given its status as the single dedicated comprehensive distance education institution in South and Southern Africa, the largest on the African continent and one of the world's mega institutions. 






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