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ABSTRACT

South Africa's attainment of democracy in 1994 culminated in an educational reform anchored on an outcomes-based curriculum which was initially labelled Curriculum 2005 (C2005). The reform process and ensuing policy was rooted in labour movement debates and informed by the outcomes-based education (OBE) experiences in Australia and New Zealand. The policy was soon viewed by some as an anachronistic albatross, with built-in contradictions that would eventually lead to its demise. It lasted 12 years after surviving heated contestation from a wide academic and political spectrum. This essay review concentrates on Jonathan Jansen's critique and perspectives on OBE policy and its implementation in South Africa as articulated in his various writings between 1999 and 2009. His seminal “thesis” on why OBE would fail started a public debate that would attract other South African scholars into what would become one of the most important and captivating debates in the last decades of educational reform in developing countries. Jansen engages with issues of policy, knowledge, curriculum and pedagogy in a post-conflict society. He proposes what we can refer to as an epistemology of empathy that takes seriously the experiences of both the victims and the perpetrators of apartheid (including their descendants) and proposes a post-conflict “pedagogy of reconciliation.”