Access to higher education in South Africa poses a number of
challenges. First, South Africa is said to be one of the most
unequal societies in the world, with an estimated Gini coefficient
that ranges between 0.63 and 0.69 (Human Sciences Research Council,
2014; Statistics South Africa, 2014). The wealth gap between the
countrys rich and the poorest of the poor is both growing and
getting worse. Second, UNISA is an open distance learning (ODL)
institution that seeks to intervene and manage the above challenges
by offering access to higher education opportunities to millions of
South Africans, the majority of whom are descendants of sections of
society that were denied opportunities to access higher education
by a myriad of institutionalised apartheid policies and legislation
which were racist and discriminative. With these concerns in mind,
the author compiled Open Distance Learning (ODL) Through the
Philosophy of Ubuntu, which is a sequel to the authors previous
publication, Open Distance Learning (ODL) in South Africa (Nova
Publishers: New Nork, 2015); it explores the potential for the
philosophy of Ubuntu to meaningfully shape UNISAs ability to
deliver its ODL mode of teaching and learning. The philosophy of
Ubuntu, which is also known as humaneness and/or human dignity, is
an African worldview or normative concept that encapsulates moral
values and principles such as kindness, generosity, compassion,
benevolence, respect for persons, care and concern for others, as
well as human dignity. The book draws on the philosophy of Ubuntu
as a guiding conceptual framework to explore ways in which UNISAs
vision of an African university in the service of humanity might be
meaningfully driven and realised. This collection of fourteen
chapters that constitute the book grapples with a wide range of
critical questions such as: How might embracing the philosophy of
Ubuntu impact UNISAs ability to meaningfully deliver a humane, open
distance education to its students in South Africa, on the African
continent, and on a global scale? How, for instance, would
grounding UNISAs curricular offerings in the philosophy of Ubuntu
turn the university into a uniquely African ODL institution? How
would embracing the values and principles of Ubuntu shape UNISAs
inclusive focus, research and innovative conceptual framework and
impertaives, ODL teaching and learning, assessment and quality
assurance, communication and public relations profile, among
others? Finally, Open Distance Learning (ODL) Through the
Philosophy of Ubuntu explores the plausibility of a radical change
of mindset from business as usual to business unusual by
re-imagining and recasting UNISAs ODL mission through the values
and principles of the philosophy of Ubuntu. The book is the second
offering of the planned trilogy of books on ODL in Southern Africa.
The final volume, Assuring Institutional Quality in Open Distance
Learning (ODL) in the Developing Contexts will complete this
thought process on ODL.
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