South African teachers’ perceptions of citizenship education : an investigation of history teachers’ understandings of citizenship education while it is being re-conceptualized in post-apartheid curriculum changes
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
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This thesis investigates South African history teachers’ understandings of citizenship education while it is being reconceptualised in post-apartheid curriculum change. The main purposes are to examine how teachers understand citizenship education and thereby identify what concept of citizenship emerges as central in their understandings. It finally seeks to establish whether or not teachers’ conceptualizations of citizenship education match citizenship education as conceptualized in the present Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (2011). This thesis uses a qualitative methodological approach that includes semi-structured interviews to collect the data from the teachers’. It further uses discourse analysis in order to identify central discourses in teachers’ understandings of citizenship education. The thesis shows that teachers’ understandings of citizenship education include elements of nationalism, national identity, learning to act in the interest of the wider society, addressing past issues related to apartheid and the struggle for democracy, the law, rights and the constitution. The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement that is now in use in South Africa focuses on issues central to citizenship education, such as the learner as an individual, citizen identity, learners acting in the interest of their own life, addressing current issues in society, promotion of knowledge and skills in local contexts. This shows an important difference, where teachers’ understandings of citizenship education are mainly promoting citizenship as a legal and passive concept, while the curriculum holds a focus on citizenship education which promotes citizenship as a moral concept. The main conclusion of this thesis is that there are differences of understandings of citizenship education between the teachers and the curriculum, and consequently the meanings and purpose of the emerging concept of citizenship is being pulled in different directions. This indicates a need to make the curriculum citizenship education agenda more explicit as well as a need for the development of teachers’ professional awareness of what is to be expected from them regarding citizenship education. This thesis uses both primary and secondary sources to arrive at these conclusions.
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