2015 Volume 2015 Issue 50 Pages 89-111
The purpose of this article is to consider conflicts of perceptions in education for “living together” in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) by analysing interview data which was collected at high schools in the province of the Western Cape.
Recently, various studies have been conducted to consider what it means for people to “live together” with others in society. One of the theories these studies suggest is that when considering the concept of “living together” (or the concept of a “living together society”) as the concept which focuses on how to realise “social unity in diversity”, it can only be thought of as a continuing process rather something which can actually be achieved. This is because when trying to respect the differences of people, the possibility of having conflicts in society becomes high; therefore, whenever conflicts arise, the concept of “living together” needs to be reformed. In this sense, the concept of “living together” can not only be seen as a “beautiful” or “harmonious” concept, but as an “unbeautiful” or “disharmonious” one due to the conflict in question. From current discussions on the concept of “living together”, and when analysing education for “living together”, this article focuses on how conflicts appear in the actual practice of “living together” and how they may be solved.
In order to enhance the validity of studies on the concept of “living together”, it is necessary to consider as many contexts as possible. One such context can be seen in RSA, where the legacy of apartheid is being addressed in the various fields of society.
In post-apartheid RSA, it has been a challenge to overcome conflicts between different groups of people, particularly those based on tensions that emerged during the apartheid era. In other words, how victims and perpetrators of apartheid can “live together” has become one of the RSA’s most important concerns in the post-apartheid era. Therefore various attempts have been made to resolve this issue, especially in the educational field.
Amongst all the educational reconstructions in post-apartheid RSA, the introduction of “Life Orientation” as a compulsory subject in the 2000s can be said to be one of the most significant attempts at “living together”. This is because Life Orientation is a new and unique subject in the RSA which deals with actual issues in society and aims to enable learners to know how to exercise their constitutional rights and responsibilities, to respect the rights of others, and to value diversity, health and well-being.
This article explains that Life Orientation at the high school phase in the RSA can be regarded as one of the most meaningful examples of education for “living together”, because it tries to equip learners with skills that are necessary for realising the principles of the RSA Constitution – ones which emphasise anti-discrimination and social unity in diversity. In order to examine the characteristics of education for “living together” in the current RSA, this article focuses on educators’ and learners’ discourses related to Life Orientation when analysing interview data.
Interview data was collected at three high schools in the province of the Western Cape in 2012 and 2013. Participants were learners, Life Orientation educators and administrative educators (semi-structured interviews were conducted in English). The aim of the interview was to reveal how education and learning for “living together” are taking place at high schools in the the current RSA by asking questions such as “What do you imagine when you hear the term “living together society?” and “What do you think is the key (or the obstacle) to [realising a] “living together society?”
This article discusses several results revealed by the above research. Firstly, it discusses a conflict of perception between those who believe that (View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)