About SASE

The history of SASE
The Southern African Society for Education (SASE) was founded by academics in faculties of education of the first three historically black (only African) universities of the east while apartheid South Africa way back in 1971. The main objective of this initiative was to create an academic forum for academics in these institutions from which they could debate academic and professional issues that impacted on them and their clientele and the South African educational agenda of the time. The institutions involved or founder members were:  the University of Fort Hare; the University of Zululand and the University of the North. The Society was originally named the South African Paedagogic Society (SAPS) reflecting the sentiment of the founder member institutions that preferred to refer to their field of study as Paedagogics rather than plain Education.
It should be noted that although these universities admitted only African student according to their ethnicity, the majority of academics working in them were white, and mainly of the Afrikaner origin.  This to some extent explains the allegiance to the European terminology rather than the Anglo-Saxon terminology in the field of education. The number of only African universities increased in the mid-seventies with the increase in the number of homelands and further fragmentation of African (black) people into even more closed ethnic groups.  This saw the opening of universities such as the University of Transkei (UNITRA), the University of Bophuthatshwana (UNIBO), University of Venda (UNIVEN) and the University of Qwaqwa (UNIQWA).
Some of the academics from the founder institutions transferred to these new institutions either to be closer to their homes or on promotion, and they introduced SAPS in their new institutions. The new universities, some of them now operating in independent homelands, recruited academics internationally and many of the recruits came from neighboring African countries, such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Ghana, Uganda Namibia and others. These new members brought in a new culture to the Society, and increased the number of African scholars.  It was time to revisit the constitution and name of the Society.  The number of Afrikaner academics (in only African universities) actively participating in the Society had, with the passing of time, become smaller, and the influence of what had come to be known as the Pretoria School had waned.  In the mid-eighties the Society was renamed the Southern African Society for Education (SASE) making it more inclusive and to lean more to the Anglo-Saxon tradition.
By this time the Society had expanded its membership to include academics in colleges of education, and senior education students were encouraged to be members of SASE.  At the same time, the membership had also been opened up to include academics from faculties other than faculties of education in recognition of the fact that all academics at university were in reality dealing and wheeling in the field of education.  After the 1994 elections, which, among other things, ushered in a new educational dispensation that brought along a new policy for higher education, South African education academic bodies began to exploring possibilities of merging with the hope of forming a unified voice for the South African Education community. Talks were held with other organizations of the time, and back-to-back conferences were held in the hope of finally bringing the organizations together and creating one strong education organization.  These attempts did not bear the envisaged fruits, but as far as SASE was concerned they did give the Society valuable exposure to affiliates of other organizations who later added SASE to the lists of the academic bodies they supported.  As a result SASE members now cut across the institutions of higher education in South Africa including academic
universities and universities of technology.
Reasons for the failure of efforts to merge the academic organizations could be attributed to the fact that all of them had in the past developed individual cultures that were difficult to melt into a new monoculture.  It soon became apparent that in a multicultural society that constituted the South African society, it was not feasible to create a culture-free academic body that was untainted with the legacies of its merged components. During the early nineties some of the ex-patriot academics from the neighboring African countries returned to their countries taking SASE with them to introduce in their new academic homes. The first annual conference of SASE to be held outside South African borders was held at the University of Namibia in 1995.  This trend was repeated in 1997 when the University of Swaziland hosted the SASE annual conference.  The 2003 conference was initially scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe; unfortunately this had to be rescheduled due to financial constraints in that country.
The 2005 annual conference will be held in Mozambique, and will be hosted by the Eduardo Mondlane University. These conferences attract participants from countries like Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Mozambique, and we can say SASE truly provides the platform for an academic discourse on educational issues that impact on the Southern African society.
What does SASE offer?
SASE is a non-profit organization that survives on conference fees from its members.  What it offers is a platform for a voice of Africa on educational matters affecting the Southern African region of the African continent.  In addition it provides a capacity building forum, where young and/or inexperienced researchers can present results of their work and get constructive feedback from both their peers and senior researchers. Many inexperienced researchers who presented their papers at some of SASE conferences have reworked those papers into articles that have been subsequently published by accredited journals nationally and internationally.  In the present climate of financial constraints in higher education (HE) institutions and the research drive being heightened more than ever before we believe SASE has a big role to play in building research capacity especially among young academics from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
For senior researchers and academics SASE also offers a needed platform for the nurturing of those under their mentorship.  Some professors indeed have used this platform, co-authoring and presenting papers with their masters
and doctoral students at SASE conferences. Whenever resources allow, SASE conference proceedings including abstracts and full papers (if submitted prior to the conference) are bound and made available to delegates at the conference. This provides delegates with some useful resource to which they can refer in their future academic writings in related areas. Bringing together academics from the Southern African region has the advantage of exposing them to a broader spectrum of educational issues and how the different countries address them.  It also encourages sharing of experiences, and makes academics more aware of educational systems of their neighboring countries.  This creates fertile ground for cross-border academic collaborations on common issues.
Compiled by:
NCG Vakalisa
President (Oct. 2004 –2005)
P. O. Box 2288, PRETORIA, 0001: e-mail: sangoni.m@doe.gov.za ; LekhotlaM@gpg.gov.za

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