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  1. 1. The Curriculum Journal Vol. 11 No. 1 Spring 2000 69–85 Education, citizenship and difference in the South African transition: policy, politics and practice E L A I N E U N T E R H A LT E R Institute of Education, University of London ABSTRACTThe article looks at three approaches to analysing the relationship between education,citizenship and difference that have been evident in the transition to democracy inSouth Africa. First, it examines the position that education moulds good citizens andovercomes discriminatory differences, which is evident in the South African EducationPolicy Act. (This position is similar to that expounded in the Crick Report.) Second,it looks at the view that education is an enactment of citizenship and a celebration ofdifference. This is articulated in the new South African Curriculum 2005, which cele-brates the school as just one of a number of learning spaces, but which is only slowlybeing implemented with considerable dif culty in overcoming deeply entrenched andmultifaceted discriminatory views. Third, it looks at the view, articulated in the SouthAfrican Constitution of 1996, that education is a relatively autonomous space and thatin this particular institutional space education, difference and citizenship are in tension.While there is potential for a creative dialogue to emerge in this historically formedspace, preliminary research ndings indicate how dif cult and diffuse the process oftransformation is likely to be. KEY WORDScitizenship; South Africa; Crick Report; teaching and learning. INTRODUCTIONThe South African transition to democracy in the 1990s provides a useful case-study of the complexities of the relationship between education, citizenship The Curriculum Journal ISSN 0958–5176 © 2000 British Curriculum Foundation
  2. 2. 70 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 and difference. In a recent article, which drew on issues that emerged at the particular moment of creating a new state, I outlined how the literature regard- ing education, citizenship and difference can be grouped into three broad frameworks (Unterhalter, 1999a). First, there are works which argue that the relationship of education and citizenship is causal. Education moulds citizens and in the process ways of negotiating and overcoming the dif culties of differences (race, class, gender, ethnicity, disability to name but a few) are learned. This is the mainstream position and underpins the recommendations of the Crick commission and the current policy proposals regarding citizen- ship education in Britain (Crick, 1998). Second, there is a position that has characterized some theorists of radical democracy, that is, that the enactment of citizenship is itself educative (learning through doing). The implication of this is that the activities of education are the same as the activities of politics. The terms used by these theorists for describing the enactment of citizenship utilize a vocabulary that echoes contemporary education theory with its stress on understanding, dialogue and critical re ection. In this position difference is not a disruption to be overcome and incorporated, as in the rst position, but a feature of social reality to be acknowledged and engaged with through processes termed transversal dialogue by Patricia Hill Collins and Nira Yuval- Davis (Hill Collins, 1990; Yuval-Davis, 1997); that is the process of under- standing and engaging creatively with difference. The third position I outlined pointed out that both the rst and the second position ignored (for different reasons) the speci c institutional space of education with regard to citizen- ship, and the complexities, contradictions, opportunities and closures implied by this semi-autonomy. In this third position, I believe, education and citizen- ship are held in creative tension. In this article I want to utilize the framework I have developed in order to analyse a number of key policy papers of the South African transition, in order to show in somewhat greater depth how the three positions I have out- lined are expressed in policy texts. I also want to re ect brie y on some of the dif culties that have emerged in South Africa in putting particular formulations of the link between education and citizenship into practice. The article is divided into three sections. The rst section provides some background relating to the processes through which a range of new edu- cation policies came to be formulated and adopted in South Africa up to the mid-1990s and brie y contextualizes the three policy texts to be discussed. The second section looks at the different views regarding the relationship between education and citizenship which emerge from the three texts – the Education Policy Act of 1996, Curriculum 2005, published in 1997, and the Constitution of 1996. In the third section I provide a brief overview of how these policy texts have related to politics and education practice, drawing out some of the implications for theorizing the relationship of education and citizenship.
  3. 3. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 71 TRANSFORMING EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA, 1990–7Apartheid education was marked not only by segregation, under-resourcingfor the majority of children and punitive regimes of control for pupils andteachers, but also by curricula infused with racism, sexism and approaches toknowledge and culture which failed all but a tiny minority (Kallaway, 1984;Nkomo, 1990; Unterhalter et al., 1991; Nasson and Samuel, 1990; Jansen,1991; Cross, 1992). Curriculum transformers of the 1990s characterized thepast era in terms of the use of the curriculum to promote social inequality(NEPI, 1993a: 104; NEPI, 1993b). The transition period, from 1990 up to the elections of 1994, was markedby an intensive period of policy debate and policy-making. The 1980s hadwitnessed a high level of popular mobilization in protest at apartheid edu-cation, with curriculum and governance issues one of the key demands of themovement for People’s Education organized through the NECC (NationalEducation Crisis Committee, later the National Education Co-ordinatingCommittee). In the early 1990s the scale of popular protest waned and theNECC ceded leadership in the policy-making process to academics andpolicy professionals, many of whom had organizational links with the ANC,or the mass democratic movement that had opposed apartheid inside SouthAfrica (Badat, 1995, 1997; Chisholm and Fuller, 1996). As a result, the mainspace for articulating political and educational demands moved from thepublic street demonstration to the private negotiating rooms of commercialconference centres or parliament. Demands, which had been written byhand on pieces of cardboard or passed orally by public acclaim at open meet-ings, were now translated into an of cial language of pacts and legal docu-ments, written by highly educated professionals and word-processed bymachines. It was this largely professionalized policy community that led theNECC’s own policy development exercise NEPI (the National EducationPolicy Investigation) and which helped formulate the ANC Education PolicyFramework and a supplementary document on strategies for the implemen-tation of this framework (IPET). (See NEPI, 1993a; ANC, 1994a, 1994b.) Throughout 1994, many of the key steps identi ed by IPET were put intoplace. A core group began working on an Education White Paper, drawingon the ANC Education Policy Framework. A National Commission onHigher Education was appointed in 1995 and the planning projects thatwould feed into the National Quali cations Framework (NQF) continuedtheir discussions under the aegis of the National Training Board. When in1995 and 1996 key legislation was formulated – on the basis of the WhitePaper of 1995 regarding compulsory education for all children, the NationalQuali cations Framework and the new curriculum – the committees that hadup till then been meeting in the spirit of transformation bodies changed gear
  4. 4. 72 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 and, largely with the same membership, became policy-making bodies for the new government, aiming, in the working title of one NQF document to put ‘ esh on the skeleton’ of ideas that had been formulated in the transition. In the space of ten years, between 1986 and 1996, discussion about future education policy had moved from the streets and prisons to the comfort of of ces. The mood of these discussions had switched from one charged with an atmosphere of secrecy, fear, passion and high hopes to a different key. Now the stress was on formal meeting procedures, compromises with powerful constituencies like the old bureaucrats, the tedium of long agendas and the low horizons of achievable objectives. In the 1980s much of the driving force of education policy discussion was very general aspiration for national liber- ation; in the 1990s side by side with these hopes were speci c aspirations for personal career advancement and implementable administrative changes. In the 1980s much of the discussion about education policy change had been linked explicitly or implicitly with critiques of the links between capitalism and apartheid and the ways in which the education system was complicit in this relationship. In the 1990s a more differentiated view of capitalism and social transformation emerged. For some, capitalism was ‘the only game in town’ and South Africa’s prosperity, and therefore its education policy, had to face the realities of the particular skill demands of global capital; for others, it was possible for there to be a critical engagement between South African policy-makers and the forces of globalization (Kallaway and Kruss, 1997; Unterhalter and Samson, 1998). Two of the documents discussed in this paper, the Education Policy Act of 1996 and Curriculum 2005, published in 1997, emerge out of policy communities that comprised ‘poachers turned into gamekeepers’, that is, policy communities with radical histories adapting to a new locus of power with a new government. However, in contrast to the movement from populism to bureaucracy, which characterized the speci c realm of education policy-making, the writing of the Constitution, which has an important section on education, entailed the opposite dynamic. Here, the rst phase of work had consisted of discussions among lawyers and politicians, largely detached from mass con- stituencies. Out of the deliberations of ‘professionals’ came the Interim Constitution, on the basis of which the 1994 elections were conducted. The 1994 Interim Constitution was as much the product of bargaining and realpolitik as of principle (Friedman, 1993; M. Murray, 1994; Frost, 1996; Guelke, 1999). However, the ANC, unlike some of its political opponents, had insisted that this document could only be an Interim Constitution and that mass consultation and a democratic process of decision-making was essential before a nal Constitution was adopted (Butler, 1998). After the elections an intensive period of constitution making began, probably one of the most democratic processes of constitution writing in history. Elected members of a Constitutional Assembly held meetings throughout the
  5. 5. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 73country where they elicited people’s ideas for the new constitution. An inten-sive media campaign encouraged people to send in submissions. At the sametime the different political parties in South Africa articulated their visionthrough members of the Constitutional Assembly. A number of differentcommittees of the Constitutional Assembly focused on collecting views inparticular areas – for example, gender and labour. A draft Constitution waspublished in November 1995 and endorsed by parliament in May 1996.However, certain issues were referred back to the Constitutional Court. The nal version of the Constitution only came into effect at the end of 1996. While it is not clear that the mass meetings on the Constitution between1994 and 1995 brought any substantive new ideas to the ConstitutionalAssembly (the interjecting of new demands was often seen as frivolous or theresult of a misunderstanding of the process of negotiation and policy for-mation (Weekly Mail, 1996)), they did mean a greater degree of legitimationwas accorded the process of constitution making. Kruss has outlined how theprocess of mass debate allowed the balance of political forces to shift so thatclauses on education became much less defensively concerned with the needsof narrowly speci ed constituencies and more unambiguously phrased interms of rights and equity (Kruss, 1999: 2–3). This search for wide-rangingpopular endorsement was not deemed necessary by the education policycommunity, who tended to include in their committees representatives of keyconstituencies, like teacher unions or employers, but paid very little atten-tion to whether these representatives were or were not in touch with thegroups they were meant to represent. Some of the most trenchant critics ofthe new educational dispensation have highlighted how the considerablechanges in approach to the curriculum and quali cations proposed by thenew policy had not been discussed in depth with a range of education con-stituencies, most notably teachers (Jansen, 1997, 1998). Generally, all three policy texts resonate with the demands of mass-basedmovements in the 1980s regarding citizenship and education. All three were,in the nal analysis, drafted by policy professionals and not by activists orpractitioners. Given these similarities, it is interesting that the three docu-ments give such different emphasis to the relationship between education,citizenship and difference. CITIZENSHIP, EDUCATION AND DIFFERENCE IN THREE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICY DOCUMENTSThe three positions regarding the relationship of education, citizenship anddifference, which I elucidated in my earlier paper, can be found articulated inthree policy texts. The Education Policy Act is a very clear expression of theposition that education moulds citizens and differences need to be overcome
  6. 6. 74 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 in the interests of the nation. Curriculum 2005 utilizes many of the assump- tions of the second position, that is that citizenship is learned through experi- ence in the classroom, where difference and dialogue are acknowledged. The ways in which the classroom is a special ‘space’, different in certain areas to the ‘space’ of citizenship, is not considered; in fact the similarities between the classroom and the street or the community as learning spaces are stressed. The third position, that education is a semi-autonomous space for citizens with differences, emerges in the Constitution of 1996. The texts of the three documents illustrate these different approaches. THE EDUCATION POLICY ACT The Education Policy Act of 1996, which provided much of the framework for the educational initiatives of the new government and speci ed the prin- ciples that were to guide these initiatives, viewed education as the instrument of citizenship. The Act restated the entitlement to education set out in the Interim Constitution, but it also indicated that it is through education that the advancement and protection of the fundamental rights of everyone shall be achieved (South Africa, 1996a: 4). The need to use education to develop citizenship is expressed clearly: The policy contemplated . . . shall be directed toward . . . enabling the education system to contribute to the full personal development of each student, and the moral, social, cultural, political and economic develop- ment of the nation at large, including the advancement of democracy, human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. It can be seen that the Act elides personal development of each student and the development of the ‘nation at large’. It is implied that the one entails the other. An articulation of difference, for example regarding gender or race, which may assist personal, but not national, development (or vice versa) is not contemplated. Education is thus portrayed as a means to overcome differ- ence, to form an integrated nation, to resolve, not acknowledge, con ict. In subsequent clauses the speci c role of education in promoting gender equal- ity (but interestingly not racial equality) is mentioned. The Act, in specify- ing the purposes of education – to encourage lifelong learning, ‘to cultivate skills, disciplines and capacities necessary for reconstruction and develop- ment’ – identi es its utility for projects of nation building. In all of this the Education Policy Act is closer to the views on education and citizenship of nineteenth-century Europe and the newly independent states of Africa in the 1960s than to the debates on radical democracy in South Africa and Europe in the 1990s. The Act also identi es the purpose of education with regard to ‘encouraging independent and critical thought, and to promote enquiry,
  7. 7. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 75research and the advancement of knowledge’; but these aims, which allowsome space for a critical education of citizens and an exploration of differ-ence, appear subordinated to the ‘greater good’ of the needs of the ‘nation atlarge’. The Education Policy Act acknowledges the need for ‘broad public par-ticipation in the development of education policy and the representation ofstakeholders in the governance of the education system’ (South Africa, 1996a:5). Thus there is a notion of education linked to the domain of the communityand not imposed from above or consumed by separate possessive individuals.But the notion of stakeholders, imported from an economistic version of thepolitical, casts civil society in a particular mould. Civil society, it is implied,is not a body with whom a constantly shifting dialogue about ‘the good ofthe nation’ might take place, but more a disparate set of interests who will(unproblematically) represent their sectional stake in any discussions aboutpolicy directions. This rather limited role does not appear as a strong articu-lation of active citizenship, but merely an expansion of the notion of posses-sive individuals to encompass possessive communities or stakeholders. (Fora discussion of the concept of stakeholders with regard to the South AfricanSchools Act of 1996, see Sayed and Carrim, 1997; for a theoretical critique ofthe terms see Morrow, 1998; for a discussion of the history of the concept ofstakeholders in South Africa, see Unterhalter, 1998.) The general orientation of the Education Policy Act is to identify edu-cation as the servant of larger projects. The (ungendered, deracialized) indi-vidual is depicted engaging in education as part of a route of attachment toundertakings like ‘the moral, social, cultural, political and economicdevelopment of the nation’ (South Africa, 1996a: 4). The link between edu-cation and citizenship outlined in the Education Policy Act appears to beformulated in terms of education promoting citizenship and integration withthe nation. It is a conceptualization that, despite gestures towards debateswith stakeholders, avoids engaging with social complexity and any notionsof difference. The limitations of this view are drawn out by feminist political theorists.Much of the deeply entrenched discrimination against women occurs not inthe public sphere, where they have formal rights of citizenship and partici-pation, but in the so-called private spheres of the family, religious or com-munity groups. These domains are often legitimated by the state and theirdeeply discriminatory practices considered beyond the remit of of cialpolicy. Citizenship education may fail to engage with the ways in which thefamily and civil society are not helpmates in the project of building nationaldemocracy, but may indeed undermine some of the values of tolerance, equal-ity and justice citizenship education seeks to teach. In those circumstancesthe position articulated by the South African Education Policy Act could failto engage with the sources of racism, sexism and other injustices.
  8. 8. 76 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 CURRICULUM 2005 Curriculum 2005, issued in 1997, contrasts with the Education Policy Act’s strong vision of national good. Curriculum 2005 outlines the curriculum to be followed in schools. It tends to place the national good rather schemati- cally as a rubric in its promotional materials and opening statements re- garding aims (National Department of Education, 1997a, 1997b; South Africa, 1997). Much of Curriculum 2005 explores questions of difference and many of the learning outcomes are explicitly about understanding difference using dialogue and re ection. But, despite the considerable concern with questions of difference, there are puzzling omissions and inconsistencies with regard to difference throughout the document. For example, approaches to learning about rights, or overcoming gender and race discrimination, appear and disappear in different sections. They are to be found in some of the formulations of outcomes, range statements and assessment criteria pro- duced for the eight learning areas, but not in others (South Africa, 1997; Unterhalter and Samson, 1998; Jansen, 1998; Unterhalter 1999b; Enslin and Pendlebury, 1999). There is no consistent approach in Curriculum 2005 to the question of citizenship and difference. Partly this re ects the dispersal of responsibility for drafting Curriculum 2005 among many different commit- tees. Partly it re ects concern that developing an understanding of South African society does not exclude other components of the curriculum. But largely, in my view, it indicates the outcomes-based education (OBE) phil- osophy that underpins Curriculum 2005, where knowledge is enacted; the student is not a passive recipient of information. Because so much stress is placed on learning as doing and displaying outcomes, little content is pre- scribed. The assumption is that the skills and understanding developed through OBE, where the teacher is the facilitator, map easily onto the world of work or of democratic citizenship. In Curriculum 2005 a whole range of general and particular differences are acknowledged and diversity is constantly stressed and utilized. In con- trast with the Education Policy Act, Curriculum 2005 tends not to make too tight a connection between the lofty national citizenship goals of education and the shifting processes of day-to-day classroom interactions. It is sug- gested, probably correctly, that the necessarily diverse forms of citizenship will daily be enacted in the classroom. Very little attention is given as to how the speci c conditions in classrooms – questions of differences in resources, teachers’ experience, systems of assessment, the different backgrounds of children, different approaches to management and governance, to name but a few – might impinge on this diversity. Do these all just knit together as part of a rich fabric of difference, or do they shape the possibilities of citizenship in particular ways that need to be acknowledged and examined, not just celebrated?
  9. 9. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 77 THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONSTITUTIONBy contrast with the Education Policy Act, the Constitution of 1996 explic-itly acknowledges a space for difference. But it does so less in terms of the‘transversal dialogue’ celebrated by Curriculum 2005, and more in terms of aquite complex way of thinking about the relationship of education, citizen-ship and difference, utilizing the notion that education is a relatively auton-omous sphere. Education and citizenship, it is implied, comprise a convergingbut different terrain. The clauses on education and the extent to which difference in relation toeducation should be tolerated or engaged with were some of its most con-tested clauses in both the interim and nal Constitution. Kruss points outhow the Interim Constitution of 1993 provided for the right to establishschools based on ‘common culture, language or religion’, providing there wasno racial discrimination. By contrast, the nal Constitution of 1996 makes amore robust statement that monolingual or monocultural schools must besubject to principles of equity, practicability, redress and anti-discrimination(Kruss, 1999). These schools are thus to be scrutinized and regulated by thestate. The 1996 Constitution guarantees to everyone the right to a basic edu-cation, including adult basic education, and commits the state ‘throughreasonable measures’ to make further education, that is beyond four years ofbasic education, ‘available and accessible’ to all (South Africa, 1996b: 14). TheConstitution confers on members of particular cultural, religious or linguis-tic communities rights to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and usetheir language, to form associations and other organs of civil society and toestablish their own independent educational institutions. However, theConstitution is explicit that these rights must not be exercised in a mannerinconsistent with any provision of the Bill of Rights (South Africa, 1996b:15). By this means the Constitution wishes both to allow particular collec-tivities the right to continue to exist and conduct educational projects, whilewishing to stress that these projects must not enshrine discrimination as out-lawed in other sections of the Bill of Rights. Kruss (1999) and Carrim (1998)have outlined how the combination of broad statements about education andrights in the Constitution and the absence of programmes and strategiesregarding how these should be implemented at the provincial, school andclassroom level have paved the way for the re-emergence of discriminationand injustice in schooling. I will return to this in the nal section of the article. It is evident that the South African Constitution contains a view ofcitizenship that acknowledges diversity. How does this acknowledgement ofdifference – at its negative and positive poles – in ect the formulation of arelationship between education and citizenship? In exploring this I want tolook at three themes: (i) the debates about rights that underpinned themaking of the South African Constitution and the implication of these for
  10. 10. 78 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 the conception of education; (ii) the notion of difference within the Con- stitution and the implications of this for thinking about education; (iii) assumptions within the Constitution about schools and the possibilities and limitations these place on teaching about citizenship and difference. The debates about rights that informed the drafting of the Constitution saw lawyers, in the main, grappling with questions of the social construction of rights. Some of the key debates with regard to the drafting of the Consti- tution concerned the extent to which the document should attempt to secure social and economic rights, or only political rights (Sachs, 1990; Mureinik, 1992; Haysom, 1992; van Wyk, Dugard et al., 1994; Liebenberg, 1995a). In this debate issues of gender equity were conceptualized in terms of women using political rights and the Constitution to advance social and economic rights. Feminist interventions were concerned to utilize state power to ensure areas of discrimination against women were not left intact because they entailed a wider concept of rights than that of narrow liberal political theory. As Sandra Liebenberg wrote concerning the need to view social and econ- omic rights as indeed justiciable: The exclusion of social and economic rights from the constitution would not only fail to re ect prevailing trends in international human rights law, but would also fail in creating an integrated framework for demo- cratic governance in South Africa. This is not so much an issue of jurisprudential possibility, but of political will. (Liebenberg, 1995b: 378) The extent to which the Constitution could be used to advance vertical rights, that is, rights against the state, or horizontal rights, that is, rights against private individuals or non-state bodies, was an area of much discussion. Here feminist debate was adamant that if the Constitution could not secure hori- zontal rights, many of the areas in which women were discriminated against – the family, religious communities, customary law – would be ruled outside the purview of the Bill of Rights (Kadalie, 1995; Kathree, 1995; Liebenberg, 1995b). The civil society debate, or more accurately set of debates (Glaser, 1997), also impinged on the ways in which rights came under scrutiny. This complex set of discussions, which had begun in the mid-1980s as part of discussions about political strategy by opposition forces, became in the 1990s a set of contestations about the limits and nature of the power of the new state. Watchdog bodies, like the Human Rights Commission appointed in 1996 and the Gender Commission appointed in 1997, constituted themselves partly in terms of articulating the views of civil society on the extent to which the spirit of the Constitution was being ful lled. However, their success in distancing themselves from government has been limited. Their ability to provide tren- chant critiques or directions for action with regard to human rights violations or gender injustices in speci c institutions, for example schools (Wolpe et al.,
  11. 11. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 791997) or prisons, has been limited. The wide-ranging debate about rights thatinformed the constitution-making process entailed an exploration of ques-tions of difference; but education was not explicitly part of this debate. It wasconsidered, more by implication than direct analysis, as the realm both ofstate policy and of civil society. This history has led to the Constitution as text suggesting a multilayerednotion of difference. This entails a complex relationship between educationand citizenship. In a number of ways the document recognizes difference andattempts to work with principles of equity and justice to overcome the injus-tices to which difference has been linked. Thus the Constitution is foundedon values of: (a) Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. (b) Non-racialism and non-sexism. (c) Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law. (d) Universal adult suffrage, a national common voters roll, regular election and a multiparty system of democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness. (South Africa, 1996b: 3)The Constitution pivots citizenship in relation to Marshall’s notion ofcitizenship operating on three levels of economic, political and social rights.But in addition it incorporates a universalist concern with ‘human rights andfreedoms’ and an acknowledgement of particularly pernicious differences –racism and sexism – that need to be overcome. The Constitution acknowledges positive dimensions of difference, rst inrecognizing nine of cial languages and af rming that because of the historically diminished use and status of the indigenous languages of our people the state must take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these languages. (South Africa, 1996b: 4)In addition, other even more marginalized languages (including sign language)are acknowledged and the Constitution commits the state to create conditionsfor their development, use and respect (ibid.). The Bill of Rights acknowledgesdiversity of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic and socialorigin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief,culture, language and birth and forbids discrimination on these grounds(South Africa, 1996b: 7). The South African Constitution thus contains a viewof citizenship that acknowledges diversity. While grappling with this diversitymust be a key undertaking of the education system, the Constitution does notdictate in injunctions how diversity is to be translated from passive entitle-ment into actual enjoyment of rights in educational institutions.
  12. 12. 80 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 The Constitution is relatively reticent regarding detailed commentary about schools as spaces for public education. The Constitution acknowledges diversity, which aligns it both with the South African civil society advocates, many of whose views found expression in Curriculum 2005, and with the theorists of radical democracy, or creole liberalism, a term used by the South African legal theorists, Woolman and Davis (1996). But the Constitution does not privilege critical pedagogy or transversal dialogue in the ways some writers in this tradition do. The Constitution recognizes difference and commits itself to equity, but is adamant on the existence of a range of differ- ent institutional spheres over which it has jurisdiction, one of which is edu- cation. The implication is that, unlike the suggestion in Curriculum 2005 that the school is just another space for everyday life, the Constitution speci es a particular institutional space for education subject to speci c laws, where all practices are implicitly under a high level of scrutiny, although the capacity to effect this at present remains limited. Yet in some ways the clauses of the Constitution dealing with education are quite vague and this is undoubtedly partly because of the enormous dif - culties entailed in reaching agreement on these issues, primarily between the ANC and the National Party. In contrast with the very tight delimitation of roles and activities outlined with regard to employment, for example, edu- cation is left loose and unspeci ed. In contrast with the view that education should be used to promote citizenship, as suggested by the Education Policy Act, for example, the South African Constitution sets broad parameters of rights, and devolves education provision to state institutions and culturally identi ed bodies of civil society. It is from this position that the diverse views on education and citizenship identi ed in Curriculum 2005 and the Edu- cation Policy Act, discussed above, emerge. Education, according to the Constitution, will not necessarily advance citizenship, but rather citizenship secures (some) education. These three South African policy texts, therefore, epitomize very different understandings of the relationship between education and citizenship. The Education Policy Act sees the education system creating a particular form of ‘good citizen’ who will be committed to the national good. While Curricu- lum 2005 makes some gestures in this direction, it is also concerned with the particularities of difference and dialogue across difference. The overall impression of the document is that citizenship entails negotiating difference, not always just to acquire economic competitiveness or smooth national inte- gration. The Constitution also accords particular importance to difference, but attempts to specify certain institutional conditions under which its posi- tive aspects might ourish and its negative dimensions diminish. In the nal section of the article I want to consider some of the ways in which policy has been put into practice and some of the questions regarding education and citizenship that emerge.
  13. 13. C I TI ZE N SH IP E D UC AT IO N IN S O UT H A FR IC A 81 PUTTING POLICY INTO PRACTICEThe rst approach, using the education system to form a common citizen-ship, can currently be seen both being put into practice but also, to someextent, being undermined. In the wake of the Education Policy Act of 1996,the South African Schools Act made it illegal to deny children access toschool on the grounds of race, gender or poverty. Schools have opened to allchildren and the education system does, potentially, offer the space to educateall children in a common citizenship. However, neither the South AfricanSchools Act, nor subsequent administrative measures to allocate human and nancial resources to the most needy schools, can overcome a long historyof deep divisions and inequities in South African schooling. The aspirationto build a common citizenship out of a single education system continues tobe threatened by two features of post-1994 South Africa. First, there are verydeep divisions between different types of schools. Some are well resourced,offering excellent learning environments, while others lack basic resourceslike teachers who attend to their duties, water and learning materials (EPUReview, 1998; Christie, 1998). Second, the reconstitution of identities ofwhiteness in schools are making for increasingly exclusive enclaves of Jewish,Greek or Afrikaans children who, in increasing numbers, attend ethnicallycircumscribed schools (Carrim, 1995). In some schools that have nominallydesegregated the maintenance of separate language groups by the school isaccompanied by widespread racism, noticeably in the form of verbal orphysical abuse by white Afrikaans speaking children against black Englishspeakers (Vally and Dalamba, 1999). This new division between schoolssuggests that, side by side with identities of South Africanness and commoncitizenship, other identities – which may potentially challenge a commoncitizenship – are being formed. The second approach to citizenship and education, exploring differencethrough Curriculum 2005, is still in its infancy. The new curriculum is beingintroduced very slowly, and the resources in terms of teachers’ training, newmaterials and critical debate regarding implementation are all sorely stretched.Pessimists, like Jansen, consider the lack of resources will abort the curricu-lum initiative (Jansen, 1998). Others hold a watching brief (Vally, 1999). Afterthe 1999 elections the new Minister of Education, Kader Asmal, made ensur-ing the success of Curriculum 2005 through supporting teachers and thedevelopment of learning resources one of his key priorities (Asmal, 1999). Itis probably impossible for the aspirations entailed in the second position tobe realized fully everywhere, even given the new drive and energy mobilizedby the appointment of Asmal. Indeed, Kruss has pointed to very super cialmulticulturalism as an aspect of curriculum development in the best resourcedschools in South Africa and the maintenance of very uniform cultures ofpoverty in the worst. She has thus questioned whether curriculum change
  14. 14. 82 T H E C U R RI CU L U M JO U R N A L Vol. 11 No. 1 entails anything other than an engagement with essentialized different identi- ties of pupils (Kruss, 1999). With regard to the notion of the critical tension between education and citizenship implied in the third position, it is partly out of this that the under- mining of the rst two positions emerges. It is because schools are semi- autonomous that they can subvert notions of common citizenship and the positive exploration of difference. However, a much less negative reading of the third position would be the ways in which schools as special spaces allow for the reproduction of dominant notions of citizenship, as well as critical re ections on these. The generation currently completing secondary school, Mandela’s children, who have been schooled under conditions of transition, will provide interesting evidence of whether this is indeed the case. Much of the research with regard to questions of race and desegregation is pessimistic about the nature and types of changes that are being effected in schools (Vally and Dalamba 1999; Kruss, 1999), but work with teachers and pupils regard- ing complex questions of identity, citizenship and difference has not yet been done. What are the implications of these different emphases regarding education and citizenship both in South Africa and beyond? The three texts indicate a range of approaches to education and citizenship. There are dominant ideas that are not unique to South Africa: these are that children can and should learn to be citizens and that the nature of citizenship is uncontested. Never- theless, there are also dissenting ideas regarding the exclusionary and dis- criminatory assumptions that might be masked by citizenship as a general good, and the ways that children can develop a deeper and more critical understanding of this. Curriculum 2005 attempts this by suggesting there is no special learning space in the school, that children need to ‘learn life’. The Constitution, however, suggests the importance of maintaining a special insti- tutional space for children to learn, indicating that this is different from, but has some relation to, for example, a political or religious organization, their homes or the street. It appears to me that unless the nature of this different space – the school – is recognized in thinking about citizenship and education, a number of politi- cal problems will emerge. If the rst position is adopted, the school will be linked with one dominant group’s understanding of the nature of citizenship and the nation, and dissent and critique will be marginalized. If the second position is adopted, learning at school may be indistinguishable from that in any site of civil society. Thus arguments for the use of public resources cannot be made. The inevitable selection of certain groupings in civil society, and not others, to have a voice in the citizenship classes will not be fair or practicable. Thus very special attention needs to be given to citizenship and education not simply as features of rights, or as elaborated in details regarding subjects in a curriculum but also as constantly changing relationships in different historical conditions. The disjuncture between policy and practice noted in South Africa
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