SA Journal of Education, Volume 40, Supplement 2, December 2020

The role of the school in inculcating citizenship values in South Africa: Theoretical and international comparative perspectives

Charl Wolhuter, Jan Germen Janmaat, Johannes (Hannes) L van der Walt, Ferdinand J Potgieter


In view of the serious moral decay in South African society, this article reports on our research regarding the role of the school in the inculcation of citizenship values (as part of the brief of South African education). We regard a set of citizenship values consonant with a democratic dispensation to be a core component of a moral order essential for South Africa. Using a combination of interpretive-constructivist and comparative approaches, we examine and evaluate the experiences of other post-conflict societies in using education to inculcate citizenship values. We conclude that schools can be successful with respect to the inculcation of citizenship values, provided that the curriculum itself does not discriminate against any group or category of people. Desegregation can only be beneficial in the absence of negative depiction (including criminalisation) or the unequal treatment of any particular societal grouping. Our research suggests that active citizenship education is needed in schools. For this reason, we contend that teacher education has to form an integral part of a moral revival project. Lastly, we highlight the importance of finding democratically agreed-upon ways to continually engage with parents, legal caregivers and other stakeholders and role-players before and during the execution of any such project.

ORCiD iDs of authors
Charl Wolhuter -
Jan Germen Janmaat -
Johannes (Hannes) L van der Walt –
Ferdinand J Potgieter -

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