How Do Students Pull Themselves Up by Their Bootstraps When They Have No Shoes? A Perspective on the Function of Meritocracy at South African Tertiary Institutions During Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning
The post-apartheid era in South Africa has been characterised by increased access to higher education. A dominant expectation by those within these institutions, who claim to be upholding the university’s academic standards, is that previously excluded students must use their own agency to ensure their academic success. This bootstrapping approach transfers responsibility for academic progression and success to students, absolving institutional stakeholders from addressing structural, curricular and transformational issues that affect student success. Moreover, bootstrapping as agent of student success pays insufficient attention to the social systemic factors impeding the progress of students. The aim of this discussion is to illustrate how the context of emergency remote teaching and learning within the Covid-19 pandemic has accented the expectation that student merit alone will guarantee participation and success in academia. This article further challenges this meritocracy myth as myopic and offers a contextual analysis on how student agency alone cannot ensure student success. Finally, this article will outline how more involved engagement with structural and systemic action is needed by higher education institutions in South Africa.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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