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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.1 Pretoria  2012




Learners in the marketplace: Ethical and educational dilemmas


Leerders in die markplein: Etiese en opvoedkundige dilemmas



Elize C. du Plessis; Petro Marais

College of Education, University of South Africa, South Africa





Since the abolishment of legislation (the South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996) stipulating that a learner may only attend a certain school in an area, there is great competition amongst schools to attract learners to their schools. There is a tendency to regard as commodities learners who can be seen as assets to the school, especially if these learners show a talent for sports and have outstanding sporting achievements. The main aim of the research was to determine whether school principals, learners and parents think that it is unethical to 'buy' talented learners. A qualitative research approach was undertaken to determine the views of a purposefully selected sample of school principals, learners and parents regarding the 'buying' of talented learners. These participants were chosen as they were important role players in the process of 'buying' talented learners. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire with semi-structured and open-ended questions. The participants' answers were critically analysed, and the ethical correctness was determined by evaluating them against the ethical ideas identified in five ethical approaches, namely the utilitarian approach, the rights approach, the fairness or justice approach, the virtue approach and the ethical problem solving approach. An extrapolation of these findings gives one an idea of our society's attitude to the 'buying' of talented learners and whether a need exists to actively create greater awareness of this practice. The findings are significant to illustrate the different viewpoints of school principals, talented learners and parents on the ethical and educational dilemmas of schools that 'buy' talented learners.


Sedert die afskaffing van wetgewing (die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet, Nr. 84 van 1996) wat bepaal dat 'n leerder net na 'n sekere skool in 'n area mag gaan, het daar groot kompetisie tussen skole ontstaan om leerders na hul skole te lok. Die tendens het ontstaan om leerders wat 'n aanwins vir die skool kan wees as handelsitems te beskou, veral as hierdie leerders 'n talent toon vir sport en uitstekende sportprestasies lewer. Die hoofdoel van die navorsing was om te bepaal of skoolhoofde, leerders en ouers reken dat dit oneties is om talentvolle leerders te koop. 'n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gevolg om die standpunte van 'n doelgerigte, geselekteerde steekproef van skoolhoofde, leerders en ouers te bepaal betreffende die 'koop' van talentvolle leerders. Hierdie deelnemers is gekies omdat hulle belangrike rolspelers is in die proses wanneer talentvolle leerders 'gekoop' word. Data is verkry met behulp van 'n vraelys met semi-gestruktureerde en oop vrae. Die deelnemers se antwoorde is krities geanaliseer en die etiese korrektheid daarvan is bepaal deur dit te evalueer in ooreenstemming met die etiese idees soos geïdentifiseer in die vyf etiese benaderings, naamlik (1) die nuttigheidsbenadering, (2) die regte-benadering, (3) die regverdigheidsbenadering, (4) die Deugdebenadering en (5) die etiese probleemoplossingsbenadering. 'n Uitbreiding van hierdie bevindinge gee 'n idee van 'n gemeenskap se houding oor die 'koop' van talentvolle leerders en dien ook om vas te stel of daar 'n behoefte tot groter bewustheid van hierdie praktyk bestaan. Die bevindinge is belangrik om die verskillende uitgangspunte van skoolhoofde, talentvolle leerders en ouers rakende etiese en opvoedkundige dilemmas van talentvolle leerders wat 'gekoop' word, te illustreer.



Full text available only in PDF format.



We wish to thank Professor Irmild Horn for her assistance in this research project.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors' contributions

E.D.P. (University of South Africa) and P.M. (University of South Africa) contributed equally in the research and writing of this manuscript.



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Elize du Plessis
PO Box 392
University of South Africa 0003
South Africa

Received: 05 July 2011
Accepted: 12 June 2012
Published: 16 Nov. 2012

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