Inside and outside the school gates: exploring marginalisation in KwaZulu-Natal schools in South Africa?

05 Sep 2016

Schooling is often optimistically presented as the forum in which individuals find avenues for self development, where a nation can sow and harvest the human resource potential of the future generation of society, where notions of democracy, equity and social justice are taught and learnt. Most nation?states develop their official policies around education in order to realise at least some of these psychological, social and ideological goals, yet the glaring contrary reality often presents itself. Schooling for many is not self-affirming, is unable to produce adequate and relevant human resource capital and is a place where learners learn more about the iniquitous hierarchies that exist between different groups of people. Patterns of social inequalities are reflected in schools despite the policy interventions aimed at reducing or eradicating injustices. This study aims to uncover the experiences of learners within the schooling system in the context of a country which consciously attempted to make a break from the past history of an apartheid education system. South Africa is one of the few countries in present times which has had the fortune of being able to fundamentally overhaul its education system, infusing at all levels a campaign for realising better social justice for all. In particular, the goals of the new educational policies attempted to be reconciled with the New Constitution in the country (RSA 1996), which presented new liberties for the previously marginalised, or excluded in society. The education policy makers were nevertheless conscious that the legislating of policies would not transform the system overnight and that deliberate and sustained effort would be necessary to tackle the deep-rootedness of the past prejudices and stereotyping in the social fabric of postapartheid life. This study is conducted some eight years after the formal dismantling of the former apartheid education system. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come to be able to realise the goals of better justice for the marginalised.