Bantu Education Act Essay Index

Education for Reconciliation workshop in progress. Photo / IJR


South Africa’s education system is often described as a hindrance to socio-economic development. This seems even more relevant in light of the most recent World Economic Forum Report, which identified South Africa as one of the worst performing countries in the field of education, in the world. Under the “Skills” sub-category, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education comes in last place. Even though the Report’s findings have been challenged, including by the South African Department of Basic Education, based on the processes of data gathering and statistical analysis, there is no denying that South Africa’s education system is not performing as it should be.

This article sets out to offer a comprehensive overview of the challenges and root causes of South Africa’s currently struggling education system. It offers innovative perspectives, introducing for example the concept of “woundedness” and the role of reconciliation in education. It showcases that a society, such as South Africa, needs to tackle its issues on education on a micro, meso and macro level – in the classroom, among societal actors and through educational reform.

A history of oppression and inequality in education

“In South Africa, the hierarchical structure of society, including access to wealth, prestige and power, was constructed to be on the basis of race through decades and even centuries of institutionalised inequality”(Taylor & Yu 2009, 5). Under the apartheid state, income inequalities were systematically structured along racial lines. The racist policies of the state were explicit and deliberate and this racial discrimination directly affected income and earnings.

One of the most vivid examples of the perpetuation of racist ideologies through an extensive process of social engineering in the history of South Africa is the schooling system and the implementation of the Bantu Education Act of 1953. The Bantu Education system was rooted in the systematic underdevelopment of black people and the differential access to education based on race. (During apartheid there were four racial classifications for South Africans. These were White, African, Asian and Coloured. When the term Black is used in this piece it is generally meant to refer to African, Asian and Coloured population groups.)

Segregated Bantu education

Until the early 20th century, virtually all non-whites were subjected to missionary schooling. This, in contrast to whites who received schooling directly provided for or subsidised by local governments. By 1923 it was compulsory for all children of ‘European descent’ to undergo a minimum of seven years of schooling, while it remained optional, and often exceptionally challenging, for non-whites to pursue an education. (Malherbe, 1925, 401).

In 1948, the National Party was elected to power with a strong apartheid agenda which included the system of white supremacy and the systematic marginalisation and exclusion of blacks. The Bantu Education Act of 1953 was aimed at providing the labour market with unskilled workers.  The rationale for an inferior education for blacks was articulated by the Minister of Native Affairs, Hendrik Verwoerd, who became known as the chief architect of apartheid when he explained the intention of the Act:

“There is no place (for the Bantu) in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour…  Until now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze.” (Pampallis, 1991, 184).

The Bantu Education system robbed the largest section of the population of basic skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving and instead, equipped them with a substandard education that effectively confined them and, in all likelihood, the following generation to a life deprived of the most basic of human rights.

In South Africa successive governments since 1953 essentially institutionalised this underdevelopment of black people through the education system. What followed was a 40 year period of developing a system of education that in effect exercised social control over the political and economic aspirations of black people. This served to reinforce social notions of superiority and inferiority between black and white, male and female (Biko, 2013, 174).

Education today bears scars of the past

It has been argued that one of the biggest tragedies of democratic South Africa is the lack of real reform within the education system. Post-1994 many public schools recruited black teachers, many of whom were themselves articles of the Bantu Education system. The administration at the time, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, followed by Thabo Mbeki, unfortunately did little to eradicate unequal access to quality education in democratic South Africa. (Biko, 2013).

In spite of the inferior quality of and resistance to Bantu Education, enrolment grew rapidly over the years. By 1988 primary school enrolment reached 5.4 million and secondary school enrolments almost 1.7 million, compared to 852 000 primary school and 31 000 secondary enrolments in 1953 (Unterhalter et al., 1991, 37). Today, most black adults would have been subjected to the apartheid education system as students, and now find themselves as parents, teachers and some even education administrators.  Peter Lee, South African blogger and activist, reminds us that, “by 1994, 85% of teachers in Soweto were themselves articles of Bantu Education.  He asserts that:

“These educators are victims of massive theft and systematic humiliation – both in their past, in their childhood and under apartheid, and potentially in the present if they own up to the fact of the situation.  The old wounds are just below the skin, waiting to be reopened” (Lee, 2012, 3).

In light of the complex Bantu education system, devised to ensure unequal education across races, it may be argued that it is not a surprise that South African education continues to struggle today to overcome such a deliberately divisive system, or that it still perpetuates patterns of the past, promoting inequality.

Half of the young drop out

Spaull’s analysis of standardised cross-national assessments, that South Africa participates in, shows that a large proportion of black pupils from poor schools are functionally illiterate and innumerate. Despite being an economic power in Sub-Saharan Africa and its massive financial investment into education, South Africa’s education performance is below that of many countries including low-income African countries (Spaull, 2013). A key indicator used by the South African government to measure education performance is the “matric”, or high school graduation, pass rate. Education researchers have pointed to the misleading use of this indicator, as it fails to account for the high levels of drop-outs.

Learner retention is a greater concern with rising drop-out levels from grade 10 to 12. The high drop-out levels are correlated with socio-economic status, with most drop-outs observed in the poorer school quintiles (Lolwana, 2012). Spaull’s (2013) research shows that “of 100 pupils that start school, only 50 will make it to grade 12, 40 will pass, and only 12 will qualify for university”(Spaull, 2013, 3). This means that half of the cohort is lost by the final year of schooling. ‘Second chance’ pathways are limited for young drop-outs, with an estimated three million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 falling within the category of ‘not in education, employment, or training’ categories (Sheppard & Cloete, 2009). These young people, who are mostly black, remain highly vulnerable to long term unemployment and under-employment (Nieuwenhuis & Beckmann 2012; Rankin et al. 2012).

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Rampant unemployment

South Africa’s unemployment rate is chronically high at 25.2 percent overall and a youth (15-34 years) unemployment rate of 36.1 percent (Statistics South Africa, 2014). The disaggregated unemployment data shows that most of the unemployed are typically young and black and have lesser years of education (Murray et al. 2010; Branson et al. 2012).

Sectors that have traditionally employed low-skilled labour force have shrunk over the past decade as the labour market has shifted towards capital intensive production processes that demand a highly skilled labour force. Even when jobs are available, black youth are further disadvantaged by their lack of social networks (Rankin et al., 2012). Their white counterparts often have a great deal of social capital, they are connected to a network of inherited resources from which they are able to enjoy material benefits such as information about job openings and referrals (Rankin et al., 2012; Mogues and Carter, 2004).

Thus, sustainable policy levers to radically deracialise the economy will require coordinated interventions in the education system. This will require focusing on policies that promote completion of twelve years of schooling, improving quality of education, increasing access to a broad range of quality post-school qualifications, and providing second chance pathways for school drop-outs.

In summary: education inequality persists

So far in this text we have shown how injustices within the education system persist and have very real consequences for the larger South African population. A poor education drastically decreases prospects of social mobility and many youth are condemned to lives of fewer opportunities and a lowered sense of self-determination. In South Africa, the type of education an individual has access to is largely proportional to their socio-economic status, and because socio-economic status and race are so inextricably linked within the South African context, the danger exists for the further perpetuation of the stereotype that intelligence and development are the domains of whites and that blacks are largely uneducated and inferior. Poor schools have higher absenteeism, failures and drop outs, leading to higher levels of unemployment among youth who often as a consequence engage in illegal activities. Prospects of qualifying for tertiary education are also significantly reduced. (de Kadt, n.d., 27).

Social implications of education reform are key

The positive economic implications of an improved education system are important but it is the social implications that have the potential to fundamentally transform the South African society. The purpose of education should ultimately be towards the enhancement of individual capacities, capabilities and ways of being in the world with the aim of contributing to the building of inclusive societies. An enhancement of individual capabilities through quality education and the social awareness that comes with it has the potential to increase the individuals’ capacity for engaging with others and the environment critically.

Twenty years into the democracy of South Africa and there is a new generation of politically active youth who have no lived experience or memory of the atrocities of the past. Yet, they face increasing challenges in the form of escalating violent crimes, some levels of enduring poverty, inequality and unemployment. For a large sector of the population material change is yet to come. For a small minority, opportunities of attending former model C (previously whites only) schools or formerly white universities offer an escape from a cycle of poverty. Although it is recognised that education and transformation within the education infrastructure might not be the solution for all the social problems in the country, calls for equality and justice within the education system is particularly compelling given the potentially transformative power it yields if implemented.

Education as an agent for reconciliation

Reconciliation is a difficult concept to pin down to a single definition, largely because people attach too many meanings to the concept (Gibson, 2004). Wale (2013) points out that reconciliation must be conceptualised as multi-dimensional incorporating the psychological, philosophical, political and material elements. In an attempt to provide an operational definition of reconciliation, Gibson (2004) extended the concept beyond the interpersonal to incorporate constitutional principles, and institutions of South African democracy. Other theorists have distinguished between two levels at which reconciliation operates – the individual and national level. Individual reconciliation places emphasis on the relationship between individual victims and perpetrators and is typically reflected in processes such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is underpinned by the assumption that truth-telling and remorse by perpetrators will lead to forgiveness from their victims.

National reconciliation on the other hand is concerned with the interpersonal and redressing broader structural issues that have previously shaped power relations and may continue to do so if not adequately addressed. From this view, reconciliation must go beyond the psychological, especially in countries like South Africa that have enduring socio-economic and psychological legacies (Frankish and Bradbury, 2012).
Education can play a crucial role in radically transforming structural inequality and unequal power relations. Its potential extends beyond providing avenues for social mobility and breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. It has a significant contribution to make in terms of “[unravelling] the apartheid-era social structure and create a more cohesive and less polarised society” (Van der Berg, et al, 2011:3).

However, the prospects for radically transforming social structures through education are continually hindered by poorly conceived reforms and continuing disparities in South Africa’s school system (Jansen and Taylor, 2003). While post-apartheid South Africa has made significant improvements in terms of education attainment this has not reduced racial income inequality due to inefficiencies and continuing disparities in the education system.

Educational reform is something that takes place for the broad societal level. In the following chapter we will explore why educational reform has not been able to eradicate inequality and how the issues of the past impact on the day to day teaching experience.

‘Wounds’ of the past impact the present

Martha Cabrera’s seminal work on “Living and surviving in a multiply wounded country” proves to be most useful. Cabrera worked as a psychologist in Nicaragua and kept running into blockages in sessions with people who had experienced severe trauma, both structural and personal. The essence of her findings is powerfully articulated when she asserts:

“Trauma and pain afflict not only individuals. When they become widespread and ongoing, they affect entire communities and even the country as a whole. The implications are serious for people’s health, the resilience of the country’s social fabric, the success of the development schemes and the hope of future generations.” (Cabrera, M., 2002).

The reality of generational woundedness has not been adequately taken into account when we interrogate the challenges faced by the education sector in South Africa. The wounds inflicted by centuries of denial of quality education cannot be erased by a decree of equal education as we did in the aftermath of the dawn of democracy in South Africa. The new democratic government was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of addressing high levels of inequality, forging a nation out of disparate and warring groups and kick-starting an almost bankrupt economy. In the process, South Africa neglected the fact that the work needed to reverse the serious educational challenges.

The post-1994 education system was designed to promote nation building, inculcate democratic values, and address material and social exclusion of the poor (Msila, 2007; Van der Berg et al., 2011). As a result, a number of reforms were introduced at the various levels of the education system.

However, instead of starting with small, fundamental changes, starting with early childhood development and working incrementally through the system, we opted for wholesale experimental changes which further entrenched the inequalities. One of these experiments was the introduction of Curriculum 2005 which sought to introduce Outcomes Based Education (OBE) in all schools in 1997. The objective of OBE was to “enable all learners to achieve their maximum ability” by encouraging “a learner-centred and activity based approach to education.” (Dept of Education, 2002)

Critics, among them Rector Jonathan Jansen, strong advocate for an improved education system in South Africa, critique OBE, predicting that it will fail because it was ill-conceived and entirely unsuitable. Jansen suggests that OBE was technically flawed because the fundamental changes needed to transition apartheid education were not in place. Some of these fundamental changes would have included infrastructural adjustments to create classrooms that are conducive to learner-centred and activity based approaches, an aggressive teacher retraining programme and generous resource allocation.  Other issues, such as the lack of resources in most schools, the weak culture of teaching and learning and the shedding of teaching posts through a rationalisation process, rendered OBE toothless. Moreover, the politicians were under pressure to show transformation progress before the second democratic election of 1999 (Jansen, 1998, 9).

Uncovering wounds

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), founded in the year 2000, is a non-governmental organisation that was forged out of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process. Our Institute set out to continue working in various levels of society in South Africa but also other African countries to better understand the injustices of the past and find ways to overcome those in order to move into a better, more unified future. In the field of education, IJR works with education officials and teachers, exploring two aspects – the impact of the past on teaching and teachers, as well as on how to teach a challenging “past” in classrooms.

During its recent work, IJR uncovered that the “wounds” inflicted by the education system, both past and present, feature prominently whenever the blockages in education are discussed. After a workshop with senior education officials in November 2013 for example, the group found that the majority of South Africans, including education officials were suffering from unconscious woundedness. Most of the teachers in the system at the dawn of a democratic era had been victims of inferior resource allocation as well as carrying memories of trauma, in the form of beatings, persecution and in many cases even imprisonment as a result of fighting the “system”. It became evident that the risk of transferring this systemic and personal woundedness to subsequent generations is real and requires conscious efforts to address.  As an outcome, the group suggested practical ways of redress.

The first step would be a conscious acknowledgement that woundedness needs to be addressed on an institutional level. It needs to be reflected in policies and strategies to ensure that it is not perpetuated in future. The Education Ministry should have been proactive in ensuring that every policy is underpinned by an acknowledgement of woundedness and commitment to address and reverse the psychological damage of apartheid.  This commitment should then be operationalised by including therapeutic components in teacher training, retraining and enrichment.  It will however not be enough to make it a matter for the Department of Education alone, but nationwide awareness and advocacy are required. A wide array of stakeholders would have to be included in addressing the matter, not only education officials but also other officials, parents and the broader community. This can be done by strengthening the school, parent and community partnership and getting professionals from the community to contribute their skills, particularly in the psycho-social area.

Besides the institutional level, there are also some very practical ideas for teachers to implement. Capacity building and support for teachers, making them aware of the issue of woundedness and how to avoid it, become present in the classroom through their own teaching.

Working with youth. Photo: IJR

These practical recommendations tie in with the IJR approach to addressing woundedness in education through its education for reconciliation project.  The IJR has been working for many years to assist teaching institutions to uncover how best to teach the past and which brought IJR the Unesco Peace Prize for Education in 2008.

At IJR we believe that understanding the past is a key ingredient for any society to not repeat mistakes but also to move forward. It therefore promotes history as a compulsory subject in classrooms. It concerns the development of inclusive teaching materials that provide multi-layered perspectives on history, instead of one-side approaches of capturing history. To this effect, the IJR developed materials to enable teachers to teach topics of the recent history such as apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, providing perspectives from all racial groups affected; perpetrators and victims on both sides of the lines.  We have, for example, commissioned a diverse panel of history experts to write the text of the seminal history text, known as Turning Points in History, where the focus is more on the event as a turning point in history as opposed to focussing on the event as a right or wrong, “villain/victim” and “demon/angel” phenomenon.

Because the teaching of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission evoked very strong emotions, we asked a broad and inclusive range of teachers to pilot our material, consisting of text and evocative video material, and to document the processes, methodologies and emotional responses – their own as well as their learners’.  This enabled us to develop a publication entitled, “An Additional Resource to Teaching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to be used in schools when teaching sensitive material.

In conclusion

Considering the history of South Africa’s education system and the legacy of apartheid, education plays a pivotal role in transformation and change. Policy decisions in education but also for economic development since 1994 have often perpetuated racial divides and indirectly contributed to the widening gap between rich and poor that in many instances still runs across racial lines.

Exploring the concept of woundedness showed that even the work of day to day teaching is still very much impacted by the past and that concerted effort by policy makers, civil society and ordinary citizens are needed to firstly surface the issues, and then to find ways to work through and overcome them. An organisation such as the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation is but one role player among many to assist in this regard.
Working on the concept of woundedness supports the need for reconciliation for education. Reconciliation in education is both a catalyst and an outcome for society. A strong drive to acknowledge the importance of reconciliation in a society such as South Africa seems key for sustainable growth and development. Even though reconciliation is often intangible and difficult to operationalize, not dealing with the past and the perpetuation of inequality will in the long run be more explosive and disruptive for any society. There is no doubt that South Africa needs to address education issues on various levels to bring it into full effect.

Besides calling on state-driven structural and institutional reforms for education to address the macro level of the problem, addressing the micro level of day to day teaching seems as important. It is however not only between educational stakeholders that the shifts will be effective but on a meso level of active citizenship to drive reconciliation and justice is equally important.

Reconciliation for effective education

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013/ Photo: South Africa The Good News

When former President Nelson Mandela passed away on 5 December 2013, the term reconciliation regained traction, not only in South Africa but around the world. It is a term that in many ways was shaped by Madiba’s life and work. His in-depth understanding of this transformational concept led South Africa to peace. His understanding was not based on the “forgive and forget” approach, but instead on the understanding that for the greater good of a free, fair and democratic society reconciliation was not an option, but a necessity. He understood that efforts to unite a deeply hurt and divided society would be more radical than a revolution, more radical than retribution and revenge. He saw his task in laying a stable foundation of a new nation, which he did with unwavering dignity and humility, epitomising the philosophy of Ubuntu, or “humanity towards others”.

However, reconciliation is a difficult concept to pin down to a single definition, largely because people attach too many meanings to the concept (Gibson, 2004). Wale (2013) points out that reconciliation must be conceptualised as multi-dimensional incorporating the psychological, philosophical, political and material elements. In an attempt to provide an operational definition of reconciliation, Gibson (2004) extended the concept beyond the interpersonal to incorporate constitutional principles, and institutions of South African democracy. Other theorists have distinguished between two levels at which reconciliation operates – the individual and national level. Individual reconciliation places emphasis on the relationship between individual victims and perpetrators and is typically reflected in processes such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is underpinned by the assumption that truth-telling and remorse by perpetrators will lead to forgiveness from their victims.

National reconciliation on the other hand is concerned with the interpersonal and redressing broader structural issues that have previously shaped power relations and may continue to do so if not adequately addressed. From this view, reconciliation must go beyond the psychological, especially in countries like South Africa that have enduring socio-economic and psychological legacies (Frankish and Bradbury, 2012).

Mamdani (1996) thus has argued for a balance between justice and reconciliation, in his critique of the TRC process which he critiques for its failure to account for the economic crimes of apartheid. As a result, post-apartheid South Africa has been grappling with the question of economic redress to achieve equity in the economy. Redress policies such as affirmative action have been implemented broadly in the market place and equity of access has been furthered in education, including broad-based black economic empowerment for equity in business shareholding. However, redress policies with their use of racial quotas have received less support from the white population and are often seen to be anti-reconciliation (Wale, 2013). Thus racial redress continues to be among the top political and social polarising issues in South Africa.

If anything, racial redress policies highlight the deeply entrenched and socially embedded economic inequality in South Africa. Mogues and Carter (2004) argue that where inequality is socially embedded along characteristics such as race, ethnicity, language, gender, etc. the threat for social conflict is heightened. It is critical therefore that reconciliation agenda in South Africa address the tough and urgent question of economic justice. Wale (2013) has argued for a radical reconciliation that is cognisant of the relationship between reconciliation, inequality and exclusion. It is well known that South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world and 20 years of democracy has not significantly improved the material conditions of the majority of black South Africans. Income inequality is disproportionately high in South Africa, and the country holds a long-standing record of the highest levels of earning inequality in the world (Branson et al, 2012).

Racial redress policies the South African government have been successful in creating a small burgeoning black middle class. However, the majority of black South Africans are still economically excluded (Murray et al. 2010; Wale 2013). Public opinion data from the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) show that a majority of South Africans are feeling a great deal of material deprivation, and consider economic inequality as the biggest source of social division (Wale, 2013). It is even more concerning that heightened frustration with material conditions has given rise to high levels of protests and labour strikes that have increasingly become violent (Alexander, 2000).

At the same time, social distance between the different racial groups has not improved in significant ways. The SARB measures interracial contact and finds that interaction across racial lines is happening but between the small middle and upper classes of South African society (Wale, 2013). This is likely due to integrated workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods with the rise of the black middle class.  Social contact theory posits that contact is important to strengthen social ties between groups and to restrain prejudices and stereotypes (Gibson and Claassen, 2010). Social mobility therefore seems to be correlated to increase in interracial contact. This suggests that transforming power relations has an important contribution to racial reconciliation. The inverse is also true that those on the bottom of the economic scale are likely to feel socially alienated (Mogues and Carter, 2004) and ultimately disengage entirely from the process of reconciliation.


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Citizenship education for Africans in South Africa (1948-1994): A critical discourse



Johannes Seroto

Educational Foundations Dept University of South Africa (UNISA)




The paper presents a critical discussion of the provision of citizenship education for Africans in South Africa during the period 1948-1994. A conceptual analysis of Johnson and Morris' critical citizenship framework and its four dimensions, namely, ideology, the collective, self and praxis, is presented. Utilising this framework, the author examines the goals and aims of the former National Party government in their project to provide citizenship education through history, social science and civics teaching in schools for African students. The study suggests that the goal of the state in promoting citizenship education during the former political dispensation as seen through the four dimensions did not create space for critical thinking and dialogue, crucial elements for critical citizenship education. Recommendations with regard to the form and content of citizenship education in future are made.

Keywords: Citizenship; Citizenship education; Critical citizenship education; Critical thinking; Curriculum.




The promotion of 'critical citizenship' has become a fundamental and crucial area of the state's social responsibilities. The modern state faces the imperative to establish and maintain an authentic, free and democratic society, while ensuring that critical thinking is cardinal in society. Citizenship education in South Africa is not immune from this challenge. Mathebula (2009:81) argues that even though South Africa has established a democracy, the question of citizenship remains at the crossroads and "is stretched and pulled in different directions". The post-apartheid government is striving to mould a new kind of citizen and a new democratic nation that can move beyond the racist policies of the past and which is governed by virtues such as respect for individual worth, fairness and justice. Certainly there is a prevailing need to re-conceptualise citizenship education in South Africa from a critical perspective.

A comprehensive discussion about critical thinking within this limited space is not feasible; however, I will provide a brief overview of some key issues and definitions in the debates surrounding critical thinking and operationalise the term for this study. Critical thinking has been a dominant element of social studies education for the past four decades or more (Beyer, 2008; Engle & Ochoa, 1988; Newmann, 1991). Scholars hold diverse views about critical thinking (Bailin, Case, Coombs & Daniels, 1999; Beyer, 1985; Walters, 1994). McLaren (1994) argues that thinking is multi-discursive, located in socio-cultural, economic and political contexts and inherently ideological. For the purpose of this study, critical thinking is understood as a form of critical social practice (Koh, 2002). Critical thinking is viewed as a culturally and historically situated critical social practice (Street, 2003). Segall and Gaudelli (2007) argue that social critical thinking means that students can challenge taken-for-granted meanings and suppositions, questioning how knowledge is constructed and used. They can also interrogate issues of power, justice, identity and the ways content and practices are shaped by different ideologies. Students can go to the extent of making informed conclusions about certain content and practices that are advantaged and/or disadvantaged by the current ideology of schooling, and that certain views are privileged while others are marginalised. Questions relating to education, such as, who makes curricular decisions, how and why these decisions are made, and whose interests these decisions represent and who benefits at the end, may be posed. The curricula of history and social studies should be used to inform decisions about the content of education. An investigation of the inclusion of critical thinking in citizenship education in the pre-democratic era in South Africa is important as the findings of such an inquiry should inform what should be included in post-democratic citizenship education (Engle & Ochoa, 1988).


What is citizenship education?

Lagassé (2000) defines a citizen as a person who lives in a nation state and has certain rights and privileges as well as several obligations to the state, such as allegiance to government. Citizenship is a symbiotic relationship between the state and the citizen. Crick (2008:126) contends that the type of citizen who is valued by society is defined in terms of the nature of his/her relationship with the government. Galston (1989) further categorises citizens into what he calls the 'autarchic' and the 'autonomous' citizen. Instead, McLaughlin (1992:245) distinguishes between 'minimal' and 'maximal' citizenship. The autarchic or minimal citizen is basically obedient to government, whereas the maximal citizen is actively involved in questioning and has achieved a critical perspective on all important factors (McLaughlin, 1992:236, 242). The autarchic citizen is 'law abiding' and 'public spirited' but can be characterised by limited 'rational deliberation and self-determination' (McLaughlin, 1992:236). Koopmans, Statham, Giugni and Passy (2005:7) agree with Galston and McLaughlin when they state that a set of rights, duties and identities link citizens to the nation-state. From the definition of different types of leadership provided by Westheimer and Kahne (2004) and Veugelers (2007) on minimal/maximal types of citizenship, three categories of citizens are evident. They are: adapting citizens (with good manners, obedient and act responsibly); individualistic citizens (participate in society from an individualistic perspective); and critical democratic citizens (concerned for social justice, cooperative and motivated to change society). Staeheli and Hammett (2010:671) contend that citizenship should not just be seen as status constructed to reflect universal ideals, but it should also be seen in relation to political, economic and social processes that operate within particular temporal and geographical contexts.

The concept of citizenship education is complex and ambiguous. It has been reviewed and debated in recent literature. In most instances the context within which citizenship notions have been defined has changed tremendously, especially during the 21st century. The term citizenship education is habitually characterised by the use of various terminologies used to describe social and political education. Kerr (2000:209) uses the minimal/maximal model to distinguish between civic education (education for the minimal citizen) and citizenship education (education for the maximal citizen). According to Davies and Issit (2005:389), civic education is the provision of information about formal public institutions. Marshall (1964) argues that the civil aspect of citizenship should offer citizens individual rights, such as, equality before the law, freedom of speech and the right to own property.

Starkey (2002:5) propagates a holistic approach to defining the concepts of citizenship and citizenship education. DeJaeghere (2006:307) suggests a need to introduce a 'critical approach' towards defining and understanding citizenship education. The aim of adopting a critical approach is "to provide the conditions for collective social change through a combined focus on knowledge and participation" (DeJaeghere & Tudball, 2007:49). DeJaeghere and Tudball (2007:51) maintain that including the critical approach in citizenship education will bring in a new perspective in developing students' sense of subjectivity or the 'self'. According to Giroux (1983), education should be used to form sound character and advocate 'emancipatory' rationality.

I use the critical citizenship education model propagated by Johnson and Morris (2010), which is grounded in critical thinking, as an underlying theoretical framework for this study. The four distinguishing elements of Johnson and Morris's critical citizenship education framework are: a concern for ideology rather than abstract logic; a collective (social) focus rather than an individualistic one; a context-driven (subjective) rather than contextneutral (objective) frame of reference; and a drive towards praxis (reflection and action) in addition to the development of knowledge and skills (see Table 1).



The critical citizenship frame of reference presented by Johnson and Morris (2010) is appropriate to evaluate the type of citizenship education that is provided in any country because the terminology that is used (namely, politics; social and collective; subjectivity and praxis) is well associated with the one used in curriculum studies. Just like any other theoretical framework, Johnson and Morris's framework has limitations (see De Lissovoy, 2008). These limitations may be addressed, partly by reinterpretations of literature on citizenship education in future.


Research problem

Citizenship education, in one way or the other, is linked with the process of state formation and the inculcation of patriotism and loyalty to the state. Curriculum issues in South Africa during the colonial period were linked to the educational activities of the early white colonists and the missionaries. The educational agenda during the different historical epochs prior to 1948 became a hybrid of politics and evangelicalism (Myers & Myers 1990). A comprehensive and careful examination of historical events in South Africa can provide a clear picture of how the attitudes of a group of people can develop and be applied in an organised way to the benefit of the dominant social institutions. Citizenship or civic education, as an aspect of the curriculum, has been used in a variety of ways to promote an autarchic type of a citizen. Using the conception of critical citizenship, discussed above, this study therefore addresses the following questions:

  • How were South African citizens conceived by the government during the period 1948-1994?
  • What were the goals promoted in the citizenship curriculum?
  • How were the elements of critical thinking, according to Johnson and Morris, implemented in the curriculum for citizenship education during the period 1948-1994?


Aim of the study

The focus in this article is on how citizenship education was used by the powers that be those in power (the former National Party government) and the ways state power was used to manipulate and (mis)use citizenship education in an endeavour to create passive, individualistic and uncritical citizens who would suit the former government's agenda of domination and subjugation. The critical citizenship education model of Johnson and Morris is used to analyse citizenship education in South Africa during the National Party government rule (1948-1994).


Research methodology

The nature of the field research undertaken for the purpose of this article was qualitative. The study is theoretical and interpretative and does not follow a positivist approach. Holosko (2006:12) articulates that qualitative research is "concerned with understanding the meaning of human experience from the subject's own frame of reference'. The Johnson and Morris framework is used to analyse the following citizenship curricula documents: The Report of the Commission on the Native Education (Union of South Africa, 1951); The Department of Native Affairs policy documents (1956a and 1956b); Department of Native Affairs policy document of 1957 and Department of Bantu Education policy document of 1967.


Citizenship in South Africa: A brief historical background

Although this paper focuses on the period 1948-1994, a brief and selective overview is given of the colonial and Union period in order to provide the context for the ensuing exposition. The history of formal education in South Africa can be traced to the 1600s. During the Dutch settlement after 1652 there was little activity with regard to the provision of education to South Africans, since the Dutch East Indian Company's focus was on trade. The education that was provided during the Dutch settlement by the missionaries in particular was enough to meet the needs of the colonists. The principal aim of citizenship or civics education was designed in such a way that it aimed at the inculcation of personal moral virtues which had Christian Protestantism as its underlying philosophy. In 1804, Governor JA De Mist introduced secular or liberal control of education at the Cape Colony. The aim of introducing secular education was to ensure that adequate civic education produced good citizens (Sabine, 1960:490). In 1910, the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal and the Free State were united to form the Union of South Africa. However, the Union remained a British colony and missionaries continued to play a major role in the formulation, control and determination of the scope and limits of African education (Christie 2006:67). Mission encounters did not only examine the process of religious or cultural encounters, but it sought to refine the relationship of missions to the politics of colonial society. Notion of citizenship that prevailed during the Union government period was one that encouraged adapting types of citizens who had good manners, were obedient and could act responsibly. The second group was individualistic citizens. Citizens were regarded as legal members of the state and had rights and obligations to the state. In practice, citizens did not participate in the political system in any meaningful way (Banks 2008:136). A series of segregation policies in the form of a legislative act, which removed and restricted the rights of certain cultural groups in every possible way - politically, economically, socially and geographically - was evidence of the type of citizens the state wanted to produce. Geographical segregation became an institutionalised occurrence with the majority of Africans especially those situated in the rural areas of South Africa. The 1913 and 1936 Land Acts are two examples of legislation adopted by the Union government which segregated Africans and limited them in their rights as full citizens of South Africa. The 1913 Land Act adopted the principle that certain portions of land should be reserved exclusively for occupation by Africans. It not only set aside areas as reserves, but also prohibited Africans from buying land outside these defined territories. In total, 13, 7% of the total area of South Africa was demarcated as reserved land for occupational use by Africans only (Union of South Africa, 1955:44-46) and was situated within areas defined as "rural", including parts of the former Natal, Transkei and Ciskei (Joyce, 1989 sv "Natives' Land Act, The 1913"). The state was seen as a tool in the hands of a more politically influential sector, which used it to advance a specific group's interests. The government was not prepared to accept any integration with the Africans, and wanted to maintain the principle of white supremacy in white areas. Africans were to become geographically and socially segregated by the ruling colonial group. Economic intermingling was, however, to take on varied forms, depending on the particular needs of the more politically influential sectors within the dominant white group. In this case, citizenship, as a status, was more rooted in a legislative framework. This type of citizenship, which was characterised by a differentiated conception of citizenship, did not encourage marginalised groups to attain civic equality. The Land Act of 1913 laid the basis of a 'South African citizenship' that was later permeated by racism, that is, a systematic process of discrimination based on one's race or colour. The total area designated as reserves by means of the 1913 Land Act was later found to be too small and more land for the settlement of Africans was made available through the promulgation of the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936. This Act provided for a trust fund for the acquisition of an additional 6, 2-million hectares of land for incorporation into what would later be called "bantustans or homelands" (Union of South Africa, 1936:98).

In 1948, the National Party government under the leadership of Dr DF Malan took power. The National Party immediately began to accelerate and implement its policy of 'separate development', instilling and cementing a differentiated conception of citizenship by establishing a series of segregationist legislative Acts of Parliament which enforced the segregation of Africans and white people in different areas. The rationale behind the introduction of these laws was that Africans had their own traditional territories where they should enjoy citizenship and the vote. Two such Acts which ensured that this philosophy was carried out were the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 and the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959. The introduction of "bantustan" policy was a deliberate constitutional plan of government to ensure that Africans were granted citizenship and civil rights in their own "homelands" or "bantustans". The National Party government persistently upheld the myth that there was a separate African society and a separate African economy as advocated by the then Minister of Native Affairs, Dr HF Verwoerd (cf. Hansard, 1954, col 2619).

In the following section, I will attempt to show how citizenship education evolved in the period 1948-1994, using Johnson and Morris's critical citizenship model. An analysis of curriculum, especially with reference to the subjects of history, social science or civics as documented in different government policies of the Nationalist Party regime, is presented.


Results and discussions

Citizenship education during the National Party government (1948-1994)

The ensuing discussion of citizenship education has been analysed according to four main elements of Johnson and Morris's theoretical framework, namely, politics/ideology, social/collective, self/subjectivity and praxis/engagement. In 1957 social studies and history were introduced by the Department of Bantu Education as compulsory and examinable subjects at lower and upper primary school level for African students. As integrated subjects they included elements of geography, history, economics and politics, and focused on local, regional, national, and to a limited extent, international issues. Two subjects, namely history and social studies from grades 1-7 in the curricula mentioned above, have been analysed.


This aspect pertains to the knowledge and understanding of oppressions and injustices, and not just political ideology. According to Johnson and Morris (2010), students should be able to actively engage in political discourse and seek clarity on injustices that occur in society. However, the grades 1-7 history and social science curriculum only dealt with the political ideology underpinned by the government separate development theory and there was no section in the curriculum dealing with injustices or oppressions as experienced by South Africans. As early as grade 3, children were taught how certain historical factors brought about the migration of different peoples to South Africa, and how these factors, in conjunction with the conditions in South Africa, influenced their development as "separate groups" (Department of Native Affairs, 1956a; 1956b; Department of Bantu Education, 1967). The curriculum failed to open a space or create possibilities for teachers to explore the government's political ideology of separate development nor to question oppressive laws that might have been in place or justification for injustices that prevailed in South Africa. The main focus of curriculum materials was on the positive contribution by the state, churches and welfare organisations to the development of Africans.

Knowledge of South African society and its structures as a whole was not prioritised (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:66). The exposure of learners to the knowledge and understanding of macrostructures that existed globally was limited; the focus was on local government structures. For example, from grades 3-6 citizenship education dealt with the home, town and village. From grades 3-4 local structures, such as, tribal organisations and government, local government and Bantu Authorities (homelands) were introduced. Curriculum documents did not deal with learners' development of knowledge and understanding of power structures. No academic space was created for teachers and learners to explore and debate elements of the establishment of government structures, respect for government institutions, loyalty, independence, open-mindedness and work ethic.

Critical citizenship must also open room for engagement with ideological principles. Engagement with ideological principles in the curriculum documents for citizenship education was distorted and ambiguous. The Report of the Commission on Native Education reported on different social problems in the education system (Union of South Africa, 1951: par 248264). The Report did not provide clear and workable recommendations on how the social problems were to be addressed. The curriculum for Africans that the National Party government adopted was basically in accordance with the recommendations made by the Report of the Commission on Native Education and one would have expected the Commission to voice possible solutions to social problems. In the grade 3 citizenship education curriculum, the following is mentioned: "The following topics shall be dealt with in the light of principles and traditions which have been accepted by the Bantu..." (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:62). The statement did not elaborate comprehensively on the values from which these principles were derived and therefore it made sure that the engagement with policy issues became superfluous. One would assume that those principles referred to Africans exclusively in a rural community belonging to homelands.

Although a few ideological issues were raised, the curriculum was designed to direct students and teachers' thinking in a particular direction. In the history curriculum, economic issues, such as, the effects of mining, commerce and industry on the life of the Africans and the contribution of the state towards the African people were raised (Department of Bantu Education, 1967: 66). How students were expected to engage with the challenges raised was not detailed. Students were not given an opportunity to investigate deeper causalities about the economic factors. Doors to question the provision of state services were closed as the state did not want to create the opportunity to be challenged on their key performance areas. Students were encouraged to focus on other school related issues, namely, water conservation or working in industry (Department of Bantu Education, 1967). Galston (1991:221-224) postulates that responsible citizenship requires the capacity to discern and respect the rights of others and to evaluate the performance of those in office and the willingness to engage in public discourse. Critical thinking was not regarded as a core element of citizenship education at this time.

Through its citizenship education, government propagated knowledge and understanding of only immediate communities. For example, grade 3 learners were to learn about their immediate societies - different ethnic groups, the white settlers, and only sketchy histories about international communities. The focus was on respect for authority and fellowmen. Dahrendorf (1994:17) argues that "citizenship is never complete until it is world citizenship". There is some evidence that promoting ideas about global citizenship actually reinforces nationalism in students (Roman 2003). Global communities form an integral part of every society and affect our beliefs, norms, values and behaviours, as well as business and trade. Every citizen, including the youth, should develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills that will enable them to interact and associate with the global world (Banks 2004).


This aspect of the Johnson and Morris model focuses on dialogue, cooperation and on the ways in which learners are encouraged to explore alternative values and identities. This aspect also includes the "wholeness" of citizenship education (Johnson & Morris, 2011:10). Fisher (2008:195) argues that collectivism and a "community of enquiry" help students to "build their capacity to become active and effective citizens". Citizenship education for Africans during National Party rule was grounded on the mainstream ideas and values of the state's segregationist and racial policy, which in one way or the other discouraged the notion of the "collective". One of the aims of the curriculum for African schooling during the period under review was that:

The [old] curriculum ... and educational practice, by ignoring the segregation or 'apartheid' policy, was unable to prepare for service within the Bantu community. By blindly producing pupils trained on a European model, the vain hope was created among Natives that they could occupy posts within the European community despite the country's policy of 'apartheid'. This is what is meant by the creation of unhealthy 'White collar ideals' and the causation of widespread frustration among the so-called educated Natives (Union of South Africa, 1954).

Non-streaming ideas and values in citizenship education are not mentioned during the period under review. Mainstream citizenship, which is grounded in mainstream knowledge and assumptions and which is underpinned by the status quo and the dominant power relationships in society, is evident throughout the provision of citizenship education in the subjects, social science and history. No reference was made to other external or outside sources except the policies or laws of the country. For example, in the grade 6 civic section, students were referred to South African institutions, such as, the Department of Bantu Education Administration and Development, Bantu Education, Justice Health, and Agricultural Technical Services "with emphasis on officers who deal directly with the Bantu" (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:70). There was little room for the curriculum for citizenship to promote a diversity of views. The only voice, which was vocal, was that of the dominant communities in relation to the ethnic groups.

Further, citizenship education in South Africa was deficient in promoting dialogue. It did not encourage deviation of opinions. When the social studies curriculum was published in 1956, it was stated that the social studies syllabus was oriented economically and socially with the aim to develop social consciousness and a feeling of responsibility in the African child (Department of Native Affairs, 1956b:81). The social studies curriculum further stated that the factual knowledge of the content, that is social science, would have value only when connected to the realisation that the African child is a member of a particular community and he/she should not have other factual knowledges. The state did not encourage open dialogue with other knowledges. In the grade 6 history curriculum, teachers were to reflect on the primitive nature of indigenous and how their early indigenous medicine and medical practices caused death, injury, pain and sickness (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:69). In this instance a particular type of medical practices were promoted whereas the indigenous medical practices were mentioned. The curriculum did not allow for critical discourse and debate on the topic.

The history curriculum for grade 4 stated that the aim of teaching South African history was that the identified topics (i.e., early inhabitants of the Cape; the migration of Africans to Southern Africa; the Dutch East India Company; the wreck of the Harlem; the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck), which had little to do with the actual history of indigenous peoples, was to "explain to the pupils . how certain historical and geographical factors have brought about the migration of different peoples to this country, and how these factors, in conjunction with the conditions in South Africa, have influenced their development as separate groups of the population" (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:62). History teaching had little to do with the promotion of dialogue to create critical thinkers.

The teaching of religious education, which was dominated by Calvinism, was taught at the higher primary school level and formed part of citizenship education. Religious studies reinforced a curriculum which was defined in terms of ethnic, religious or cultural identities. Emphasis on religion or Christianity and ethnic cultures lessened the possibility of allowing students and teachers to engage with other religions, such as Hinduism or Judaism. Awosulu (1993) and Metziebi, Domite and Osakwe (1996) argue that the school curriculum should be designed in such a way that it promotes national unity, religious tolerance and cultural integration.

Citizenship education during the National Party government did not allow for dialogue in terms of challenging and engaging ideologies, such as colonialism, apartheid and egalitarianism. The curriculum for history and social science did not mention inequalities and injustices which arose from 1652 after the first white settlers arrived at the Cape. In higher grades the focus was on confrontations among the indigenous people and, in some instances, between the white colonists and the indigenous peoples. Citizenship education failed to promote tolerance, respect for others and the combating of all other forms of discrimination (Schoeman, 2006).


According to Johnson and Morris, this aspect of critical citizenship education has to do with the area of 'self' including emotions, feelings, introspection, positivity and realism as manifested in citizenship education programmes. Emotional feelings are an integral part of citizenship education. Opportunities should be created for students and teachers to associate with their own emotional discourses. Citizenship education should help students articulate their emotions and feelings with the aim of re-directing their emotional and moral dispositions in practising their human rights (Elias et al, 1997; Goleman, 1995; Weare, 2004). Citizenship education between 1948 and 1994 reflected elements of African's legal identity. Grade 5 learners were expected to know about identity issues, such as, the importance of the "personal reference book" and how and why it is used (Department of Native Affairs, 1956b:107). Other forms of identity dealt with included aspects relating to how students were bound to their families through birth, marriage, age and group (Department of Bantu Education, 1957: 64). Citizenship education as included in the history curriculum did not reflect on the students' ability to understand their multiple and complex identities and how they were affected by the outside world. Instead, the curriculum focused on a notion of narrow identities which were confined to a particular ethnic environment. Ajegbo (2007:7) contends:

Issues of identity and diversity are more often than not neglected in citizenship education. When these issues are referred to, coverage is often unsatisfactory and lacks contextual depth.

The history or social science curriculum in all grades did not demonstrate emotive language. The curriculum did not engage learners in human rights issues, which are crucial for young people to relate to their own emotional identities. By providing the chance to engage in emotional dialogue, students would have been given the opportunity to engage in critical reflection about their emotions and identities in a non-judgmental and non-discriminatory environment. Pilar Aguilera (2010:12) posits that one important field of the citizenship curriculum "is the development of attitudes that underpin students' emotional dispositions and motivations for social responsibility and active participation".


The aspect of engagement, according to Johnson and Morris, focuses on the relationship between knowledge, reflection and action. Giroux (2003:28) argues that engagement calls for a coalition between theory and practice and not a situation in which one is absorbed by the other. Citizenship education provided by the state focused on theory. In the opening statement in the citizenship education section for higher primary school learners, the following is mentioned:

The following topics should be dealt with in the light of principles and traditions which have been accepted by the Bantu as well as by other peoples in the country for inculcation of good habits of courtesy and character - the child's duties, privileges and responsibilities in (a) the home, (b) the town or village and (c) the school (Department of Bantu Education, 1967:62).

The statement above emphasises theory or the existing principles. Throughout the history and social science curriculum in both the lower and higher primary schools, nothing is mentioned about the practical component of citizenship education. The curriculum did allow for learners to reflect on issues, such as, the formation of good habits of courtesy and character. The 'how' part of the curriculum was not adequately addressed in curriculum documents. Instead emphasis was placed on theory, that is, the inculcation of the subject matter. Banks (2008:136) mentions that citizenship education (which is transformative in nature) should involve civic actions designed to actualise values and moral principles and ideals beyond those of existing laws and conventions. He emphasises that citizenship should promote social justice even when the actions of the citizens violate, challenge, or dismantle existing laws or structures.

Citizenship education curriculum documents are very clear on the ideological discourse which promotes discrimination and oppression. During this period, however, 'facts' were prescribed throughout the citizenship education programmes for Africans and there was no exploration of relationships between knowledge, reflection and action. How the knowledge acquired through citizenship education can effect systematic change was not mentioned. The authorities chose to project an optimistic picture about government affairs, while in essence its actions could have been interpreted as a fascia for hegemonic expression (Aronowitz & Giroux 1986). Allowing for reflection on what was taught about citizenship education would have given teachers and students an opportunity to reconstruct their world based on what they had learnt. DeJaeghere (2007) argues that reconstructing one's world based on the acquired knowledge fosters critical thinking skills.


From the foregoing discussion the following findings emerged:

The government during the period 1948-1994 denied full citizenship rights to ethnic groups in South Africa and citizenship education evolved to reflect the historical development of the times. Citizenship education during the National Party government did not strive to make citizens capable of contributing meaningfully to the whole development of their country. Different pieces of legislation promulgated by the state promoted segregation, which continued to be embedded in citizenship curriculum. The aim of government was to educate students to it into the government's "separate development" conception of subjugation, thus becoming 'good citizens'. The essence of citizenship was broadly grounded upon the development of white citizens and black subjects. These ideals were evident in the government's education projects, embedded in a curriculum which sought to balance the need to 'civilise' the 'non-white' populations with the necessity to maintain separate and superior 'white' identity and privilege (Keto, 1990).

Citizenship education promoted ethnocentrism and individualism instead of fostering the spirit of nationalism. Government did not promote critical citizenship. Many of the elements contained in the curriculum required teachers to adhere only to curriculum content and refrain from discussing any form of segregation or oppression with students. Values such as equality, liberty, justice and tolerance did not form part of the citizenship education curriculum. Citizenship education was reduced to a mere transmission of historical and civic related facts. However, students should have been engaged in a critical discourse, not just the definition and memorisation of government structures.

A critical observation of the entire curriculum is that the government wanted to translate its intentions and ideologies into an institutional expression in the school where students would be taught basic values and ideals that would make them passive citizens. However, it is highly impractical to endeavour to erode the role that memory and history played in South Africa. Citizenship education programmes/subjects cannot simply wipe away the memory of conflict and oppression that prevailed in divided societies. Instead, citizenship programmes should create space for critical dialogue.

Recommendations for citizenship education programmes

On the basis of the research findings, the following recommendations are made:

  • It is recommended that future governments include diversity across the whole curriculum and/or grades and establish a sequence of learning outcomes which will develop students' critical citizenship knowledge. Students should have opportunities to study the past, not just in outline but also in depth, covering different societies and periods of history from ancient times to the modern day. The knowledge provided in each grade should foster civic skills and dispositions. An interdisciplinary approach and a more integrated whole-school design, where teachers, professionals and administrators are involved, should be developed and adopted. These different stakeholders should ensure that learners develop critical citizenship skills and dispositions.
  • Citizenship content should include the following: civic knowledge regarding such items as history (including histories of indigenous people), how government works, the Constitution, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Citizenship education should also deal with skills development, problem solving skills, debating and dialogue on current issues. Attitudes such as a belief in liberty, equality, personal responsibility and honesty should be included in the content material.
  • Citizenship curriculum should contain teaching strategies that include instruction in a variety of topics, such as government, law, history and democracy. Provision must be made for learners to discuss relevant current events and be able to engage with the 'outside the classroom' world. Provision should be made for the use of fieldwork, first-hand experience and secondary sources to find out about a range of places and environments. These environments should include learners' own localities, as well as localities in other countries. It is imperative that learners explore views and opinions about local and global issues including but not limited to education for sustainability, climate change and poverty. Learners should also be able to develop and extend local and global links through collaboration.
  • Modern technology can be used to make the teaching of citizenship education interesting. Instructional tools such as interrogating databases of information about historical documents and using maps and charts, can be used to promote critical thinking.



This article has analysed the citizenship curriculum for African during the period 1948-1994 in South Africa, using the four dimensions of Johnson and Morris' critical citizenship education model. The curriculum was analysed in terms of politics; society and interaction; the self; and reflection, action, engagement and possibility. It was found that the previous government's citizenship curriculum failed to promote critical thinking. For citizenship education and programmes to be meaningful, especially in the democratic era, the four dimensions of the model are crucial as they provide a better means through which critical citizenship education can be implemented in schools. This framework is crucial to sustain a young democracy, such as South Africa, which has been and continues to be characterised by realities of social divisions.



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