Interrogating the public good versus private good dichotomy: 'black tax' as a higher education public good

SOURCE: Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2019
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.N.Fongwa
KEYWORDS: HIGHER EDUCATION, UBUNTU
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10973

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Abstract

The perceived dichotomy between public or private benefits to higher education remains of growing interest in higher education research and policy. In this paper, I borrow from the African philosophy of Ubuntu as a conceptual lens to interrogate this binary within the South African context using the black tax phenomenon. Gleaning secondary evidence from online sources, I posit that while black tax is being misused and abused by some beneficiaries, the experiences of majority of black professional graduates within their nuclear and extended families suggest a public good value of higher education beyond the suggested private benefit of earnings and social mobility. I argue using core components of Ubuntu that understanding the benefits of higher education in a context such as South Africa demands a nuance approach beyond the current dichotomy. I conclude that black tax blurs the lines and serves a public good function within a private good.