Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Joubert, Jacomina Christina firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-05202008-182045 Document Title The life experiences and understanding of children as citizens in a democratic South Africa Degree PhD (Learning Support, Guidance and Counselling) Department Early Childhood Education Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Prof I Eloff Co-Supervisor Prof L Ebersohn Supervisor Keywords
- democratic identity
- citizenship education
- Waghid's compassion / imaginative action
- democratic values
- democratic knowledge
- Dewey's building / learning community
- postcolonial theory
- transforming society theory
- South Africa
- social awareness
Date 2008-04-10 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis inquiry is the exploration and understanding of a case study: the nine-year-old learners of an inner-city school in South Africa and their experiences of democratic South Africa as citizens. Their expressions informed me on how they perceived their democratic identities and their understandings of their citizenship. From the acquired understandings and identities I sought to extend the current conceptions of citizenship education. This study was informed by the interpretivist paradigm and guided by a conceptual framework.
The nine-year-old learners expressed their identification with the South African democracy and its values such as social justice, which aligned with the South African ideal of social cohesion and nation-building. However, they expressed little knowledge about and no active participation in democratic processes. They expressed concern about their unsafe neighbourhood and the social injustices they encountered in their community. The young learners expressed the desire for change to transform South Africa into a ‘better nation’ to secure their and other citizens’ future.
Key findings confirmed statements made by scholars in this field: citizenship education has to acknowledge the life experiences of children in order to be meaningful (thus contextualize citizenship) and to assist young children to contribute to democracy. However, the democracy can only be sustained and strengthened if the learners are knowledgeable about democratic processes and possible threats to these processes. In addition, young children need to be participants in the democracy and not only observers. The nine-year-old learners expressed the passion to do what is expected of them but seemingly lacked the participatory skills and opportunities they needed.
© University of Pretoria
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