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Post-apartheid Education and Building ‘Unity in Diversity’: Voices of South African youth

FLEETWOOD, TAMLYNN (2012) Post-apartheid Education and Building ‘Unity in Diversity’: Voices of South African youth. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The challenges facing nation-building and overcoming the legacy of apartheid in South Africa are immense. This thesis examines the crucial role of education in this effort. Drawing primarily on the perspectives of secondary school learners through Participatory Research (PR), this study explores the role of education in providing young people with productive spaces in which they can strengthen national unity. The research makes four key contributions. Firstly, it engages directly with the generation born after 1994, whose attitudes have yet to be adequately reflected in understanding nation- building in South Africa. Secondly, it contributes to a growing body of literature highlighting ‘best practice’ in integrating post-apartheid schools. Thirdly, it offers critical insight into the function of the Life Orientation (LO) curriculum in citizenship education and nation-building. Finally, it decentres and challenges the western emphasis of geographies of education literatures. Drawing on the concept of ‘race trouble’, the results reveal the extent to which the spectre of race, rooted in the apartheid past, continues to haunt the lives, subjectivities and experiences of young people. Overcoming race is crucial to building a united nation for the large majority of learners. Notions of nation and state are intimately connected, and negative perceptions of the current government can lead to marginalisation and disassociation with the nation. Through examining the role of multicultural schools in creating democratic and inclusive spaces, it is argued that they can potentially provide opportunities for meaningful contact that can strengthen national cohesion. More direct interventions are also necessary, however, to ensure that racism, in all its manifestations, is acknowledged and confronted. Although citizenship education also has a role in bridging social divides, this thesis identifies a number of problems confronting teaching and learning in LO. Finally, the research also draws attention to the importance of viewing school spaces as relational and embedded within wider social contexts. In this respect, social attitudes, norms and identities, circulating in broader society both affect and are affected by what happens inside school spaces, with implications for nation-building endeavours.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"South Africa", "youth", "nation-building", "education", "participatory research", "race", "Life Orientation"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Dec 2012 11:12

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