Civic education in the context of South Africa?s history and political struggle

29 Oct 2020

While there is wide agreement that civic education is a good thing, there is little or no consensus on what it is or how it is to be achieved. In a world where secular values dominate public education. this is often the space selected by policy-makers for the inculcation of the ideals of the good life or the moral order to the next generation, yet the ambiguities of teaching values in a non-partisan democratic schools context have often been noted. It would seem that situations of political crisis often provoke calls for the development of curricula to meet these ends. International initiatives in this regard date from the time of the League of Nations and have been endorsed by UNESCO more recently. They have also been significantly stimulated by the post-9/11 situation in the USA. In South Africa there has been some activity with regard to Values Education in recent years in the context of rebuilding civic society, but there has been little in the way of an analysis of the history of civic education or the successes and failures of previous initiatives. This article seeks to initiate a debate in this neglected area in the interest of providing clarity for teachers on what it is that they are expected to do in this regard.