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Apartheid and the Socio-Political Context of Education in South Africa: A Narrative Account


by Mark Constas — 1997

Historically, education in South Africa formed an important part of the government’s plan to develop a racially segregated society. While there is a significant amount of research that describes the widespread problems of schooling in South Africa, there are few reports about the subjective qualities of education. The primary purpose of the present article is to provide a more personalized account of what it has meant to be educated as a student and to work as a teacher under the conditions of apartheid. In order to accomplish this objective, a life history approach was combined with an archival review to construct a narrative account of selected aspects of the education provided for black South Africans. Because of the long-standing political oppression of South Africa’s black population, it was considered important to develop such a record by listening to the voices of individuals who, as students, endured poor educational conditions only to find themselves, as teachers, practicing under circumstances that were largely unchanged. Within the life-history approach, interview data were obtained from two teachers, who attended schools and began their respective teaching careers during different periods of South Africa’s sociopolitical history. In order to contextualize the findings, the participants?experiences were considered in relation to selected elements of the legislative and political history of South Africa. The empirical result of the research is an historical description of education in South Africa, illustrated by the personal stories and professional experiences of two practicing teachers. The article concludes by considering the way in which selected theories of oppression and resistance explain or fail to explain the experiences of the two participants


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 98 Number 4, 1997, p. 682-720
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9598, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 6:37:05 AM

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  • Mark Constas
    University of Hong Kong

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