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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

VAN DER WALT, Johannes L. Religion in education in South Africa: was social justice served?. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.3, pp. 381-393. ISSN 0256-0100.

The promulgation of South African policy regarding the place of religion in public education was delayed until 2003, after a lively debate. The National Policy on Religion in Education effectively banned confessional, sectarian religion frompublic schools, but allowed for the teaching of Religion Studies as an academic subject and for religious observances, on condition that these were offered in a fair and equitable manner. Given the nature of the debate around religion and education in South Africa,1 it can be asked whether the state has served social justice through thisPolicy. A discussion of human rights, social justice, morality and the role of the state leads to the conclusion that although the state never actually mentioned the philosophical or moral driving forces behind the Policy, it is most likely that it applied tenets of secularism, value-plurality, pragmatic political expediency and modus Vivendi. This was probably the best route for the state to follow considering how, in the past, education suffered from the over-emphasis of divisive factors. Revised policy could arguably take cognisance of how actors on the ground dealt with this conundrum.

Keywords : human rights; morality; religion; religion/religious education; religion in education; social justice; South Africa; state.

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