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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

DU PLESSIS, Elize  and  MARAIS, Petro. Reconciliation between learners: Are parallel-medium schools the answer to the problem of racism?. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.2-2, pp.614-626. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2017/v57n2-2a8.

The South African Constitution explicitly prohibits unfair discrimination on the grounds of race or sex. In our schools, this means that every learner in the country has a right to good education, a safe school environment and access to information, irrespective of his or her skin colour or sex. Mother tongue education in 11 official languages has proved to be a challenging matter. A possible solution to this challenge may be the introduction of only English and Afrikaans in parallel-medium schools, a possibility that should perhaps be investigated. One of the topical issues in our society is not so much realising equality by means of legislation (although the manner in which legislation attempts to achieve equality does indeed require further consideration), but rather how to overcome our various prejudices. For some of us, irrespective of race, the true meaning of equality remains something that eludes us (Kruger 2013). Will all schools become culturally and racially integrated? This is a question being raised by worried parents in South African schools since Prof Jonathan Jansen, former principal of the University of the Free State, suggested that English be made the primary medium of instruction in schools (Beeld 2 October 2013). According to Garner (2009) racism or racial discrimination refers to social, economic or political discrimination against a person (or group of persons) on the basis of cultural differences. It does not necessarily refer to hatred on the part of one race for another, but rather to exclusion from - or the refusal of - certain rights and privileges, as applied by the apartheid government for instance. Because of affirmative action, white people are often not appointed to available posts, even though they may be the best candidates. The number of single-medium Afrikaans schools in South Africa has dropped drastically since 1994. While parents previously resisted the idea of parallel-medium schools, they now display a positive attitude towards such schools. Jackson (2014:12) states that education in parallel-medium schools is successful, a point of view confirmed by a school principal in Limpopo. The potential success of parallel-medium school education can be measured by the community's conviction that a long-established Afrikaans-medium school has the right to retain Afrikaans as medium of instruction while making provision for learners from the community who prefer to be taught through the medium of English. This would, however, require excellent leadership (Jackson 2014:12). The aim of this article is to determine how schools can promote multicultural education and how to address racism by inspiring and teaching learners to be moral people. The theoretical framework on which this study was based are Kohlberg's theory of moral development (1963), Whitehouse's theory of universal values (1995) and mainly on Gandhi's theory of social morality (1946). Kohlberg's theory focuses on three levels of moral development namely, pre-conventional morality, conventional morality and post conventional morality (Maduane 1992:115-123). Whitehouse's theory of universal values promotes universal values that are valued by various cultural groups. According to Ghandi, morality is a very complex matter, especially because values linked to morality are not easily distinguished from a multitude of matters that are presented as values and that often contradict one another. He evolved his principles of morality education along the lines of three main themes, namely (1) morality as a decision of will, (2) the pursuit of spiritual cleanliness and (3) morality as a prerequisite for responsible self-actualisation (lyer 1973:65). Document research (also known as document analysis), which was used in this research, involves the systematic analysis and evaluation of documents that need to be interpreted to reveal their meaning with a view to gaining understanding and generating empirical knowledge from them (Corbin & Strauss 2008 in Joubert, Hartell & Lombard 2016). The researchers approached this study from an interpretivist perspective as well. The leadership of school principals and teachers becomes manifest in their attitudes towards all cultural groups and the way in which they realise those attitudes in their personal lives. They ought to be moral-ethical examples for learners in multi-cultural schools. Without implying that Gandhi's points of view are unreservedly acceptable, one can say that he was an exceptionally good example of a moral-ethical leader. His leadership was characterised by submission to absolute, non-negotiable values. His values were based on respect for all cultures and on service. The authors remain convinced that parallel-medium schools can contribute towards solving the problem of racism.

Keywords : Document analysis; diversity; Gandhi; leadership; morality; multicultural schools; teaching; education; racism.

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