Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0041-475120100001&lang=en vol. 50 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>The liberal welfare state</b>: <b>democracy or meritocracy?</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Pogings om die liberale welsynstaat te hervorm skyn futiel te wees. Wat nodig is, is 'n afskeid van die terapeutiese model en 'n rehabilitasie van die gemeenskap-gesentreerde benadering. Kliënte van die dienste-industrie moet weer aktiewe burgers word. Die terapeutiese ideologie met sy onderliggende etiek van medelye plaas te veel klem op die beweerde tekortkominge van kliënte. Daarby misken dit die moontlikheid dat hierdie sogenaamde kliënte 'n betekenisvolle bydrae kan lewer tot die samelewing. Inteendeel, dit institusionaliseer ongelykheid terwyl dit voorgee dat iedereen op sy of haar manier "spesiaal" is. Verder het dit gelei tot die ontwrigting van die gemeenskapslewe en die opkoms van 'n "slagoffer-kultus" wat gekenmerk word deur 'n politiek van haatdraendheid en ressentiment. Onder sulke omstandighede kan 'n demokrasie nie oorleef nie. 'n Ware demokrasie moet hom verset teen die idee van dubbele standaarde, want dit is 'n stellige resep vir tweedeklas burgerskap. Daar moet voortdurend gepoog word om die algemene peil van alle burgers se vermoëns en vaardighede te verhoog, eerder as om steeds meer en meer vermoëns te institusionaliseer en toe te wys aan professionele deskundiges wat hulleself aanmatig om die lewens van andere te "begelei" en te "bestuur". In hierdie verband kan ons veel gaan leer van die tradisie van die populisme met sy kenmerkende waardering vir waardes soos selfstandigheid en onafhanklikheid, sy respek vir vlytigheid en hardwerkendheid, sy egalitêre afkeer van verskanste posisies van bevoorregting, sy aandrang op eenvoudige, verstaanbare taalgebruik en om mense verantwoordelik te hou vir hulle dade. 'n Etiek van respek - as alternatief vir die etiek van medelye wat onderliggend is aan die welsynstaat - behoort voort te bou op hierdie en ander elemente van die populistiese tradisie.<hr/>The advent of the modern welfare state witnessed the rise of a powerful new elite - the "New Class" (Alvin Gouldner), i.e. the class of professional experts and managers. Their investment in education and information, as opposed to property, distinguishes them from the rich bourgeoisie and the old proprietary class. The rise of this new elite has basically led to a new form of meritocracy, which constitutes a real danger to democracy. This new elite's overriding interest is to secure their own position of power and influence and to escape from the common lot - the very definition of meritocratic success. The meritocratic tendency of the current welfare state can be traced back to the triumph of the therapeutic approach to society, which forms the cornerstone of the new class ideology. This ideology views the well-being of individuals as growing from an environment composed of professionals and their services. It envisions a world where there is a professional to meet every need and where the fee to secure each professional service is a right. This vision is epigrammatically expressed by those who see the ultimate liberty as "the right to treatment". The definition of social problems in therapeutic or medical terms creates the condition for a process where individuals become second rate citizens, permanently excluded from mainstream society and degraded to the inferior position of being "clients" or dependants. No matter how many resources and "services" these people are "entitled" to receive - in the last instance nothing can compensate for this humiliation which they are made to suffer. The therapeutic ideology naturally has a political function. It serves to legitimatise the power that new class professionals and managers exercise. In the words of Christopher Lasch: "The power to label people deficient and declare them in need is the basic tool of control and oppression in modern industrialized societies. The agents with comprehensive labelling power in these societies are the helping professionals. Their badge bestows the caring authority to declare fellow citizens 'clients' - a class of deficient people in need." Efforts to reform the liberal welfare state would appear to be futile. What is needed is a departure from the therapeutic model and the rehabilitation of a community centred approach. Clients of the service industry should become active citizens again. The therapeutic ideology, along with its underlying ethics of compassion, places too much emphasis on the alleged deficits of clients. It thereby overlooks the possibility that these so-called clients can make a meaningful contribution to society. The professionalisation of compassion has not resulted in a kinder, gentler society. Instead it institutionalises inequality, under the pretence that everybody is "special" in his/her own way. Furthermore, it has led to the disruption of community life and the rise of a "cult of the victim" along with its politics of hate and resentment. Under such circumstances democracy cannot survive. A true democracy should always resist the idea of double standards, which is a sure recipe for second rate citizenship. There should be a constant effort to raise the general level of all citizens' competences and abilities, instead of being content to institutionalise competence in the caring class, which arrogates to itself the job of looking out for everybody else. In this regard we can learn much from the tradition of populism with its appreciation for values such as self-reliance and independence, its respect for honesty and hard work, its egalitarian opposition to entrenched privilege, its insistence on plain speech and on holding people accountable for their actions. An ethics of respect - as an alternative to the ethics of compassion which underlies the welfare state - should build from these and other elements of the populist tradition. <![CDATA[<b>Older women's subjective experience of loneliness</b>: <b>applying the Mmogo- method<sup>TM</sup></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Loneliness is a threat to quality of life and indicates a poor prognosis during aging. A qualitative, phenomenological study among white Afrikaans-speaking older women was conducted to explore their experience of loneliness. The research was undertaken at a service centre for elderly persons where cognitively sound older women voluntarily participated in the research. Fifteen women were purposefully selected to obtain their experience of loneliness via their own visual projections (the Mmogo methodTM), a focus group discussion, individual interviews, as well as personal journal entries. The Mmogo methodTM provides valuable information about socially constructed aspects that are often difficult to verbalise. Various guidelines were followed to ensure the trustworthiness of the study, such as triangulation of data, member checking, an extended period in the field and the inclusion of rich descriptions. Two central themes emerged from the thematic data analysis, being causes of loneliness (including multiple losses at a personal level as well as interpersonal losses; changed family relations and a downsized living world) and strategies to deal with loneliness (such as the actualising of religion, reminiscing on the past, an active involvement in life and denial). The most important finding of this research is that older white Afrikaans speaking women experience an intimate loss of the "self" because their identity is strongly associated with the specific roles and functions defined by the socio-cultural context in which they were socialised. These functions and roles emphasised the ultimate authority of the man. Women did not develop an independent identity that could continue once the prescribed traditional roles no longer applied. Practical steps are suggested in order to support elderly women to process the multiple losses, to question socially acceptable roles and functions of women, and to create independent interests. Further studies could possibly be extended to older women in other cultures. <![CDATA[<b>On the status of "oe" in Afrikaans</b>: <b>an acoustic analysis</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Die hoofvraag wat in hierdie eksperimentele ondersoek aan die orde is, is of die Afrikaanse /u/vokaal (geskryf "oe") inderdaad 'n hoë agtervokaal (d.i. kardinale vokaal Nommer 8 op die artikulatoriese vokaalkaart) is soos wat dit tradisioneel, en ook in 'n enkele onlangse akoestiese beskrywing van Van der Merwe, Groenewald, Van Aardt, Tesner en Grimbeek (1993) beskryf word. Eie waarneming van 'n sterk ontronding daarvan word hier opgevolg deur uitgebreide akoestiese ondersoeke, aangevul deur persepsietoetse. Die spraak van 19 Afrikaanssprekende jongmense van verskillende dele van die land is ontleed en die resultate is statisties verwerk. Dit blyk dat die tweede vokaalformant, F2, wat primêr 'n aanduider is van die mate van ronding van agtervokale soos /u/, oorweldigend wys op 'n sterk skuif weg van die buiterand van die artikulatoriese vokaalruimte na binne. Die feit dat dit egter nie ook na onder skuif nie (soos blyk uit die stabiele eersteformantwaardes in byna alle metings), dus steeds 'n hoë vokaal bly, en nie /@/-agtig word nie, kan geneem word as argument teen die moontlikheid dat dit hier om gewone akoestiese reduksie gaan. Die genoemde akoestiese resultate word gevind in byna alle omstandighede wat ondersoek is, dit wil sê eksterne en interne kontekste. Dit geld nie net geslag van die deelnemers aan die eksperiment nie (vrouens ontrond beduidend meer as mans), maar ook die mate waarin die vokaal benadruk word (sekondêr benadrukte woorde is meer sensitief vir ontronding), die mate van frekwensie van gebruik van die individuele woorde (ontronding word meer aangetref in woorde wat baie frekwent gebruik word), die tipe stimuli (vokale ontrond meer in sinne), sillabestruktuur (oop sillabes is meer gevoelig vir ontronding). Leestempo is meer ingewikkeld, en toon nie op 'n eenvoudige wyse sodanige verskille nie. Betreffende plek van vorming van die konsonant volgende op die vokaal is die situasie nog meer ingewikkeld. Dit word wel gevind dat hierdie faktor 'n invloed kan hê, byvoorbeeld dat slot-/l/ soms 'n teenwerkende invloed in sommige woorde het op ontronding. Die hoofklasse konsonante in artikulatoriese terme, labiaal, alveolêr en velêr, verskil ook slegs in bepaalde gevalle van mekaar wat betref die uitwerking wat hulle het op die voorafgaande vokaal. Verskeie persepsietoetse toon aan dat Afrikaansluisteraars dikwels groot moeite het met die interpretering van woorde waarvan die vokaal bedoel wat as /u/; dit word in sulke gevalle in gedwonge luistertoetse geïnterpreteer as /i/, wat sterk ondersteunend is vir die resultate van die akoestiese metinge in hierdie ondersoek as sou /u/ nie (meer) 'n (hoë) agtervokaal wees nie. Hoewel moeilik om presies te karakteriseer, lyk dit wel asof dit kan of moet deurgaan as 'n hoë, ontronde agtervokaal. Tyd sal leer of Afrikaanse /u/ permanent van kwaliteit tot die hoë, ongeronde vokaal /U/ sal verander. Daar is vlugtig aandag gegee aan die implikasies wat hierdie studie het vir spraaktegnologiese toepassings, asook in algemeen-taalwetenskaplike opsig vir die aansprake van die dispersieteorie.<hr/>The main aim of this experimental investigation was to establish the precise nature of the Afrikaans vowel /u/. Traditionally it was characterised as a short, high back vowel, situated in the uppermost right corner of the articulatory vowel chart, known as cardinal vowel number 8. Van der Merwe, Groenewald, Van Aardt, Tesner and Grimbeek (1993), the only detailed study of this kind up to date, reported acoustical measurements to be much in line with the following: F1 = 266 Hz; F2 = 961 Hz. For some versions of American English similar measurements are known, for example in the monumental study of Peterson and Barney (1952), but more recent studies show a tendency of fronting (Hagiwara 1997). Bekker (2009) describes the same for the speech of some young, South African female speakers. In all the above-mentioned studies, F2 values are indicative of such fronting process, while F1 seems to be relatively unaffected. Careful listening to the pronunciation of this vowel by a wide variety of Afrikaans speaking persons has led to this experiment. Such speakers include those of both genders, students from a variety of geographical origin, participants to radio and television broadcasts and the like. Fronting of /u/ is seemingly present in many cases, justifying this study. The present acoustical production experiment comprised the collection and analysis of the speech of nineteen Afrikaans persons (six of them male). They read two sets of stimuli (a word list and a number of sentences) two times each, once at a normal tempo, once at a fast rate. The word list was made up of 25 words, while there were ten natural sentences in the other set. All of these contained words including the /u/-vowel. Vowels were segmented and annotated in the Praat program, and consequently all relevant acoustic parameters, of which the most important being the first two vowel formants, were extracted and imported into the statistics program Statistica. Following a process of normalisation of the measurements, analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were performed with respect to a number of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors, for example emphasis (stress and sentence accent), syllable structure, place of articulation of consonants following the focus vowel, stimulus material, reading tempo, and frequency of use of words. Results clearly show a salient degree of /u/ fronting in the production of all participants, especially those of female speakers. Support in favour of the characterisation of this vowel as a fronted high vowel comes from a variety of specific acoustic measurements, but also from perception evidence. As to the former aspect, it is evident from the dominant F2 movement away from the outer borders of the acoustic (and, consequently, articulation) vowel space in the direction of the centre thereof. It should, however, be noted that this inner movement is not accompanied by a simultaneous downward movement (indicated by F1 readings) of similar extent. Such movement would indicate a process of normal neutralisation instead. With respect to perception, participants in the listening tests frequently interpreted /u/ as /i/ (e.g. sien instead of soen), but never as schwa /@/ (as in sin). As to the independent variables, the results show a robust fronting of the /u/ vowel in almost all of those involved in this study. Generally, vowels in words with a high frequency tend to front significantly more than those in words with a low frequency, as does secondary emphasised vowels in contrast to primary emphasised ones; vowels in sentences rather than in the list of words displayed the same, as did vowels in open syllables. Only reading tempo did not show this tendency. No difference was found as to degree of fronting between slow versus fast reading - both did, nonetheless, exhibit fronting on a significant scale. Interestingly, place of articulation turned out to be quite complicated. The main classes of consonants following the focus vowel /u/ demonstrated a diverse pattern as to the degree of fronting influence. As to /l/, fronting did not occur in some instances, but in others fronting surpassed that in words with following non-/l/ consonants. This stands in contrast to some South African English (reported by Bekker 2009). Per implication he claims fronting /l/-effect on preceding /u/ to be a steady feature. On the grounds of the results of the experiments reported here, it seems as if Afrikaans is on its way to a change in vowel quality of the high, back front vowel /u/ to its unrounded fronted counterpart /U/. Initial observations suggest a similar trend of fronting of the Cardinal Vowel 7 /o/ (as in groot), which is the other (mid-) high, back, rounded Afrikaans vowel. Implications are touched upon for speech technological applications as well as for the dispersion theory of vowel distribution in vowel space. <![CDATA[<b>Dollarisation as economic solution for the Zimbabwean demise</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Die ekonomiese en politieke verval van Zimbabwe duur reeds langer as 'n dekade en versleg toenemend. Weghol-hiperinflasie van ondenkbare afmetings, 'n werkloosheidskoers van bykans honderd persent en 'n verpletterde geldeenheid met letterlik geen eksterne waarde of aansien nie, kenmerk hierdie verval. Die katastrofiese afmetings van die volhardende sosio-ekonomiese en politieke tragedie dui op 'n nog bleker toekomsprentjie vir die land indien die huidige politieke onderhandeling nie beslissend aangepak word nie. Daar bestaan geen kits politieke of ekonomiese oplossing vir hierdie weersinwekkende situasie nie, maar ekonomiese herstel moet immers met sekere basiese ekonomiese hervorming stappe begin. Hierdie artikel stel dollarisering voor as 'n alternatiewe wisselkoers stelsel waarmee die ekonomiese wanorde wat tans die ekonomiese toneel kenmerk, opgeruim kan word. Dit verduidelik die term "dollarisering", die eienskappe daarvan sowel as die onderliggende rasionaal van die regime as 'n supervaste wisselkoersstelsel vir Zimbabwe. Daarna word die moontlike voor- en nadele van so 'n stelsel vir Zimbabwe uitgelig, gepaardgaande met 'n bespreking van randarisering as 'n moontlike alternatiewe oplossing. Dollarisering word as 'n moontlike oplossing vir Zimbabwe aanbeveel, maar randarisering kan ook met versigtigheid oorweeg word. Hoewel dollarisering op sigself sal help, sal dit nie 'n kitsoplossing vir die Zimbabwiese verval bied nie. Dit sal nie die huidige ramp oplos tensy dit deur ander wydlopende en geloofwaardige politieke en ekonomiese hervormings vergesel word nie.<hr/>The Zimbabwean economic and political malaise has been going on for longer than a decade and has deteriorated unabated. Runaway hyperinflation reaching unthinkable proportions, an almost hundred percent unemployment rate and a shattered currency with literally no external value or esteem characterise this demise. Fiscal profligacy funded by an ever increasing fiscal deficit has played its part in this socio-economic tragedy. This state of affairs would not have been possible if the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had fulfilled its role as protector of the nation's currency. Sadly, the Bank slavishly accommodated the government's request for printing more money and did not render any sign of independence from government as a respected central bank should have done. As in many other cases of hyperinflation, this weakness provided the basis from which the evolving tragedy gained momentum. The gigantic proportions of the continuous socio-economic and political tragedy predict an even bleaker future for the country if not attended to in a decisive way. No instant political or economic solution exists for this appalling situation, but economic restoration has to start with certain basic steps of economic reform. This paper suggests official dollarisation as an alternative exchange rate regime with which to clear up the economic disorder that currently characterises the economic scene. The paper explains the term "dollarisation", its features and the underlying rationale of the regime as a super-fixed exchange rate system for Zimbabwe. Thereafter the possible advantages and disadvantages that Zimbabwe can obtain from the system are highlighted, accompanied by a brief discussion on randisation as a possible alternative solution. Especially important among the advantages is the fact that dollarisation will help to restore the lost credibility of the Zimbabwean policy-makers since it will now be imported externally from an anchor country and its currency. This will not only substantially decrease the inflation and interest rates, but it will also contribute to promoting saving, investment, economic growth and employment. It will, furthermore, stabilise the dysfunctional Zimbabwean credit system, enhance long term lending contracts and correct the misallocation of resources caused by hyperinflation. These benefits must be balanced by certain costs of dollarisation, especially the loss of seigniorage income, the loss of monetary autonomy and national pride, as well as the loss of the lender-of-last-resort-function of the central bank. However, in the case of Zimbabwe these costs are found to be thoroughly overshadowed by the benefits derived from dollarisation. In addition, the Zimbabwean situation and the current stance of its economy actually fit the prerequisites for a country that should seriously contemplate dollarisation. Although dollarisation is supported as a possible solution for Zimbabwe, randisation may also work but will have to be considered with care. South Africa is indeed the biggest trading partner of Zimbabwe and also has deep financial ties with the latter. Nevertheless, the volatility in the exchange rate of the rand and the possibility of loan default on South African loans to Zimbabwe are risks in need of contemplation. Another, but less credible policy alternative for Zimbabwe, is to adopt a currency board arrangement where the exchange rate of the Zimdollar is not only firmly fixed to the South African rand, but also fully (100 per cent) covered by rand reserves as a back-up measure of credibility. Yet, under the current circumstances dollarisation presents itself as a more likely system with which to obtain rapid and trustworthy results. Although dollarisation on its own will certainly help, it will not pose a "quick-fix" for the Zimbabwean demise. Dollarisation can not compensate for corruption, disruptions in the social structure and a lack of transparency in the political and economic system. Furthermore, it can not compensate for a lack of human prudence in decision-making, a lack of protection of property rights and the absence of a rule of law. The latter aspects require fundamental and credible reforms on the political and juridical front, without which no economic rescue package will have any success whatsoever. <![CDATA[<b>Sustainability reporting in the mining sector</b>: <b>identifying critical issues</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Hierdie studie ondersoek tendense in die volhoubaarheidsverslaggewing deur vyf prominente mynmaatskappye wat op die JSE genoteer is. Die 2005-, 2006-, 2007- en 2008- jaar- en volhoubaarheidsverslae van hierdie maatskappye is ontleed deur middel van inhoudsanalise. Sleutelwoorde wat verband hou met ekonomiese bemagtiging, MIV/VIGS, ander gesondheid- en veiligheidsaangeleenthede en omgewingsimpak sowel as opleiding en onderwys, is getel. Hierdie aangeleenthede is ook gekategoriseer in terme van Carroll (1979; 1991) se korporatiewe sosiale verantwoordelikheids- (KSV) piramide wat bestaan uit ekonomiese, regs-, etiese en filantropiese verantwoordelikhede. Hierdie bevindinge het aangedui dat mynmaatskappye hoofsaaklik verslag lewer oor KSV-aangeleenthede wat hul winsgewendheid beïnvloed soos MIV/VIGS en ander gesondheidsverwante aangeleenthede. Daar word aanbeveel dat mynmaatskappye 'n meer gebalanseerde beskouing van die verskeie KSV-kategorieë huldig, ongeag die spesifi eke kategorie se impak op winsgewendheid. Mynmaatskappye moet spesifiek hul pogings vermeerder (en verslaggewing fokus) op swart ekonomiese bemagtiging, opleiding en onderwys en werkverwante sterftes. Dit mag aanvanklik duur wees, maar kan bydra tot winsgewendheid op die lange duur. Dit sal ook mynmaatskappye se reputasie verbeter by belanghebbendes soos beleggers en verbruikers, wat maatskappye na waarde skat volgens die mate waartoe hulle hul etiese en filantropiese verantwoordelikhede nakom.<hr/>This study investigates trends with regard to sustainability reporting by five prominent mining companies listed on the JSE. The 2005 to 2008 annual and sustainability reports of these companies were analysed by means of content analysis. Keywords relating to economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS, other health and safety issues, environmental impact as well as training and education were counted. These issues were also categorised in terms of Carroll's (1979; 1991) corporate social responsibility (CSR) pyramid, which consists of economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities. Although the total number of pages dedicated to CSR issues increased in four of the sample companies over the period 2005 to 2008, the keywords-per-page-ratio has decreased or remained constant for all of them. In 2008 Anglo Platinum had the highest keywords-per-page-ratio (1.03) followed by AngloGold Ashanti (1.01), Harmony Gold Mining Company (0.88), Gold Fields (0.86) and DRDGold (0.53). DRDGold's low keywords-per-page-ratio could be a result of its comparatively smaller size and its non-compliance with the GRI's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The most important CSR issues reported on by mining companies in all four years were that of HIV/AIDS as well as other health and safety issues. The fact that these CSR issues ranked first and second respectively can be attributed to the direct costs they inflict on the mining companies' profi ts. This finding makes intuitive sense as companies need to take care of those CSR issues that impact on their bottom line before they can redistribute earnings to meet other ethical and philanthropic responsibilities. Given the adverse impact that mining companies have on the natural environment it is not surprising to note the relatively low importance given to these issues in the companies' annual and sustainability reports. And it certainly is not a case of "no news is good news". It is also worrying that CSR issues relating to training and education have such a low overall priority as one would expect that trained employees would be more productive and hence have a positive impact on profitability. It is, however, encouraging that CSR issues relating to training and education have received more attention in the companies' annual and sustainability reports in the course of the evaluation period. The increased reporting on economic empowerment issues could be indicative of the fact that mining companies are starting to go beyond the letter of the law by better communicating their efforts in this regard to their stakeholders. DRDGold had the highest percentage of CSR keywords reported on in four of the six CSR categories in 2005 and in two of six categories in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Closer inspection, however, reveals that its CSR reporting is not balanced as close to 80 percent of its CSR reporting focuses on HIV/AIDS and other health and safety issues. DRDGold is the smallest mining company in the sample and does not subscribe to the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. It does not publish a separate sustainability report and had the lowest overall CSR keyword-per-page ratio. This finding points to the fact that stakeholders need to look beyond the glossy pages of companies' sustainability reports when evaluating CSR performance. It also confirms that sustainability reports are often written to portray companies in the best possible light, especially when it comes to promoting their CSR initiatives. In this case "more information" does not necessarily translate into "better information". The local mining sector cannot ignore the importance of CSR issues as doing so might risk them becoming ostracised by stakeholders. In recent years institutional investors across the globe and in South Africa have become more critical in terms of their portfolio selection criteria and ownership policies. More investors are considering environmental, social and corporate governance issues as they are recognising the adverse impact that these risk factors can have on the future profitability if left unmanaged by investee companies. Four out of the fi ve mining companies evaluated in this study were constituents of the FTSE/JSE Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) index in 2008. DRDGold was the only company not to feature in the index. Although participation in the index is voluntary, it does, however, show that a company is committed to improving its CSR standing. Participation in the index is thus strongly recommended. As in the case of investors, consumers and consumer groups across the globe are also becoming more concerned about CSR issues. By including local communities into mining activities, mining companies can contribute towards the well-being of the communities by means of training, education and employment. Due to their size, mining companies are increasingly expected to make positive contributions to society. From the results of this study, it seems as if CSR issues that impact on the economic performance of a company (the foundation of Carroll's CSR pyramid) are given top priority with those that have a lesser economic impact following thereafter. This results in CSR issues such as HIV/AIDS as well as other health and safety issues being the main focus, whereas issues relating to economic empowerment hardly feature in the reports. Despite being emphasised (to the extent of ranking second in issues attended to) in annual and sustainability reports, health issues other than HIV/AIDS (such as silicosis, tuberculosis and noise-induced hearing loss) and safety issues (such as work-related fatalities) are sorely in need of proper attention. This should not be done merely to reach the deadlines set at the Mine Health and Safety Council Summit, but should also feature as an expression of these companies' commitment to good corporate citizenship. So far not enough has been achieved to reach these deadlines as many rock falls continue to be regularly reported by the media. It is recommended that mining companies take a more balanced view of the various CSR categories regardless of the specific category's impact on profitability. Mining companies should specifically increase their efforts (and focus of reporting) on broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), training and education and work-related fatalities. This might prove costly at first, but might prove profitable once considerable investments have been made in these areas. It will also improve their standing with internal and external stakeholders who value companies meeting their ethical and philanthropic responsibilities. <![CDATA[<b>Student teachers' interpretation and use of learning theory concepts</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Hierdie artikel rapporteer oor 'n ondersoek na die wyses waarop student-onderwysers konsepte verstaan, uitbou, en gebruik. Konsepvorming en -interpretasie is 'n belangrike leeruitkoms in hoër onderwys in die algemeen en in onderwysersopleiding in die besonder. 'n Goeie begrip van die ontwikkeling van konsepvorming en die praktykmaking daarvan is van kardinale belang vir onderwysersopleiding, veral vanweë die uitdagings rondom 'n verantwoordbare pedagogiek wat leerbillikheid en -gelykheid as fundamenteel-etiese verantwoordelikheid voorop stel. Vir so 'n konseptuele basis is dit noodsaaklik dat universiteitsdosente kennis dra van die integrasie, interpretasie en praktykmaking van konsepte in die konteks van die modules wat hulle aanbied. 'n Beter begrip van konsepvorming kan nie alleen leerdoeltreffendheid verbeter nie, maar ook bydra tot die ideale van 'n billikheidspedagogiek waar die leerbehoeftes van alle studente in ag geneem word. Die studie is onderneem binne 'n tweede studiejaarmodule in onderwysersopleiding aan 'n tersiêre instansie met die fokus op leer en kognisie. Vergelykende gevallestudies van vier studente is onderneem ten opsigte van die wyses waarop verskillende studente in 'n voorgraadse module konsepte oor leerteorieë leer en gebruik. Die kwalitatiewe, sosio-semiotiese ontleding toon aan dat sodanige kennis grootliks ooreenstem met modulemateriaal, dat studente verskil in hulle gebruik van semiotiese instrumente in die aanleer daarvan, dat konsepkennis tekstueel verskillend gekommunikeer word, en dat laasgenoemde deur sosiale konvensies medebepaal word. Hierdie ondersoek belig die dimensies van leer as 'n sosio-semiotiese proses en dui op die implikasies vir 'n billikheidspedagogiek in tersiêre leeromgewings.<hr/>This article focuses on how students in one specific undergraduate training module in an undergraduate teacher education qualification present their conceptual understanding of and learning in textual format. This investigation is grounded in the cognitive flexibility theory of Spiro and co-workers. This theory is regarded as meaningful in analyses of student learning and extends the more traditional views of constructivist learning such as Piaget's explication of the processes of assimilation and accommodation, as well as the theories on conceptual change to the challenges of learning in complex and weakly structured knowledge domains requiring problem solving. Construction of knowledge in real life is thus more than the act of merely recalling previous knowledge and its applications. Flexibility in the use of knowledge is therefore encouraged as every learning situation differs and, for that reason, requires the flexible use of previous knowledge. Socio-cultural perspectives on student learning are also valuable for the purpose of this investigation as they postulate that learning and meaning occur anew within each knowledge domain and situation context. Student learning is also considered from eco-social and semiotic perspectives. Semiotics is the study of signs and sign systems and what they contribute to the process of constructing knowledge and meaning. Semiotic tools investigated in this article include all aspects of human sign creation and usage. Learning texts developed by learners are also regarded as the reality of meaning for them and are influenced by social and cultural activities. Furthermore, the manner and pattern in which signs are created and creatively used by learners are related to the underlying social rules, meanings and contexts accompanying the use of signs as internalised and used by learners. The conventions of tertiary academic studies as semiotic field, which especially includes the custom of expecting from students to communicate their knowledge of concepts in writing, is also regarded as part of social events and as such, part of an interactive process of knowledge and meaning creation. Student learning is therefore considered as a process where students make use of certain semiotic instruments and sign systems to present their knowledge and interpretation. These knowledge constructions are co-determined by the semiotic domain as well as by the textual formats in which students present their knowledge. A purposive selection of four undergraduate education students according to gender, vernacular and area of specialisation was made from an initial group of students who had voluntarily taken part in a study on study team learning in a second study year undergraduate module in Teacher Education. A comparative case study of these students was undertaken. Data were collected by way of an open-ended concept clarification questionnaire as well as an assessed module assignment, answers to a module test, and module learning journals. Analyses focused on students' content interpretation of specific concepts studied in the module, how students' understanding and knowledge of these concepts were formed, as well as the semiotic instruments they employed to construct their knowledge, and how these were presented in textual formats. In addition, the data were analysed in terms of the conventions of the discourse in the particular academic domain. The findings of the investigation indicated that students' textual presentation of their knowledge and interpretation of specific learning theory concepts largely agree with the module material; that students differed in their use of semiotic instruments to construct knowledge of learning theory concepts; that discourse practices used by students to communicate their knowledge textually differed; and that the textual communication of concept knowledge in the context of students' area of specialisation was largely co-determined by the social conventions of the academic domain. Noticeable differences between selected students related to content profundity; extension and expansion of interpretations; the unique images and metaphors that illustrated the concepts; integration and application to specific situations of practice in specialisations; variation in language codes ranging from personal agency to a more objective code; the degree to which conceptual learning is presented as self-identification and relational identity; and the social conventions of the domain Education in higher education. <![CDATA[<b>The interactive approach to reading instruction</b>: <b>an alternative to traditional ways of teaching reading</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Volgens onlangse verslae het minder as 10% van alle graad 6-leerders in Suid-Afrika wat die geletterdheidstoetse afgelê het, op 'n internasionaal aanvaarbare vlak presteer (WCED 2009). Kenners is van mening dat hierdie resultate daarop dui dat ons nie gehalte-onderwys in ons skole toepas nie (Bloch 2009). Volgens navorsers begin die probleem in die grondslagfase waar leerders nie die nodige vaardighede van geletterdheid baasraak nie (Jansen 2008; Yeld 2009). In hierdie artikel word gefokus op een van die moontlike oorsake vir die agteruitgang van geletterdheid in Suid-Afrika ten spyte van die Onderwysdepartement se talle pogings om die situasie te verbeter: die wyse waarop onderwysers¹ lees onderrig. Daar sal gevolglik gefokus word op onderwysers se metodiek in leesonderrig aangesien daar rede is om te glo dat die tradisionele manier van leesonderrig steeds in die meeste skole geld. Die artikel sal van die standpunt uitgaan dat onderwysers hul denke oor leesonderrig sal moet verander. 'n Raamwerk vir die onderrig van lees volgens die skema-teorie-model asook die rol van die onderwyser daarin word beskryf. Dit word gevolg deur 'n bespreking van die tradisionele manier van leesonderrig volgens die bottom-up en top-down- benaderings. As alternatief vir die tradisionele bottom-up of top-down-benaderings word die interaktiewe benadering voorgestel, asook hoe dit onderrig en assesseer moet word. Die skrywer kom tot die slotsom dat met behulp van die interaktiewe model ons wel die prestasie van sukkelende lesers kan verbeter (Albright & Luke 2008).<hr/>Recent literacy results show that only 15% of all grade 3 learners and less than 10% of all grade 6 learners performed at an appropriate level (WCED 2009). According to education specialists the results of these tests show that we do not practise quality teaching (Bloch 2009). Many researchers argue that the problem starts in the foundation phase where learners fail to acquire the basic skills in literacy (Jansen 2008; Yeld 2009). This article wil focus on one of the possible reasons for the deterioration of literacy in South Africa despite considerable efforts by die Education Department to rectify the situation. The didactics used by teachers when teaching reading will be investigated as we believe that this aspect is one of the main reasons for the poor literacy results. Focus will be placed on the methodologies used by teachers in most schools, as it is believed that they rely mainly on the traditional approach of teaching reading. The article will argue that teachers need to change the way they think about teaching reading. The methodologies of teaching reading and the role of the teacher in this process will be described in a framework according to the schema-model. This is followed by a discussion of the traditional way of teaching reading according to the bottom-up and the top-down approaches. As opposed to the traditional bottom-up or top-down approaches an interactive approach is recommended. The article also gives a framework of what learners should be taught and assessed on within the interactive model. Although individual teachers can inspire their students to great achievements, the needs of the nation's huge number of poor readers call for systemic change. Low levels of adolescent literacy is not a problem that can be solved in isolation with some extra tutoring or supplementary programmes for those unable to read well - it will take a concerted nationwide policy and an execution thereof that reaches deep into districts and the instructional practices of teachers across the curriculum. Change must occur at the classroom level, as well as at the school, district and government levels. It is only through both a change in perspective - by looking for new ways to teach reading - and a change in practice - where all teachers regard themselves as reading teachers - that we will be able to make a sustained difference in the lives of struggling readers. The paper concludes therefore that with the interactive model we can improve the performance of most struggling readers (Albright & Luke 2008). <![CDATA[<b>The perception of higher education students of the influence of their gap year experiences on their personal development</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In hierdie artikel word daar gerapporteer oor 'n aantal hoëronderwysstudente se persepsies oor die voor- en nadele van 'n wegbreekjaar en die invloed daarvan op hul persoonlike ontwikkeling. 'n Wegbreekjaar word beskryf as 'n tydperk wat wissel van 3 tot 24 maande wat "afgeneem" word tydens enige stadium van 'n mens se lewe om 'n verskeidenheid van aktiwiteite uit te voer. Dit kan vrywillige of betaalde werk plaaslik of oorsee behels. 'n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gevolg. Data is versamel deur middel van 25 individuele, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude wat gevoer is met hoëronderwysstudente wat 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het voordat hulle met hul universiteitsopleiding begin het. Dit blyk uit die bevindings dat studente op die volgende drie maniere by 'n wegbreekjaar kan baat: hulle ervaar persoonlike groei en ontwikkel 'n aantal lewensvaardighede tydens 'n wegbreekjaar, hul interpersoonlike en kommunikasievaardighede verbeter en hulle ontwikkel 'n breër siening van en 'n beter perspektief op die lewe. Alhoewel daar 'n toename was in die aantal Suid-Afrikaners wat die afgelope dekade en 'n half 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het, is daar in Suid-Afrika nog baie min wetenskaplike navorsing gedoen oor hierdie groep jongmense se ervarings.<hr/>This article reports on a number of higher education students' perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year, and the effect of a gap year on their personal development. A gap year can be described as taking "time out" during any stage of one's life in order to undertake any of a number of activities. It may involve various combinations of paid and voluntary work locally or overseas, but in some instances a gap year is spent travelling, doing an adventure course or a course in self-development. Sometimes young people devote a gap year to religious studies or activities. A gap year is usually taken before entering a higher education institution, between college/university and starting a career, or even before making a career change. It may last from three months to a year, but is often extended to two years and in some instances even continue for longer periods. This article deals only with the gap year students take immediately after their final school year, before entering a higher education institution. Matriculants mainly decide to take a gap year because they are uncertain about whether (and what) they want to study, want to earn money or simply want to take a break from studying. In this research project a qualitative approach was followed. To gather data, the researcher conducted 25 individual, semi-structured interviews with higher education students who had taken a gap year before entering university. The questions that were asked dealt inter alia with the reason why they took a gap year; what they did during their gap year; how the gap year influenced their social and academic adjustment at university; what life skills they acquired during their gap year; what they regard as the advantages and disadvantages of a gap year; what problems or challenges they experienced; and what the gap year meant for their personal development. Follow-up questions were asked when necessary. The findings identified a range of benefits enjoyed by students as the result of a gap year. These benefi ts can be divided into the following three categories: (1) They experience personal growth and develop a number of life skills during a gap year. This category can be subdivided into the following subcategories: growing up quickly; acquiring greater independence, responsibility and self-confidence; gaining life and work experience, self-knowledge and a better perspective on the future; learning to persevere, to work with money, to treat freedom with responsibility; and learning how to handle difficult situations in everyday life and in the workplace.(2) Their interpersonal and communication skills improve. These include making new acquaintances; improving interpersonal relationship and communication skills; and learning how to handle conflict in the workplace. (3) They acquire a broader world-view and a better perspective on life. Because they are confronted with the realities of life they gain a more objective perspective on life and learn to understand other cultures better. The investigation also revealed a number of disadvantages of a gap year. Gap year students have fallen behind their peer group and will start earning money at a later age. It takes time to adjust to academic studies after a year of non-academic activities. Many young people do not utilise their gap year to gain valuable experience and struggle to fi nd their feet afterwards. Although there has been an increase in the gap-year phenomenon over the past decade, very little scientific research has previously been done on South African students' experiences of a gap year. <![CDATA[<b>Ons ongehoorde soort: beskouings oor die Werk van Antjie Krog - Louise Viljoen</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In hierdie artikel word daar gerapporteer oor 'n aantal hoëronderwysstudente se persepsies oor die voor- en nadele van 'n wegbreekjaar en die invloed daarvan op hul persoonlike ontwikkeling. 'n Wegbreekjaar word beskryf as 'n tydperk wat wissel van 3 tot 24 maande wat "afgeneem" word tydens enige stadium van 'n mens se lewe om 'n verskeidenheid van aktiwiteite uit te voer. Dit kan vrywillige of betaalde werk plaaslik of oorsee behels. 'n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gevolg. Data is versamel deur middel van 25 individuele, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude wat gevoer is met hoëronderwysstudente wat 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het voordat hulle met hul universiteitsopleiding begin het. Dit blyk uit die bevindings dat studente op die volgende drie maniere by 'n wegbreekjaar kan baat: hulle ervaar persoonlike groei en ontwikkel 'n aantal lewensvaardighede tydens 'n wegbreekjaar, hul interpersoonlike en kommunikasievaardighede verbeter en hulle ontwikkel 'n breër siening van en 'n beter perspektief op die lewe. Alhoewel daar 'n toename was in die aantal Suid-Afrikaners wat die afgelope dekade en 'n half 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het, is daar in Suid-Afrika nog baie min wetenskaplike navorsing gedoen oor hierdie groep jongmense se ervarings.<hr/>This article reports on a number of higher education students' perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year, and the effect of a gap year on their personal development. A gap year can be described as taking "time out" during any stage of one's life in order to undertake any of a number of activities. It may involve various combinations of paid and voluntary work locally or overseas, but in some instances a gap year is spent travelling, doing an adventure course or a course in self-development. Sometimes young people devote a gap year to religious studies or activities. A gap year is usually taken before entering a higher education institution, between college/university and starting a career, or even before making a career change. It may last from three months to a year, but is often extended to two years and in some instances even continue for longer periods. This article deals only with the gap year students take immediately after their final school year, before entering a higher education institution. Matriculants mainly decide to take a gap year because they are uncertain about whether (and what) they want to study, want to earn money or simply want to take a break from studying. In this research project a qualitative approach was followed. To gather data, the researcher conducted 25 individual, semi-structured interviews with higher education students who had taken a gap year before entering university. The questions that were asked dealt inter alia with the reason why they took a gap year; what they did during their gap year; how the gap year influenced their social and academic adjustment at university; what life skills they acquired during their gap year; what they regard as the advantages and disadvantages of a gap year; what problems or challenges they experienced; and what the gap year meant for their personal development. Follow-up questions were asked when necessary. The findings identified a range of benefits enjoyed by students as the result of a gap year. These benefi ts can be divided into the following three categories: (1) They experience personal growth and develop a number of life skills during a gap year. This category can be subdivided into the following subcategories: growing up quickly; acquiring greater independence, responsibility and self-confidence; gaining life and work experience, self-knowledge and a better perspective on the future; learning to persevere, to work with money, to treat freedom with responsibility; and learning how to handle difficult situations in everyday life and in the workplace.(2) Their interpersonal and communication skills improve. These include making new acquaintances; improving interpersonal relationship and communication skills; and learning how to handle conflict in the workplace. (3) They acquire a broader world-view and a better perspective on life. Because they are confronted with the realities of life they gain a more objective perspective on life and learn to understand other cultures better. The investigation also revealed a number of disadvantages of a gap year. Gap year students have fallen behind their peer group and will start earning money at a later age. It takes time to adjust to academic studies after a year of non-academic activities. Many young people do not utilise their gap year to gain valuable experience and struggle to fi nd their feet afterwards. Although there has been an increase in the gap-year phenomenon over the past decade, very little scientific research has previously been done on South African students' experiences of a gap year. <![CDATA[<b>At home in God's world: a transforming paradigm for being human and for social involvement - B J van der Walt</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In hierdie artikel word daar gerapporteer oor 'n aantal hoëronderwysstudente se persepsies oor die voor- en nadele van 'n wegbreekjaar en die invloed daarvan op hul persoonlike ontwikkeling. 'n Wegbreekjaar word beskryf as 'n tydperk wat wissel van 3 tot 24 maande wat "afgeneem" word tydens enige stadium van 'n mens se lewe om 'n verskeidenheid van aktiwiteite uit te voer. Dit kan vrywillige of betaalde werk plaaslik of oorsee behels. 'n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gevolg. Data is versamel deur middel van 25 individuele, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude wat gevoer is met hoëronderwysstudente wat 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het voordat hulle met hul universiteitsopleiding begin het. Dit blyk uit die bevindings dat studente op die volgende drie maniere by 'n wegbreekjaar kan baat: hulle ervaar persoonlike groei en ontwikkel 'n aantal lewensvaardighede tydens 'n wegbreekjaar, hul interpersoonlike en kommunikasievaardighede verbeter en hulle ontwikkel 'n breër siening van en 'n beter perspektief op die lewe. Alhoewel daar 'n toename was in die aantal Suid-Afrikaners wat die afgelope dekade en 'n half 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het, is daar in Suid-Afrika nog baie min wetenskaplike navorsing gedoen oor hierdie groep jongmense se ervarings.<hr/>This article reports on a number of higher education students' perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year, and the effect of a gap year on their personal development. A gap year can be described as taking "time out" during any stage of one's life in order to undertake any of a number of activities. It may involve various combinations of paid and voluntary work locally or overseas, but in some instances a gap year is spent travelling, doing an adventure course or a course in self-development. Sometimes young people devote a gap year to religious studies or activities. A gap year is usually taken before entering a higher education institution, between college/university and starting a career, or even before making a career change. It may last from three months to a year, but is often extended to two years and in some instances even continue for longer periods. This article deals only with the gap year students take immediately after their final school year, before entering a higher education institution. Matriculants mainly decide to take a gap year because they are uncertain about whether (and what) they want to study, want to earn money or simply want to take a break from studying. In this research project a qualitative approach was followed. To gather data, the researcher conducted 25 individual, semi-structured interviews with higher education students who had taken a gap year before entering university. The questions that were asked dealt inter alia with the reason why they took a gap year; what they did during their gap year; how the gap year influenced their social and academic adjustment at university; what life skills they acquired during their gap year; what they regard as the advantages and disadvantages of a gap year; what problems or challenges they experienced; and what the gap year meant for their personal development. Follow-up questions were asked when necessary. The findings identified a range of benefits enjoyed by students as the result of a gap year. These benefi ts can be divided into the following three categories: (1) They experience personal growth and develop a number of life skills during a gap year. This category can be subdivided into the following subcategories: growing up quickly; acquiring greater independence, responsibility and self-confidence; gaining life and work experience, self-knowledge and a better perspective on the future; learning to persevere, to work with money, to treat freedom with responsibility; and learning how to handle difficult situations in everyday life and in the workplace.(2) Their interpersonal and communication skills improve. These include making new acquaintances; improving interpersonal relationship and communication skills; and learning how to handle conflict in the workplace. (3) They acquire a broader world-view and a better perspective on life. Because they are confronted with the realities of life they gain a more objective perspective on life and learn to understand other cultures better. The investigation also revealed a number of disadvantages of a gap year. Gap year students have fallen behind their peer group and will start earning money at a later age. It takes time to adjust to academic studies after a year of non-academic activities. Many young people do not utilise their gap year to gain valuable experience and struggle to fi nd their feet afterwards. Although there has been an increase in the gap-year phenomenon over the past decade, very little scientific research has previously been done on South African students' experiences of a gap year. <![CDATA[<b>Hengelo is Afrika</b>: <b>de Afrikaanse literatuur in Nederland in 2009</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-47512010000100011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In hierdie artikel word daar gerapporteer oor 'n aantal hoëronderwysstudente se persepsies oor die voor- en nadele van 'n wegbreekjaar en die invloed daarvan op hul persoonlike ontwikkeling. 'n Wegbreekjaar word beskryf as 'n tydperk wat wissel van 3 tot 24 maande wat "afgeneem" word tydens enige stadium van 'n mens se lewe om 'n verskeidenheid van aktiwiteite uit te voer. Dit kan vrywillige of betaalde werk plaaslik of oorsee behels. 'n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gevolg. Data is versamel deur middel van 25 individuele, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude wat gevoer is met hoëronderwysstudente wat 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het voordat hulle met hul universiteitsopleiding begin het. Dit blyk uit die bevindings dat studente op die volgende drie maniere by 'n wegbreekjaar kan baat: hulle ervaar persoonlike groei en ontwikkel 'n aantal lewensvaardighede tydens 'n wegbreekjaar, hul interpersoonlike en kommunikasievaardighede verbeter en hulle ontwikkel 'n breër siening van en 'n beter perspektief op die lewe. Alhoewel daar 'n toename was in die aantal Suid-Afrikaners wat die afgelope dekade en 'n half 'n wegbreekjaar geneem het, is daar in Suid-Afrika nog baie min wetenskaplike navorsing gedoen oor hierdie groep jongmense se ervarings.<hr/>This article reports on a number of higher education students' perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year, and the effect of a gap year on their personal development. A gap year can be described as taking "time out" during any stage of one's life in order to undertake any of a number of activities. It may involve various combinations of paid and voluntary work locally or overseas, but in some instances a gap year is spent travelling, doing an adventure course or a course in self-development. Sometimes young people devote a gap year to religious studies or activities. A gap year is usually taken before entering a higher education institution, between college/university and starting a career, or even before making a career change. It may last from three months to a year, but is often extended to two years and in some instances even continue for longer periods. This article deals only with the gap year students take immediately after their final school year, before entering a higher education institution. Matriculants mainly decide to take a gap year because they are uncertain about whether (and what) they want to study, want to earn money or simply want to take a break from studying. In this research project a qualitative approach was followed. To gather data, the researcher conducted 25 individual, semi-structured interviews with higher education students who had taken a gap year before entering university. The questions that were asked dealt inter alia with the reason why they took a gap year; what they did during their gap year; how the gap year influenced their social and academic adjustment at university; what life skills they acquired during their gap year; what they regard as the advantages and disadvantages of a gap year; what problems or challenges they experienced; and what the gap year meant for their personal development. Follow-up questions were asked when necessary. The findings identified a range of benefits enjoyed by students as the result of a gap year. These benefi ts can be divided into the following three categories: (1) They experience personal growth and develop a number of life skills during a gap year. This category can be subdivided into the following subcategories: growing up quickly; acquiring greater independence, responsibility and self-confidence; gaining life and work experience, self-knowledge and a better perspective on the future; learning to persevere, to work with money, to treat freedom with responsibility; and learning how to handle difficult situations in everyday life and in the workplace.(2) Their interpersonal and communication skills improve. These include making new acquaintances; improving interpersonal relationship and communication skills; and learning how to handle conflict in the workplace. (3) They acquire a broader world-view and a better perspective on life. Because they are confronted with the realities of life they gain a more objective perspective on life and learn to understand other cultures better. The investigation also revealed a number of disadvantages of a gap year. Gap year students have fallen behind their peer group and will start earning money at a later age. It takes time to adjust to academic studies after a year of non-academic activities. Many young people do not utilise their gap year to gain valuable experience and struggle to fi nd their feet afterwards. Although there has been an increase in the gap-year phenomenon over the past decade, very little scientific research has previously been done on South African students' experiences of a gap year.