Role of selected higher educational institutions in inculcating an ethical ethos in local government in South Africa : a curriculum review perspective

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 makes provision for three spheres of government: national, provincial and local government. Local government is the third sphere of government, closest to the people and is responsible for service delivery in that sphere. The challenge is the manifestation of corruption across local government. According to Williams (2000:ix), corruption is a deviant and transitory activity. History is replete with cases of bribery, embezzlement, fraud, abuse of power, maladministration, nepotism, conflict of interest and the like. Corruption displays many negative consequences: weakened service delivery, misdirection of public resources, inhibiting growth, alleviating poverty and loss of trust by society (in Webb 2005:153). Therefore, anti-corruption reform is high on the political agenda in South Africa. In view thereof, this article introduces a paradigm shift in addressing corruption in local government. The researchers support the views expressed by Alperstein (2007:62-64) that institutions of higher learning should play prominent roles in instilling values, becoming more socially responsive to community development and producing new knowledge and graduates who are critical yet responsive citizens by reviewing its curriculum development. It stands to reason that higher education is often celebrated as the powerhouse and engine’ for development, and central to this mandate is the design and function of curricula in Higher Education Institutions (Prinsloo 2010:19). Hence, the key focus of the discussion is an overview of curricula of Local Government modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at selected institutions of higher learning in South Africa. The aim is raising awareness on ethical issues and evolution of a culture of zero tolerance towards unethical behaviour in municipal practices. The article supports a need for debate and discussion on diverse methodologies and approaches as a starting point to the ethical enquiry. Ethics education is becoming more complex and entails new learning approaches in addressing its complexity. There is a paradigm shift in the debate and discussion about teaching and incorporating a focus of ethics in the curriculum from a mere incorporation into the curriculum, to what are the best methods and pedagogies for teaching ethics.