Freirean Utopian Didactic: A Retrospective View of Education in the South African Education Environment
Doniwen Pietersen
Sol Plaatje University, South Africa
Bernadictus Plaatjies
University of Freestate
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Utopian philosophy
South African education
Paulo Freire

How to Cite

Pietersen, D., & Plaatjies, B. (2023). Freirean Utopian Didactic: A Retrospective View of Education in the South African Education Environment. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 6(2), 123-137.


This study investigates how the utopian didactic in education can be achieved in South Africa. It is foregrounded by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s collective and forward-looking dreams about what education, in the shattered sense of the “now”, can look like if teachers and students participate democratically in the learning process. Education, in a general sense, is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills and habits are transferred and nurtured from one generation to the next. But, in the Freirean utopian didactic, education involves so much more than the mere transfer of knowledge. It is about transformation, both internal (the individual) and external (society). By allowing students to critically reflect and engage in honest dialogue with their teacher, education can lead to social injustices being challenged and, hence, being overcome. Freire’s utopian vision of education is one in which hope and imagination are celebrated in the quest for a better world. This vision is sorely lacking in South African educational environment today, which is still bruised by decades of inequality. Using a literature review, this conceptual article explored whether a Freirean utopian didactic can be applied to the current education system in South Africa and bring about the much-needed transformation. We have examined whether a utopian education can be considered a basic right in South Africa, according to the Constitution, and whether it can be applied more broadly to the African continent. For education to meet the needs of all learners in the education system, a utopian education system based on quality educational skills, values and equal distribution of resources is highly recommended.

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