Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Weldon, Constance Gail firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-09242009-234215 Document Title A comparative study of the construction of memory and identity in the curriculum in societies emerging from conflict : Rwanda and South Africa Degree PhD Department Education Management and Policy Studies Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Dr J Nichol Supervisor Prof J D Jansen Supervisor Keywords
- education policy
- post-conflict societies
- transition societies
- South Africa
- curriculum change
- history education
Date 2009-09-07 Availability unrestricted AbstractOne of the most common struggles of societies emerging from violent conflict is the struggle to re-invent or re-imagine the ‘nation’. In the process, the critical question becomes: what to do with the traumatic knowledge of the past? Education policy becomes a crucial arena for asserting political visions for a new society and for signalling a clear break with the past - the history curriculum the means through which new collective memories and identities are both reflected and asserted.
The purpose of this study is to understand how two African societies, Rwanda and South Africa, in transition from a traumatic past, re-invent or re-imagine themselves as they emerge from conflict. The particular focus is the intersection between the politics of memory and identity and education policy in the form of the history curriculum.
The construction of curricula in post-conflict societies is an under researched facet in the field of curriculum development and education policy. While there are studies on the curriculum of transition from socialist to post-socialist states or colonial to post-colonial regimes or routine changes of government in capitalist democracies there are very few studies which examine societies that have experienced the transitional trauma arising from internecine racial conflict that was culturally embedded at all levels as the focus of curriculum analysis – and how in such societies issues of memory and identity are both reflected and contested through what is taught.
The main research question for this study focuses on how post-conflict societies re-conceptualise/re-imagine themselves through the medium of the schools’ curriculum. Ancillary questions include the ways in which memory and identity are constructed and to what purpose; how societies emerging from conflict deal with the traumatic knowledge of the past; and how curriculum reflects and asserts the new identities.
The research methodology included historical research; the analysis of key education policy documents; workshop observation and the analysis of evaluations and focussed responses; and group interviews. Being intimately involved in South African curriculum change, the theory of situated learning provided a valuable context for the analysis of the South African data.
The study breaks new ground in that it is the first comparative African case study research on how societies emerging from violent conflict engage with a traumatic past. Secondly, it is the first study to take the legacy of trauma after identity-based conflict into account. What have been underlined by this study are the complexities of educational change and the fragility of post-conflict societies. The deep inequalities which remain after the conflict has been settled need to be taken into account, but seldom are, in the construction of post-conflict education policy and in teacher development. Importantly, the study also raised questions about the extent to which identities formed within a conflict society, filter curriculum knowledge in post-conflict classrooms.
The main findings to emerge from the research are firstly, that the depth, direction and pace of curriculum change in post-conflict societies is conditioned by the terms that settled the conflict; secondly the nature of the emergent state and the character of regional or provincial politics sets limits as well as possibilities for curriculum change and implementation; and that in a post-conflict society, theories of change need to move beyond the formal curriculum to take into account the historical meanings of identity within the national context.
© 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.
Please cite as follows:
Weldon, G 2009, A comparative study of the construction of memory and identity in the curriculum in societies emerging from conflict : Rwanda and South Africa, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09242009-234215/ >
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