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Comparative Education Literature

A Quick Survey of the South African Comparative Education Literature

Following this overview, the question is asked, appropriately, of how self-conscious the field is of itself. Importantly, it needs to be noted, the meta-analytic discussion of CE as a field is relatively well developed for South Africa but less so for the broader region. The field has been the object of study in South Africa since at least the early 1970s when scholars in the mainly Afrikaans Fundamental Pedagogics tradition, as was explained above, sought to locate Comparative Education within it (see Potgieter, 1972).

An early doctoral study by Wessels (1974), Doelstellings-problematiek van die Vergelykende Pedagogiek, moved the discussion somewhat to look at its relationship with debates in the broader field. Between 1974 and 1992 overviews of the field in general were included in publications by Wessels (1974), Stone (1981; 1984), Barnard (1981; 1984), Bondesio and Berkhout (1987; 1992), and Vos and Brits (1987; 1990). During the eighties and nineties at least five articles and papers dealing with some aspects of the academic field of Comparative Education in South Africa were produced, Ruperti (1970), Steinberg (1982; 1986), Herman (1986; 1993) and Pretorius (1992a). Ruperti reviewed the state of the field in South Africa in 1970. In 1982, the 'Interchange' section of the journal Perspectives in Education was devoted to what was taught in Comparative Education at the Universities of South Africa (Stone, 1982), Zululand (Vos, 1982), Cape Town (Steinberg, 1982), Natal (Michau, 1982), and the Research Unit for Education System Planning of the University of the Orange Free State (Vermaak, 1982).

In the late 1990s, a group of comparativists under the guidance of Anne-Marie Bergh and her colleagues at the University of South Africa, initiated a small research study looking at approaches to teaching in CE. In the new millennium, Bergh and Soudien (2006 and forthcoming) and Herman (2002) and Wolhuter, Herman and Weeks (forthcoming) have reviewed the field. An important comment to in closing this section is recognising the significant extent to which comparison is depended upon in recent policy work in formal arenas like the state Education Department and many state agencies. Intensive comparative studies are being undertaken in areas like education performance, systemic forms, approaches to funding and governance and so on.


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