|About the Doe | DoE Structure | Legislation | DoE Activities | Provincial Education | HIV/AIDS | Media | Bursaries|
|Publications, Policies & Reports | Conferences, Workshops & Events | Archives | Education-Related Sites|
both the qualitative and quantitative discourse analyses, several
principal crosscutting themes emerged.
In this section we discuss four notable themes:
Learners and parents perceive a strong relationship between
communication and values in schools;
‘Human Rights’: A hesitant relationship with a ‘culture of human rights’ among
A close association between ‘values’ and modes of
‘disciplining’ learners; and
An emphasis on the material conditions of value construction, and the
contradiction between material inequities and value formation in children.
Values and Communication
a parent, I’m glad of the way things went today.
The fact that we as parents can have a say in the education of our
children – this makes me feel glad indeed.
In my whole life as a parent, this is my first time.
got here a teacher saying, “Sit down and shut up. Don’t answer me.” And
a child saying, “I never get my side of the story to say”.
I am showing that kids are not respected by letting their side of
the story be said or heard.
teachers should listen to us because we are young and we’ve got great
ideas. There are some things
that we’d like to do.
first picture talks about a student who didn’t understand the
teacher’s explanation. He
says to the teacher, “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t hear your explanation. Will you please repeat it for me?” The teacher says, “Where were you? Did I send you to grow beans?”
This picture shows that teachers should have patience even if he
[must] repeat it more often so that we can understand.
the teacher will make a mistake of marking you wrong when you are right.
When you complain he will say, “I’m drunk to mark you wrong?
I’m drunk! Don’t ever say
I put a wrong. Don’t ever
say I made a mistake.”
most pronounced theme emerging through the research process is the
relationship between ‘values’ and communication in schools.
There were several features of this relationship.
First, the workshops of all school stakeholder groups focused on
the current lack of meaningful communication in schools.
Second, the lack of communication translates into a lack of shared
understanding about values in the school context.
Third, the lack of communication in schools means that existing
‘values’ are not re-negotiated in the school context so that historic
values still have momentum in the present.
Finally, many learners and parents define
‘communication’ itself as a value
to be promoted in schools.
In all workshops, the discussion among learners, educators, and parents about values in education diverted at some point to a discussion about the lack of communication that currently exists in schools. Learners, parents and educators emphasise different places where the communication breakdown is most acute.
Learners emphasise the lack of communication between learners and educators. Approximately 15% of learners identified ‘disrespect’ in the form of a lack of communication as the most important ‘value’ currently operating in school. An additional 60% identified other values associated with poor communication (humiliation, lack of kindness) as the most important values currently operating in schools. They place a particular emphasis on the problem of ‘listening’ in schools. The most common ‘negative value’ cited by learners in schools was a ‘lack of respect’ in the form of the lack of communication and listening between school stakeholders. Learners not only feel that they are not listened to, but that they are silenced through the use of insults, humiliation, physical assault, and sexual harassment. They describe communication as one-directional, and within strict norms of communication between learners and adults. Learners perceive that educators consider more free-flowing communication between learners and educators as ‘disrespectful’.
teachers do have problems, but because we are students we just have to
keep quiet and discuss things alone.
[We can] only talk alone and talk nowhere else because we fear that
the principal will tell us that we don’t have respect and maybe our
parents will blame us for not respecting our teachers.
teachers can be fair, but mostly you get blamed for what you didn’t do.
You don’t even get a chance to explain yourself.
times you are late for class and when trying to explain the teachers tells
you it’s none of his business, it doesn’t concern him and he can’t
at school we are treated as learners who don’t have rights, like on the
farm. At times when you are
late you’ll find the teacher making fun of you and asking questions he
shouldn’t and commenting that we are stupid.
picture talks about teachers who don’t respect school children.
I’ve drawn a child who is late for school and she finds the
teacher in class. [The
teacher] insults her and calls her names and when she tries to explain she
is told that she is good for nothing. The value I see is that the teacher lacks respect.
Parents emphasise the lack of communication between educators on the one hand, and learners, parents and the broader community on the other. Parents most often identify the failure of educators to communicate clearly with them about, for example, the expectations they have of parents, and the progress and / or lack of progress of their children. It is more rarely expressed as the failure of schools to take seriously issues raised by parents, such as the religiously-based objections to their childrens’ participation in certain activities. Parents articulated an unwritten but rigid ‘code’ guiding how parents are supposed to communicate in the school context. Parents who communicate outside of these codes, or who do not implicitly understand these codes, are either silenced or self-silenced.
Figure 5: Parents Emphasise the Value of ‘Communication’ in Schools
Parents link the lack of communication at schools with the absence of an inclusive sense of ‘respect’ between educators and both parents and learners. While parents strongly believe that learners should respect educators, they are also concerned that educators should communicate with learners on the basis of basic respect:
is a lack of freedom of speech. Learners
are not even free to ask a teacher a question.
do not communicate with learners on a human level
use vulgar words to learners
Most parents also express the view that there is not enough respect shown for parents at schools:
need to humble themselves to break the barrier with parents.
They need to respect parents…
There is a sense among some parents that ‘the school deliberately shuts the parents out’. According to parents, expectations are placed on them without being negotiated beforehand. Parents feel judged when they fail to live up to expectations that were not explicit and that they do not feel positioned to meet.
Educators less frequently identified ‘communication’ as a ‘value’ per se, and focused less on the issues of communication with learners and parents. Educators across all focus groups were focused on the lack of communication between educators on the one hand, and school management and levels of the Department of Education on the other:
is important that the managers at District Offices should be involved at
the school... They should be
involved and talk to the members of the SGB and learners and express their
opinion. In that way, we can work together.
absence of meaningful dialogue between stakeholders is evidenced in part
by the often striking divergence between the perspectives of the learners,
educators and parents. As in the old tale of the blind men describing an elephant,
each holding on to a different part, one sometimes wondered if they were
discussing the same school at all. While
educators frequently express the view that the gap between their current
and ideal school is not all that wide, parents describe an environment
where they often feel diminished or invisible.
Learners go a step further – pointing out liquor bottles in
teachers’ cabinets, rubber pipes in their desks, and recounting
incidents ranging from insulting to clearly discriminatory.
The absence of meaningful dialogue is also evidenced in a rapid instinct to ‘blame’ the ‘other’, with little understanding of the ‘other’. Educators are quick to point to the ‘lack of discipline’ among learners and the ‘lack of interest’ among parents. Learners and parents, on the other hand, feel ‘labelled’, with few avenues to be heard or understood.
need for dialogue is also evident in the variety of meanings attributed by
different stakeholders to the same value.
While the ‘values’ that educators, learners, and parents desire
in their schools are not hugely divergent, the meanings they attribute to
these values are often different, and at times opposing.
For example, while ‘respect’ is a core value across learners,
educators and parents, its expression can be very different.
For some learners, ‘respect’ means allowing them to ask
questions in class and not humiliating them for making mistakes.
For some educators, it means learners do not speak unless they are
spoken to, that they line up quietly and obey without question the
instructions of their teachers. A
rural school in the Eastern Cape provides an interesting example. In this school, pension pay-out days have become unofficial
school holidays. The learners
in the school consider that their job of accompanying their grandparents
to the pay-point to ensure their safety is a gesture of respect.
To the school management and some of the educators, however, such
behaviour is an indication of a lack of dedication to, and respect for,
their own education. The
divergent meanings attributed to values in the school context will be
further illustrated in the section of this report that follows.
Related to the lack of the ‘value’ of communication was the link made in some schools between the lack of communication and the lack of ‘space’ for re-negotiating ‘values’ in the context of post-1994 changes. Figure 6 contains a discussion between black and white parents at an ex-Model C school, where a white parent argues that a school has an existing set of values, and that newcomers to this school must accept these values, or find another school.
Figure 6: Renegotiating ‘Values’ in Schools
The idea that values, and the behaviours seen to reflect them, are negotiated through dialogue rather than being fixed and prescribed, becomes critically important in the context of South Africa’s democratic transition. As previously segregated schools come to represent more diverse student populations, the issue of ‘values’ can become a point of resistance to change.
debate raises the question of how values are negotiated and agreed upon at
schools. This cannot be a
once-off, prescriptive activity if our schools are to be truly inclusive
environments. As communities
change and face new challenges, both core values and the expressions of
them need to be periodically discussed and re-negotiated.
In the absence of this explicit process of communication,
‘values’ become systems with the potential to continue to exclude and
The ‘Culture of Human Rights’
The values discourse among educators reveals a complicated relationship between educators and the concepts of democracy and human rights. The concept of democracy and equity are – to a greater or lesser degree – embraced among educators. Educators are concerned about the lack of equity in schools. Educators speak frequently about their efforts to increase the ‘democracy’ in their schools, particularly through the formation of SGBs and link ‘democracy’ with the values of ‘openness’ and ‘tolerance’ (see Section 6.2). However, there appears to be a backlash directed against what teachers refer to loosely as the ‘human rights culture’ or the ‘children’s rights culture’.
these problems [we face] are due to lack of government support.
If there is support, all the problems will be solved…
The government should go back to educate the child to know the real
meaning of rights.
government gives children too many rights without explaining the role
learners should play in respecting their teachers… The government is
influencing our children not to respect their teachers and to lack
students can’t handle the new freedom they’ve got and so they tend to
much as I appreciate government’s attempt to redress past inequities, I
am afraid the manner in which this is being handled erodes the system from
every direction … we have actually created a society of ‘rights’
resulting in a general compromise of authority, production, and general
purposeful upliftment of our community.
half of all educators responding to the questionnaire questioned whether
or not the human rights values in the Constitution and Bill of Rights are
‘practical’ in the school context, while almost 80% believe that an
over-emphasis on ‘child’s rights’ undermines classroom functioning
There appears to be a growing association among adults (both educators and parents) between ‘human rights’ and the undermining of power structures that previously maintained ‘order’ at the levels of family, community, and organisations. ‘Child’s rights’ are perceived to undermine adult authority over child-rearing, leaving adults feeling ‘powerless’ to guide children in a world characterised by high levels of change.
The ‘human rights’ culture appears to be associated with a liberalisation of norms for social behaviour, and an over-emphasis on the ‘individual’ at the expense of the community. Adults in particular perceive a tension between human / child rights (with its emphasis on personal potential and development), and the community norms and values that maintain the fabric of social connection. While an assumption driving the Working Group document is to encourage learners to ‘treat problems as challenges to be solved through knowledge and understanding, rather than as unbearable burdens to be endured without solution’ (DoE, 2000a: 12), many educators and parents appear to fear that this can work against values that have favoured community survival in times of hardship. When water has to be fetched from a long distance, obedience becomes more important than personal expression on a day when everyone is tired.
The discourse is closely associated with both parents’ and educators’ critique of the end to corporal punishment. The end of corporal punishment is consistently associated with the ‘end’ of discipline among learners. There is a lot of nostalgia about the past, remembered as a time of ‘order’ and ‘obedience’, while the present is associated with a lack of discipline and chaos.
Values, Discipline, and Punishment
issue of corporal punishment has to be linked with good management.
If they say, “Do away with corporal punishment”, then our
schools will never be governable.
Parents, educators, and learners all closely associate ‘values’ in education with ‘discipline’ and punishment. For a large number of learners, corporal punishment and humiliation overshadow other aspects of their school experience, and often undermines their sense of respect and trust in their educators. Violent and humiliating discipline was the second most common ‘value’ cited by learners in reference to values currently operational in schools. Many learners found it difficult to discuss any other values at school beyond ‘disrespect’, which they associated with humiliation and physical punishment at school.
picture shows a boy who is crying. He
has come late to school and he is being beaten. These others are also students waiting to be beaten.
punishment must be banned in our school.
Some learners don’t come to school because they are afraid to be
think discipline is really important, but I think a different form of
discipline could be introduced. Like
for instance, if you broke a teacher’s cup, he will shout such that
other teachers will hear that the student is being shouted at.
We try to respect them, but they don’t [respect us].
They even call pupils with bad names.
Sometimes, one will ask a difficult question and insist that he
wants a right answer. If we
fail to answer he will beat us.
Educators made a similar association between ‘values’ and discipline, but as perceived by the disciplinarian. A ‘lack of discipline’ was the second most common ‘value’ cited by educators as currently operational in schools. Almost half (46.5%) of educators negatively associate the end of corporal punishment with their ability effectively to teach learners ‘good values’. Many educators found it difficult to discuss the promotion of values in school outside of bringing back corporal punishment. There was a sense of powerlessness with respect to inculcating values in young people in the absence of physical punishment.
The ‘powerlessness’ associated with the end to corporal punishment is also articulated by educators within ECD sites. ECD practitioners raise questions about how, in the absence of corporal punishment, to make young children ‘behave’. Even at this age level, there is a sense that values cannot be taught to children in the absence of corporal punishment.
there is no corporal punishment anymore, children can’t be disciplined.
We can do nothing.
is a hard one, because we are not allowed to punish a child physically.
I don’t know how we are supposed to make them listen at this age.
Growing children are very troublesome.
It appears that, for many educators, the elimination of corporal punishment without the parallel introduction of effective alternatives has profoundly shaken their sense of control in their classrooms and schools, particularly in the areas of teaching / promoting ‘values.’
Figure 9: Learners Focus on the Physical Punishment and Humiliation in Schools
Figure 10: Corporal Punishment in Schools
5.4. Equity and the Material Conditions of Value Formation
workshops, there were learners, educators, and parents who placed emphasis
on the link between value formation and the material world.
They appear to question the ‘space’ for the promotion of human-centred
values in the context of the great inequities in society at large, and
between, and within, schools in particular.
Parents were particularly articulate about the relationship between
values in young people and the material conditions surrounding them.
Parents put forward a critique of the government in respect to the link between access to basic social services, and the facilitation of values in young people:
· Can we blame ‘poor values’ for the early promiscuity of young people, when my family lives in a shack, where my children have close contact with their parents’ sexual lives?
we blame ‘poor values’ when my child chooses crime, when economic
opportunities for young people are essentially non-existent for all but
the most high achievers?
we blame ‘poor values’ on my child’s obsession with Nike shoes when
the most powerful values among the economic elite centre on materialism?
parents suggest that even allotting time to the values debate is diverting
the government from its more important core task.
They suggest that if the government were achieving its more basic
mandates, with particular reference to the provision of housing, jobs and
a quality education for all, then ‘values’ could be more successfully
navigated in the home environment. One
group of parents was so steadfast in their understanding of the material
basis for values that they re-directed the workshop activities toward a
discussion about how the government could better meet its development
Together with parents, educators emphasise the relationship between values in young people and equal access to a high quality education. Like the analysis put forward in the Values Report, parents and educators link the process of values formation with high quality education, capable of building the creative and intellectual capacities of young people. They emphasise the relationship between the material provisioning of schools (class size, textbooks, creative programming) and the ability to achieve effectively the high quality educational aims. They suggest that the practicality of many of the suggestions laid out in the Values Document (sports, drama, debating clubs, artist in residence) increases with access to at least minimal discretional resources at the school level. Both educators and parents criticise the tendency to blame disadvantaged schools for ‘bad values’ when the underlying problem may more accurately be ascribed to inequity in the lack of basic social and educational resources.
Figure 11: Linking Values and Material Conditions
Source: Parent and Educator Participatory Workshop
In this section, we consider how stakeholders understand the six values identified in the Values Report; namely, equity, tolerance, openness, accountability, multilingualism, and honour. The analysis from this section is drawn from the questionnaire data, where educators were asked to comment directly on these values. At the end of this section, we comment on the meaning of respect and Ubuntu, incorporating both questionnaire and participatory workshop data.
Educators, learners, and parents largely approve of the six values named in the Values Report. However, their understanding of the meaning and implications of the named values in practice was not only divergent, but often at odds with the intention of the values as laid out in the Values Report. Further, when stakeholders embraced one of the concepts suggested in the Values Report, they often named the ‘value’ associated with the concept differently.
The Values Document identifies ‘equity’ as one of the six core values for the education system, defining equity with an emphasis on redress, equal opportunity, and equal access. When asked what ‘equity’ meant to them, educators gave a range of answers. The two most common definitions framed equity as ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’ (28%), on the one hand, and ‘sameness’ / ‘everyone is the same’ (17%), on the other. A large sub-group of the educators who defined equity as ‘sameness’ emphasised ‘not thinking you are better.’ A smaller group defined ‘equity’ on the basis of equal treatment (14%), and equal opportunity and access (10%). An even smaller group understood equity to imply redress (Figure 12).
76% of educators (N=1178) believe that their school currently promotes ‘equity’, and 98% of educators believe that they personally promote ‘equity’ in their classroom. Over one half of respondents explained their answer and / or provided examples at the school level (N=719) or classroom level (N=863). At a school level, educators most commonly (43%) explained that ‘learners are all treated the same.’ A smaller group of educators (17%) explained that learners were treated with ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’. A substantial number (31%) associated promoting ‘equity’ in the classroom with the range of strategies to promote democracy and participation in school life. These answers were similar to those cited at the classroom level. 54% of educators said that they promoted ‘equity’ in the classroom by ‘treating everyone the same.’ About 15% of educators linked group work and the promotion of debate with the promotion of equity at a class level. 100 educators cited their specific efforts to promote ‘equal gender roles’ in the classroom.
The quarter of educators who said that equity was not promoted in their schools cited discrimination of learners on the basis of poverty, race, gender, languages, religion, and school performance. Educators most commonly cited problems with the ethos of management as a barrier to achieving equity at school (37%, N=205). Many cited an authoritarian tradition among school leaders; others pointed to what they perceived as ‘favouritism’, ‘nepotism’, ‘authoritative leadership’, ‘lack of respect’ and ‘discrimination’ within school management. A large group of educators (26%) cited the lack of resources combined with the depth of the divisions inherited from the past. A smaller but insistent group cited the lack of learner discipline and a growing culture of materialism (among learners and educators) as significant barriers to promoting equity in the school context.
A small group of educators indicated that ‘equity’ was either in conflict with their own values (12%) or was not practical in the school context (15%). Of the 83 respondents who explained the conflict between equity and their own values, 54 of them perceived that the concept of ‘equity’ was ‘misused’ and ‘misunderstood’, and ‘used in self serving ways.’ A small but emphatic group (N=14) perceive ‘equity’ to be at odds with the promotion of ‘quality.’ Another group indicated that allowing pregnant girls into school was in conflict with their own values. The educators who do not believe that ‘equity’ is practical in the context of schools equate ‘equity’ with a lack of discipline in the classroom and cite both the problem of ‘favouritism’, and lack of gender equity among educators and management. A smaller group cited the lack of resources and challenges of languages in the classroom as practical barriers undermining ‘equity’ in the context of schools.
Figure 12: Educators’ Definitions of ‘Equity’
Percentages (N = 1178). What does ‘equity’ mean to you? Open ended question, coded into themes.
Parents and educators closely link excellence in education with equity. Educators closely link the issues of school excellence with issues of resourcing, and particularly equity in resource distribution. Educators emphasise that ‘excellence’ in outcomes is not simply dependent upon ‘valuing’ ‘excellence’, but is linked to the availability of basic educational resources. At the most basic level, educators list security, sufficient textbooks, lower teacher:pupil ratios and a feeding scheme for those learners who come to school without having eaten, as essential to a good learning environment. They emphasise the inequitable resources rooted in the legacy of apartheid, and express frustration with the slow speed of redress to equalise basic inputs into education (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Educators: Emphasis on Redress
The most highly rated value for parents in education is the value of excellence and quality. They define school quality as encompassing high pass rates, curricula relevant to the current economic environment, as well as the ability of a school to develop non-academic qualities and skills in learners, including decision making, music, art and sports
desire of everyone around here is to see [this school] achieving more than
this. It shouldn’t be that
children just study and pass, but if they are to move from here and go to
tertiary institutions, they should be great thinkers.
We want the school to produce great thinkers. In such a way the name of the school will be known whenever
people go around so that people will know you were cook from a pot called
[the name of the school]. We
would like to see [this school] being on top of the cream, on top of the
other schools. That is the
desire of most of us here.
we are talking about learning, it should not end in the classroom.
There should be recreation and sports.
Children should not concentrate on books only.
They should refresh their minds.
Parents closely linked quality of education with issues of equity, and in particular ensuring all children have an equal opportunity to excel – through affordable fees, feeding schemes and uniform banks, and the availability of specialists to assist with the individual needs of each child (counselling, special needs, remedial help, etc). Parents reject the simple equation between low pass rates in schools and the ‘value’ the school and community place on education. They argue that until basic education provisions are in place, it is misdirected to blame poor performance on a school’s values.
were particularly concerned about better inclusion
of all learners, and particularly those who come from poor households. They talk about children being discriminated against for lack
of school fees, a school uniform, stable housing, and reliable transport.
They talk about subtle ways in which children from low-income
backgrounds are not treated ‘fairly.’
They support efforts to intervene in the subtle ways in which
disadvantaged children continue to be excluded from school life.
associate ‘respect’ with ‘equity’ in various ways.
While they embrace wearing a school uniform as a symbol of
‘respect’, they condemn learners who are punished on the basis of not
having a uniform. They are concerned about learners who are treated poorly
because they do not have school fees, a clean uniform, or other school
materials. Learners associate
‘respect’ with equitable basic resourcing of schools.
While the Values Report places ‘Ubuntu’ within the broad framework of ‘tolerance’, learners, parents, and educators emphasise ‘Ubuntu’, but place it at the intersection of equity and compassion.
Within schools, the embodiment of equity is seen to be actions of caring shown towards the most needy members of the community. Across schools, equity is defined as the redistribution of resources in order that all schools, regardless of their location, are equipped to play on a level playing field. Both of these ideas are closely associated with ‘Ubuntu’.
the board, parents, educators and learners express a strong desire to
maintain the value of ‘Ubuntu’ at the centre of the school
environment. In different
ways, people spoke to the need to ensure that all kids are fed, that they
are able to attend school even if they can’t afford the school fees, and
that there are mechanisms in place so that all learners can wear a proper
school uniform. ‘Ubuntu’
embraced the idea of ‘looking out for each other’ and a sense of
compassion during times of need.
have children who are hungry. We
cannot just reject them. We
help them. There are parents
who cannot afford, but we always take care of them.
our teachers donate clothes for needy children.
sympathise with learners and fellow teachers who are bereaved.
People speak with pride of learners and teachers who share their lunch with others, and of the generosity of all members of the school community when a member of the school community is struck by tragedy.
The Values Report makes a conscious attempt to define ‘tolerance’ as a ‘deeper and more meaningful’ concept of mutual understanding, reciprocal altruism, and the active appreciation of the value of human difference. The Report places the value of ‘Ubuntu’ within the concept of ‘tolerance’ (DoE, 2000: 22).
While the Values Report tries to emphasise a more far-reaching understanding of tolerance, the majority of educators understand ‘tolerance’ within its most limited connotation. 46% of educators (N=1144) understand ‘tolerance’ to imply ‘having patience with’, ‘putting up with’ and ‘bearing’ other people and different ideas. There was a strong discourse of ‘acceptance’. An additional 32% of educators defined tolerance as either ‘accepting’ or ‘appreciating’ cultural differences and / or different views and opinions. A smaller group of educators (12%) defined tolerance as reaching toward consideration, open mindedness, and understanding. 5% of educators defined ‘tolerance’ as ‘respect.’
85% of educators indicate that they think that ‘tolerance’ is promoted in their school, and 95% of educators believe that ‘tolerance’ is promoted in their classroom. Approximately one half of respondents provided examples (N=718). These answers were equally distributed into four groups. One group of educators associated promoting tolerance with building democracy and participation in the school and classroom. One group associated promoting tolerance with inclusion and a lack of discrimination in the school and classroom. The third group associated promoting ‘tolerance’ with promoting ‘respect’ for difference. The final group provided only general answers with no specific strategies (eg, ‘we try’).
Without naming it as ‘tolerance’, educators were asked to respond to the following idea at the end of the questionnaire: 
people say that schools should teach learners to fully accept all people
as human beings. They say that we shouldn’t just learn to ‘put up’ with
people who are different, but come to a meaningful understanding of each
other including a sense of caring for others and doing things for the sake
88% of educators said that this concept was not in conflict with their own values. Those educators who said that the concept was in conflict with their own values did not provide detailed descriptions of the conflict. 78% of educators thought the idea was practical in the context of their school. 22% said that the idea was either not practical, or they didn’t know whether it was practical. 22% of educators thought that there were barriers to promoting this idea in their schools. They cited poor management, lack of commitment and dedication among educators and / or learners, the lack of resources, and the lack of good parental support. Over 50 educators said that the idea was difficult to implement due to the complexity of the diversity (language, religion, beliefs) of learners in their schools.
Across schools and across stakeholder groups, there was not one person who openly advocated for intolerance, or the return to explicitly discriminatory practices. Across all groups, there was an equation between ‘respect’ and a lack of discrimination. However, while school stakeholders were quick to align themselves with ‘tolerance’, there was widespread evidence of discriminatory practices and discriminatory thinking in schools.
According to learners, the most frequent ‘value’ currently operating in schools was ‘disrespect’ in the form of ‘discrimination’ and exclusion.
Learners spoke most frequently about gender discrimination. In every group of learners, both boys and girls talked about the difference in treatment and mistreatment of girl and boy learners (Table 14). Learners call this ‘discrimination’ and ‘disrespect’, and cite examples such as greater cleaning duties for girl learners, greater physical labour for boy learners, and the sexual harassment of girl learners. Learners widely agree that in general, boys are given harsher punishments for the same offence and are, in the case of sex-segregated facilities, such as toilets and hostels, provided with inferior facilities. In seven of the ten schools, girls were concerned about male educators who made inappropriate advances to girl learners, and spent significant workshop-time discussing their concerns over the situations that this posed for them in school.
Figure 14: Learners’ Concern for ‘Discrimination’ in Schools
Strikingly, there was less discussion among stakeholders about racial discrimination in schools. This largely reflects the current lack of integration in schools. Table 15 demonstrates the percentage of schools in the participatory and questionnaire sample, and compares these figures with the national average. Fewer than 30% of schools (within the sample and as a national average) have integrated (by ‘population group’) learner populations. In reality, many of the ‘integrated’ schools are dominated by one ‘population group’, with a handful of learners representing the ‘diversity’.
In some schools, across race lines, there appears to be a ‘closing of debate’ among educators. The patterns of communication and interaction among educators in particular suggest that educators were reticent to talk about differences across historical race lines. Mixed race groups of educators socialised largely along race lines. One educator explained, ‘we blacks still go home at night to stay in the location, and the white [teachers] go home to the white suburbs. So while we work together we don’t know each other…’. While there is civility and kindness across race lines, there was little meaningful engagement on perceived differences. Among white educators, particularly in the context of ECD sites, race was addressed with simplistic notions of ‘black and white, we’re all the same’, failing to understand or facilitate an understanding of difference rooted within our divided past.
While the discussion about race was not pronounced, it was woven into the discourse in various ways. In the early exercises of the participatory workshops, participants were asked to think about a value important to their local community. A large number of educators chose examples that implicitly defined their ‘local community’ along race lines. There were a large number of black educators who chose ‘respect’ and defined ‘respect’ as attending neighbours’ funerals, pointing out that this ‘respect’ was not important in ‘other communities’. After this exercise, educators were asked to think about “a value that other people may consider important, but with which you personally disagree”. Again, many of these examples were selected along race lines, and according to racial stereotypes. A white educator said that she knew that in ‘some communities’ the ‘extended family was valued more than the child’. She said this was demonstrated when parents ‘did not take responsibility for their child’ and instead sent them to their grandparents or other extended family members. She interpreted this as a difference between ‘communities’ where in ‘her community’ children were ‘valued’ more. In the ex-Model C schools, where the student body is more diverse, there was more talk of explicit racism. (See Figure 15).
The lack of personal experience with truly multicultural environments, combined with a hesitation to speak freely about race in mixed-raced settings, means that many educators are not well positioned as leaders of anti-racism work in schools.
Figure 15: Integration of School Sample as Compared to National Average (%)
1997 is the most current available data
In schools, the management who were interviewed individually were more quick to discuss race, and the tensions of racial integration in their schools. In previously white schools, principals discussed the process of integration, citing the struggles – at times under the surface and at times openly hostile – that the school had endured to reach the external civility that currently characterised their schools.
Figure 16: The Momentum of Racism in Model C Schools…
Field Worker Reflection Notes
Figure 17: The Momentum of Racism in Model C Schools…
Some discussion about race and racism appeared to be alluded to in the guise of ‘culture’. Parents commonly expressed the opinion that different ‘cultures’ were not equally valued at school, but were often reluctant or unable to articulate specific examples. They often spoke of a sense of being ‘looked down on’ by teachers, and of being seen for what one is not doing rather than recognised for the contributions that one is able to make to the school. Parents were also concerned about discrimination on the basis of language, religion, and ethnic background and cited more explicit examples in these areas. Tsonga-speaking parents spoke about the shame with which their children were treated by other ethnic groups in the area. Some parents admit to having encouraged their children to abandon their home language and claim to be Northern Sotho speakers.
When parents, educators and learners were challenged to consider solutions better to promote ‘cultural’ respect at schools, they most commonly equated ‘culture’ with the external trappings of traditional cultures. Suggestions included calls for traditional dress to be accepted in schools, for regular cultural festivals to be held on school premises, and for a variety of South African food to be served in the cafeteria. One parent cautioned against equating culture solely with food, song and dance and neglecting the more fundamental aspects of custom and tradition. However, for the most part the discussion of ‘culture’ and ‘race’ remained at this superficial level.
It is important to note that the contradiction between what educators say they value – tolerance and an inclusive environment – and the reality of many schools may be related to a lack of practical experience of such an environment. In many cases, educators have had few experiences of a truly inclusive environment, and while they may genuinely see themselves as non-discriminatory, they do not have the knowledge or experience to lead the development of a truly non-discriminatory environment.
This was well illustrated in the area of religion. While educators on the whole state that their school does not discriminate against learners on the basis of religion, Christian prayers and readings from the Bible dominated all of the school assemblies in the sample schools. When this issue is raised, educators explain that they do not discriminate against non-Christian learners because those learners are ‘free’ not to attend assembly. Educators cited this form of exclusion as a positive indication of a proudly inclusive school, and no one was able to articulate an example of more pro-active inclusion. At one school, a group of educators, talking about ‘respecting’ other religions, focused on their concern about embracing ‘Satanism’, effectively polarising religious beliefs as either ‘Christian’ or ‘anti-Christian’. Many educators appear never to have been exposed to other faiths and lack a basic understanding of the major religious faiths practiced in South Africa. For many educators, closely related to this theme was the close connection between ‘teaching values’ and ‘Biblical studies’. Across schools, there was a group of educators who considered that their ability to ‘teach values’ is undermined by the lack of Biblical teachings in the school context. Thus even if educators ‘want’ to associate themselves with religious tolerance, they do not have the knowledge or experience to do so.
Figure 18: Religious Tolerance in Schools
Field Worker Reflection Notes
The Values Report linked ‘tolerance’ with ‘Ubuntu’. Learners and educators were particularly committed to building the ‘value’ of ‘Ubuntu’ in schools. Though it is called by different names – Ubuntu, humanity, kindness, compassion and co-operation – parents, in particular, expressed a strong desire that their children learn the value of being actively compassionate towards others. For parents, this value would be expressed by children who: ‘help people in need’, ‘assist people who have been in an accident’; ‘greet people, even if they do not know them’; ‘have sympathy for others’; ‘comfort and care for other children who are hurt or crying’; ‘share their toys’; and ‘work with others voluntarily.’
The Values Report links the promotion of tolerance with a critical approach to history. The Report lays out three challenges linking history and geography to deepening democratic value in learners -- to teach human evolution as a way to combat myths underlying racial prejudice, to provide a comprehensive history of all South African peoples, and to stare down past abuses of human rights to understand the cause and effect of historical genocide. The educator questionnaire probed educators’ support of these recommendations. The majority of educators agree with these goals (Figure 20). However, between 20% and 40% of educators do not agree with these goals (Table 4). These educators represent a potential barrier to the realisation of these objectives.
very important thing that I would like to share with you is that we should
use approaches based on an African perspectives. [Educator Questionnaire]
you for the questionnaire, it has stretched my thinking! Democracy will
benefit at the end of the day, which will benefit the nation. Regards, Gavin Stone. P.S.
I prefer to put my name down so that I can be held accountable! For
my statements. Now, how is
that for openness? [Comment at the end of Educator Questionnaire]
The Values Document associates ‘openness’ with an openness to new ideas and an orientation to knowledge-based problem solving, critical thinking, and debate. Educators define ‘openness’ in four different ways. The largest group of educators (41%) associate openness with ‘transparency’, ‘accessibility’ and ‘approachability’. A manager is ‘open’ when decisions are made transparently. An educator is ‘open’ when learners are able to come to him/her with their problems. Closely associated with ‘transparency’, another group of educators (24%) emphasise ‘honesty’ and ‘frankness’ in their understanding of ‘openness.’ A third group (23%) directly associate ‘openness’ with ‘freedom of speech.’ A smaller group associates ‘openness’ with listening.
74% of educators indicate that they think that ‘openness’ is promoted in their school, and 94% indicate that they believe ‘openness’ is promoted in their classroom. The majority of educators (58% of 511) associated the promotion of openness at school with strategies to deepen democracy and participation in school life. Other educators said that schools promote ‘openness’ by ‘encouraging honesty’ among teachers and learners (14%), and promoting transparency and feedback mechanisms within the school (16%).
Educators provided a different set of examples about how they promoted ‘openness’ in the classroom. Most educators indicated that ‘openness’ was promoted in their classroom through group work, and ensuring that everyone has an equal chance in class (47% of 581). Closely related to this, a large number of educators say that they promote openness in the classroom by making learners ‘free’ to talk about their problems (28%). Smaller groups of educators say that ‘openness’ is promoted by sharing information (7%), admitting to mistakes (thereby role modelling ‘openness’) (7%), and ‘encouraging friendliness’ (5%). There is a discourse of accountability woven into educators’ understanding of ‘openness’, with educators referring to ‘transparency’ and ‘admitting to mistakes.’
Without naming it as ‘openness’, educators were asked to respond to the following idea at the end of the questionnaire: 
people say that schools should promote emotional and intellectual openness
among learners. This includes
the importance of a scientific approach to problem solving, a strong
reading culture, and a strong culture of debate and discussion.
It also means that learners should be given critical thinking
skills and encouraged to ask critical and creative questions.’
88% (N=1129) of educators said that this idea was not in conflict with their own values in any way. The few educators who articulated why the idea was in conflict with their own values perceived this idea to promote learner independence to an extent that could undermine the ‘role’ and ‘control’ of educators. 15% of educators said that they did not think that this idea was practical in the context of their school. 20% thought that there were barriers to promoting this idea, and cited these barriers as a lack of resources, lack of discipline among learners, an overemphasis on children’s rights, and a lack of committed educators, parents, and managers as barriers to promoting this idea.
The Values Report equated ‘openness’ with a quality and holistic approach to education – embracing numeracy, a scientific approach to problem solving, history, culture, literature, economy, law, society, critical thinking and creative endeavour.
Learners, parents, and educators strongly concur with the Values Report that a quality education system provides critical scaffolding for democratic value formation in young people. Across all workshops, stakeholders emphasised the ‘value’ of excellence in education, and the ‘value’ of learning itself. While articulated in different ways, educators, parents and learners linked a child’s breadth of knowledge and confidence in her ability to learn, with the promotion of human-centred and democratic values.
Learners associate values in school with holistic schooling. While a quality academic education is their first priority, even in schools with a high pass rate learners, express a desire for learning to take place in an environment where dedicated teachers provide good role models for learners, where difference is not only tolerated, but celebrated, and where learners are free to ask questions and express their own opinions and questions without fear. Additionally, they speak of the need for emphasis on the holistic development of learners by providing opportunities for them to develop physically and artistically, as well as intellectually.
activity makes learners learn better.
They get more oxygen to the brain and learn teamwork.
should be trained in art to create works of art to honour people and
Educators talk about the importance of the value of ‘excellence’ in education. Educators define an environment that values excellence as one that is safe and clean, caters to the individual needs of learners, and puts all learners on an equal footing. This vision rests uneasily with their overwhelming focus on authoritative obedience (see below). The ‘openness’ as suggested in the Values Report – rooted in critical thinking, questioning minds, and creative endeavour – lay beyond the horizon of current reality in all of the schools participating in this study.
Whereas the Values Report envisions the meaningful engagement of educators with learners to stimulate good and penetrating questioning, a large number of educators struggle to facilitate any kind of questioning among learners (Figure 21. Whereas the Values Report emphasises creative engagement, educators remain overwhelmingly concerned with authoritarian order and control.
parents, and learners did not talk about critical thinking skills in
relationship to values development. When
facilitators posed the question of how critical thinking relates to values
development, learners were the most ready to support the contention that
critical thinking and values were related in some way.
However, they talk about their hesitation to ask questions in class
for fear of being humiliated. They
perceive that asking questions in class often leads to the teacher and
other learners laughing at the question, rather than the question being
taken seriously. (Figure 22).
Figure 21: The Distance Between Reality and Visions…
Field Worker Reflection Notes
express doubt about the ‘practicality’ of ‘critical thinking’ in
the context of their classrooms. Most
educators did not substantially engage with the concept of critical
thinking. For those that did,
they either felt that there was no time in class to cultivate critical
thinking (Figure 22), that management, in reality, did not support their
efforts, or that, because learners did not ask questions, it was not
‘relevant’. One educator
spoke of a time he tried to introduce more critical thinking within class
discussion. Despite the good
reception from learners, he was criticised by the Principal for his
diversion from the ‘norm’.
syllabus is designed such that there is no time to teach human values.
have noticed learners at our school have never really been taught critical
thinking, and lack problem solving. There
is a new era of teaching awaiting everybody!
while educators did not reject promoting critical thinking as a bad idea,
they did not fully engage with the vision, nor believe it was practical in
the context of their understanding of teaching and learning.
Figure 22: Considering Critical Thinking…
Source: Educator Participatory Workshop
The Values Report suggests a
clear link between values promotion in schools and ‘openness’ in the
form of creative engagement, expression, and participation.
The report suggests a wide range of extracurricular programming
designed to build democratic values in young people – popular sports
programming, drama, music, other arts and culture, community projects,
library development, popular history, debate clubs.
Learners, parents, and educators all support the intention of
opening pathways for creativity, participation, and teamwork in schools.
They emphasise the current lack of such avenues in schools.
The workshop processes in themselves revealed the lack of forums
for creativity and participation, and the eagerness all school stakeholder
have for these forums.
Figure 23: Highlighting the Importance of Sports in Education
The Values Report emphasises the ‘value’ of ‘accountability.’ Within accountability, the Report emphasises the concepts of responsibility and excellence, as well as legitimate and vibrant democratic governance of schools.
The largest group of educators (44% of 1002) understand ‘accountability’ as the ‘ability to account’ or explain your actions and behaviours within a disciplinary system. They say that when you are accountable, you will be able to explain your actions if they are questioned. A small additional group of educators (6%) went further to say that accountability meant that you could provide satisfactory records and documentation to defend your behaviour. A large group of educators associated ‘accountability’ with a sense of responsibility – both an internal sense of responsibility or ‘maturity’ (29%) and an external sense of responsibility and reliability to school stakeholders (15%).
83% of educators (N=1315) indicate that they believe that ‘accountability’ is promoted at their school, while 93% believe that it is promoted in their classrooms. Educators who believe accountability is promoted in their school and classroom say that teachers are encouraged to be professional, and learners are encouraged to work hard. A large group of educators associated accountability closely with upholding learner discipline. The majority of educators said that ‘accountability’ is not in conflict with their own values (85%) and is ‘practical’ in the school context (83%). Approximately one quarter of educators (23%) say that there are barriers to promoting accountability in school. Educators say that the barriers to promoting accountability are the ‘people who don’t want to be responsible.’ They point to educators who come late, parents who ‘cover for their children’ and don’t hold their children responsible, learners who are ‘undisciplined’, and principals who do not do their duties.
While learners did not frequently speak of ‘accountability’ per se, they placed special emphasis on the importance of educators, in particular, modelling values in practice. Learners describe how educators ‘preach’ one set of values and publicly practise another. In one school, learners developed a list of the values they thought were present in their community. Noticing that the list contained mainly negative values, the facilitator asked if there were any positive values learners saw in their community. One learner replied, ‘There are good values in our community, but there are very few people who practise them.’ Educators preach non-violence, and then practise violence. Educators preach discipline, and then arrive in class late, or unprepared. A large number of learners spoke with passion of their desire for educators who, ‘walk the talk’ of their values:
starts with the school kids by doing their homework and then goes upwards,
not only to the Head of Department, but to the Department of Education in
whatever they are saying.
should be motivated to work. They
must arrive at school on time. Teachers
should attend classes. Teachers who beat learners should be fired.
smoke next to the children. This
shows lack of discipline by teachers.
This will encourage learners to smoke, since at the school is where
one learns good values.
should not be allowed to drink and smoke with learners.
The Values Report links the value of ‘accountability’ with a secure learning environment (DoE, 2000: 43). While they did not associate ‘accountability’ with security per se, educators, learners, and parents emphasise the importance of school safety and the absence of fear – both as a ‘value’, and as a necessary pre-condition for building positives values in the school environment. They link safety to issues of ‘respect’, whereby a school that ‘respects’ learners and educators will ensure their safety. They suggest several ways to build school safety - from physical infrastructure (fences and alarm system) to operational systems (security guards, providing transport home for parents from night meetings, and better intervention mechanisms for ‘violent’ and ‘unruly’ learners).
need secure institutions for educators.
Our institutions are not secure enough and we are not protected.
Even the equipment that we have should be secured from burglary.
Lastly, we need protectional rules for educators to handle …
unruly behaviour from learners.
are learning in crime-ravaged South Africa, which is affecting our school.
In a school, safety should be a value because if there is no
security it affects the kids psychologically and demoralises the teachers.
The Values Report identifies ‘multilingualism’ as a value. Past research and school migration trends have suggested that parents, given the centrality of English to the South African economy, have valued English at the expense of multilingualism. However, in the course of talking about values, both learners and parents placed an emphasis on multilingualism, linking multilingualism to both deeper communication and understanding at schools, as well as deeper cultural confidence of learners. Thus, even more than a ‘value’, parents in particular appear to consider multilingualism as a pathway to democratic values in schools.
There were some parents who were particularly articulate about the importance of multilingualism, and their concern that schools and the society at large are in practice, undermining, rather than supporting, multilingualism:
would like to disagree with the parent who said we should stop teaching
our children our own languages so that they can be employable.
South Africa is the only country in the world that teaches her
children to master foreign languages such as English, and undermines their
own languages. It is time for
our children to know their culture and languages; be employed and
interviewed in their own languages. It
is a pity that our children in the land of their ancestors, if they
can’t speak English it means they are stupid and can’t find
Educators appear to support the intention of multilingualism in schools, but are more split on their definition of multilingualism, and the extent to which they consider multilingualism practical in the context of their schools (Figure 24). Some educators were committed to multilingualism, and pointed to practical efforts to build multilingualism in their schools:
our school] we teach the children to be multilingual, because we have a
lot of different cultures and children in our classes. If they can learn to speak Xhosa, Afrikaans, English and
Tswana this would be an advantage to them.
Other educators were more hesitant or evasive about the implications of multilingualism. Almost one third of educators did not think that educators should be required to learn an African language. A similar number did not consider monolingualism to impede access to knowledge.
Educators were not asked to define multilingualism, but rather to respond to the following idea:
people say that schools should foster multilingualism.
This means that learners should have an initial grounding in mother
tongue learning. It may mean
that in South Africa all learners should learn three languages, and at
least one African language.
Almost one third (28%) of educators (N=1013) said that this idea was in conflict with their own values in some way. Most of these educators did not elaborate on why it was in conflict with their own values. Some educators said that ‘two languages is enough.’ Over one third (38%) thought that this idea would not be practical in their schools. One sub-group of these educators say that the lack of resources makes this idea impractical. A smaller group say that it is impractical because ‘only certain languages’ are spoken in their community. 40% of educators see barriers in promoting this idea in their school. Most of them cite the lack of resources, and a lack of commitment to the idea of multilingualism at school.
The Values Report emphasises the importance of ‘honour.’ The report locates ‘honour’ within a civic republican notion of national citizenship, emphasising the balance of individual and community needs. The report relates ‘honour’ to a sense of pride in being South African. While educators accept the proposition that schools should be responsible for building good citizens for tomorrow, (82% (N=1068) of educators are comfortable with this proposition), they do not associate ‘honour’, per se, with this challenge.
The large majority of educators understands ‘honour’ to be associated with ‘respect’, ‘being respected’, and being recognised and appreciated for hard work and achievement (67% of 1144). Smaller groups associate ‘honour’ with ‘honesty’ (12%) and ideas closely related to ‘noble action’ and ‘right action’ (10%). There was a discourse of ‘accountability’ woven through ‘honour’, as ‘honour’ was associated with the active recognition of both achievement and non-performance.
84% of educators believe that their school promotes ‘honour’, and 96% of educators believe that they promote ‘honour’ in their classrooms. At a school level, educators struggled to give examples of the practice of ‘honour’. A large group of educators answered in general terms explaining the school ‘is trying’ (38%). Another large group associates a school’s emphasis on ‘discipline’ and ‘order’ with their commitment to ‘honour’ (25%). 17% of educators cite examples of mechanisms to recognise effort and achievement. Small numbers of educators cite examples of honouring elders and the community, exposing misdeeds, and freedom of expression. Similar examples were given at the classroom level. The largest group of educators associated ‘honour’ in the classroom with an emphasis on ‘discipline’ and rules. A large number of educators associated the recognition of effort (16%) as well as praise and encouragement (15%) as ways of building ‘honour’ in the classroom. A relatively large group of educators associated the practice of ‘honour’ with equity (14%) (and particularly with treating people the same) and ‘respect’ (4%). Another group of educators (11%) associated building ‘honour’ in the classroom with educators setting an example through their own behaviour.
The educators who do not think that their school is promoting honour, associate this with two problems. First, they perceive that the lack of discipline among learners, combined with too many ‘rights’ for learners, undermines a school’s ability to promote honour. Secondly, they perceive that educators’ achievements and hard work are not recognised or praised.
the concept was not always framed as ‘honour’, learners, parents, and
educators continually emphasised the link between the recognition of
effort and achievement, and building values in schools.
Schools that go out of their way to recognise effort and
achievement were perceived to have more respect than schools that had no
system of acknowledgement. Learners and educators speak of feeling de-motivated when
they go the ‘extra mile’ and it goes unnoticed.
Educators were the most vocal in expressing the importance of recognition. While educators feel that they acknowledge and celebrate the efforts and successes of learners, they feel that their own efforts and successes go largely unnoticed, that they are seen as ‘part of the job’. Educators express a strong desire for their extra efforts to be recognised within their own schools, as well as by parents and other members of the community.
work has to be appreciated by giving teachers merit awards.
The government should keep the working of the teacher at heart.
want to be respected by the community [for the work we are doing].
is great deal of recognition for children, but there is very little
recognition for the teachers who perform extra classes outside the
curriculum. They work beyond
hours and it is a great sacrifice, but there is no recognition.
children do things, they are acknowledged, but when teachers do things it
is accepted as their duty, even if it’s beyond the curriculum.
The Values Report suggests that rituals and symbols of national loyalty are important to democratic values development. In the course of the participatory workshops, there was no mention of the importance of such rituals or symbols in the context of the promotion of values. When asked about these ideas in the educator questionnaire, a majority of the educators were in support of the suggestions (Figure 25), with greater support given to the display of the flag than to the declaration of a pledge of loyalty.
of honour other than the flag, and rituals encouraging honour other than
the pledge were mentioned, mainly with regard to initiation rites (Figure
Figure 26: Respect and Initiation in the Eastern Cape
Field Worker Reflection Notes
Figure 27: Summary of Values Report Concepts and Understandings
Educators were not asked to define their understanding of
to go to: 7. Current
and Desired Values in Schools
(Chapters 7 and 8)
 See Section 6.1 below.
 Or Strongly Agree
 The word ‘tolerance’ was not used. A statement framed several questions. Questions included: 1) Is this idea in conflict with your own values in any way?; 2) In your opinion, is this idea practical in this school?; 3) Are there barriers to promoting this idea in your school?
 Or Strongly Agree
 Or Strongly Disagree
 The word ‘openness’ was not used. A statement framed several questions. Questions included: 1) Is this idea in conflict with your own values in any way?; 2) In your opinion, is this idea practical in this school?; 3) Are there barriers to promoting this idea in your school?
 Or Strongly Agree
 Or Strongly Agree