AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Breaking down subtle and implicit racial divides in higher education institutions : an educational management perspective

by Mademoiselle Noluthando Toni

Institution: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Department: Faculty of Education
Degree: DEd
Year: 2009
Keywords: Racism in higher education  – South Africa  – Port Elizabeth; Educational change  – South Africa  – Port Elizabeth
Record ID: 1452577
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10948/876


This thesis examined the manifestations of the various forms of racism in a South African institution of higher learning, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). The study further attempted to confront racism from the perspective of finding ways in which human relations of a diversified higher education population could be improved. As the issue at hand in this study relates to racism, critical race theory (CRT) was explored in an attempt to understand different perceptions and ways of dealing with racial inequality. CRT recognizes the complexities of racism and the construction of race as a way of justifying political, economic and social inequality (Stovall, 2006:247). This understanding played a role in making sense of perceived racial discrimination which is also connected to gender, age and social class. CRT conceptual tools, such as stories and counter stories featured strongly in the data collection process. Understanding the relationships of power, race and racism, as advocated by CRT, was vital in the process of analyzing data, reporting on the findings, and the proposed recommendations. The empirical data and literature provided insight in the design of a ‘Wheel of Humanity’ which serves as a succinct portrayal of ideas that can work in nurturing acceptable, to better, human relations. The study revealed that Meta-stereotypes influenced the perceptions of racist attitudes, behaviours and practices. As much as overt forms of racism were reported as minimal, subtle and implicit forms still exist, and are aggravated by the ‘culture of power’ that is taken for granted. The success of initiatives designed for the purposes of going beyond race, and adopting a humane approach in instilling the principles of ubuntu, depends on changing attitudes and preconceived ideas