Original Research

Gazing at South African higher education transformation through the potential role of the Wesleyan quadrilateral: A theological approach

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Thabile A. Zondi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5782 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5782 | © 2020 Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Thabile A. Zondi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 August 2019 | Published: 14 October 2020

About the author(s)

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Curriculum and Education Studies, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pinetown, South Africa
Thabile A. Zondi, Geography Discipline, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pinetown, South Africa


The 2015–2016 South African higher education student movements evoked critical conversations regarding the extent to which institutions of higher learning have transformed into democratic and inclusive spaces. One of the key gaps in this field is the paucity of research that explores the potential role of theology in steering the direction of transformation in South African higher education system. Through a Wesleyan approach, the paper argues that the four quadrilaterals of the Wesleyn approach, scripture, tradition, reason and experience will be used as a theological tool to weight beliefs in the levels of dogma and doctrine, opinion and so as not to confuse critical reflection with negativity and judgmentalism in critically reflecting on the South African higher education struggles for transformation and decolonization. In our attempt to contribute meaningfully to the broader debates, started by scholars such as Nadar and Reddy (2015) and more recently, Phiri and Nadar (2018), who locate their work in theology to think through gender, curriculum and African feminism differently, counter-hegemonically. In this paper, we aim to contribute to this emerging body of work by arguing that theology has a critical role to play in helping us to imagine what a transformed, inclusive and socially just higher education could look like.


South African higher education; Wesleyan quadrilateral; theology; transformation; decolonisation; social justice; student movements


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