Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://etd.cput.ac.za/handle/20.500.11838/3155
Title: Citizenship in South African schools: a study of four high schools in the Western Cape
Authors: Singh, Marcina 
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Abstract: This thesis emerged from the need to understand conceptions and experiences of citizenship more than 25 years after ushering in a new democracy in South Africa. According to Soudien, Sayed and Pillay (2015), understandings of citizenship identity in South Africa rest on the precarious edge of a socially fragmented, racist past and a more humanising, inclusive vision of a new democratic dispensation. This renewal of interest in citizenship also arises against the backdrop of rising inequality, distrust in political institutions, and dwindling political participation in the country. Given this, this study investigates students’ and teachers’ understandings of citizenship and how the values of citizenship are practiced in schools. Investigating notions of citizenship in schools is important as schools and “schooling is recognized as a key means by which young people are educated for citizenship”, both through the formal and informal curriculum (Osler & Starkey, 2005). This study employed an interpretivist, mixed-methods, case study approach. The research was conducted at four schools in the Western Cape, South Africa, and each school represents one case study. Disa High is a Quintile 1 school situated in a rural context; Protea High is a Quintile 5 school situated in a rural context; Lily High is a Quintile 1 school situated in an urban context; and Strelitzia High is a Quintile 5 school situated in an urban context. A total of 643 Grade 10 students, eight teachers, and three headmasters participated in the study. The findings of the study suggest several things. First, while there is a difference in understandings of citizenship between students and teachers, conceptions of citizenship in South Africa remain raced and classed more than 25 years after ushering in democracy in South Africa. Second, each of the four schools struggled, albeit differently, to practice the values of citizenship. At Protea High, the Christian religious ethos of the school led to feelings of exclusion and alienation of students who subscribed to other religions. At Disa High and Strelitzia High, the poor student-teacher relationships led to some students either leaving the school or being verbally humiliated by teachers. At Lily High, students grappled with incidents of xenophobia and the effects of poverty. Third, policies intended to address inequities of the past have not been fully translated into practice. In this study, schools that were marginalised during apartheid still largely remain so. This is particularly evident in the manner in which the schools are capacitated with regard to teaching and learning resources and other school infrastructure. This study argues that inequalities in the provision of education in public schools persist; that teacher professional development and school curriculum impact on students’ and teachers’ understanding and experiences of citizenship in schools. Furthermore, the study argues that the poor realisation of citizenship may lead to a fractured sense of national identity and political alienation. This study is important because few studies in South Africa and Africa have investigated understandings of citizenship, particularly in a rural and urban high school context. The study also contributes to understandings of citizenship in terms of rights, responsibilities, and belonging. It further contributes to the knowledge about how class and racialised groups impacts understandings of citizenship in South Africa and how contexts shape experiences of citizenship. The study also adds insight about the gap between policies about citizenship and how it is realised in practice. The conceptual framework developed in this study which combines the work of various theorists ((Marshall, 1950; Westheimer & Kahne, 2004; Yuval-Davis, 2006; Feu et al., 2017), allows for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of citizenship in South African schools. The framework is also transferable to other contexts. This study demonstrates that schools in South Africa remain unequal spaces and that the lived realities of students and teachers are influenced by the historical legacy, limiting the full realisation of citizenship.
Description: Thesis (DTech (Education))--Cape Peninsula University of Technology, 2020
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11838/3155
Appears in Collections:Education - Doctoral Degrees

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