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Open Textbooks and Social Justice: Open Educational Practices to Address Economic, Cultural and Political Injustice at the University of Cape Town
Cox, Glenda · Masuku, Bianca · Willmers, Michelle

Published11 May 2020
JournalJournal of Interactive Media in Education
Volume 2020, Issue 1, Pages 2
CountrySouth Africa, Africa

There is currently a clarion call to address social injustice in South African higher education (HE) in order to achieve greater equity in access. Within this context, current social injustices pertain to financial exclusion as well as epistemic marginalisation and are embodied in the predominance of expensive textbooks which are authored in the Global North, meaning that they are unaffordable for many students and do not represent local realities.

This paper provides evidence from the Digital Open Textbooks for Development (DOT4D) project at the University of Cape Town (UCT), on the potential of open textbooks to address social injustice in South African HE and the practices utilised by UCT staff to address these challenges.

The paper uses Nancy Fraser's (2005) trivalent lens to examine inequality, specifically as relates to the following dimensions: economic (maldistribution of resources); cultural (misrecognition of culture and identities); and political (misrepresentation or exclusion of voice). This enables the authors to critically analyse the UCT context and the extent to which open textbook production as well as open education practices within the classroom promote social justice through "parity of participation".

The findings presented demonstrate that open textbooks have the potential to disrupt histories of exclusion in South African HE institutions by addressing issues of cost and marginalisation through the creation of affordable, contextually-relevant learning resources. In addition to this, they provide affordances which enable lecturers to change the way they teach, include student voices and create innovative pedagogical strategies.

Keywords open textbooks · pedagogy · social justice

RightsCC BY
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