This conceptual article explores the profound impact of techno-rationalism on educational law in Southern African universities. It also examines the influence of techno-rationalism on equity, social justice and academic freedom within higher education in the digital era. The article critically analyses the reshaping of educational law in Southern Africa by considering technological advancements, economic forces, affective factors and socio-cultural dynamics. It aims to investigate whether the implementation of techno-rationalist discourses hinders social justice aspirations in universities. Additionally, the article explores how pervasive neoliberalism and market-driven logic are at universities, questioning whether these practices overshadow the institution’s core objectives and commitment to social justice. The article envisions possibilities for reconceptualising the university in the era of techno-rationalism through the critical pedagogy theory. This theory is relevant to this work because it promotes an emancipatory theoretical framework that challenges learning environments, especially higher education institutions, where people might be politically, socially and economically disempowered. It also calls for a holistic approach to knowledge, curriculum and pedagogy that recognises the university’s embeddedness in a broader ecological and socio-cultural context. Through this exploration, the article contributes to the scholarly discourse on the decolonisation of universities and seeks to inspire new lines of enquiry addressing inequality and the pursuit of social justice in Southern African higher education institutions.
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