Academy of Science of South Africa (2011) Consensus Study on the State of the Humanities in South Africa: Status, prospects and strategies

Academy of Science of South Africa (2011)

Consensus Study Report


The purpose of this study was to provide evidence-based advice on the status and future role of the Humanities in South Africa to government and other stakeholders (such as science councils, the department of education, universities) as a contribution towards improving the human condition. Everywhere, the Humanities is judged by many to be in “crisis.” The reasons for this, in South Africa, include the governmental emphasis on science and technology; the political emphasis on the economically-grounded idea of “developmentalism;” the shift of values among youth (and their parents) towards practical employment and financial gain; and the argument that the challenges faced by our society are so urgent and immediate that the reflective and critical modes of thinking favoured in the Humanities seem to be unaffordable luxuries. The Report provides invaluable detail about the challenges and opportunities associated with tapping the many pools of excellence that exist in the country. It should be used as a guideline for policymakers to do something concrete to improve the circumstances faced by the Humanities, not only in South Africa but also around the world. Amongst other recommendations, the Report calls for the establishment of a Council for the Humanities to advise government on how to improve the status and standing of the Humanities in South Africa. It also calls for initiation, through the leadership of the Department of Basic Education, considered measures to boost knowledge of and positive choices for the Humanities throughout the twelve years of schooling, including progressive ways of privileging the Arts, History and Languages in the school curriculum through Grade 12.