n Africa Education Review - The role of Representative Councils for Learners in South African schools : maximal or minimal participation?




In 1999 the South African Department of Education issued guides for the Representative Councils for Learners established in terms of the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996). This article examines the usefulness of these guides in promoting democracy and education for citizenship in South African schools. The guides are located in the context of theories of participatory democracy, representation, and education for citizenship, and of the democratic strengths of the People's Education Movement of the 1980s. In this context, it is argued that the main tendency of the guides is to undermine democratic participation, and that their favoured conception of education for citizenship is minimalist. The article emphasises the need for a more maximalist approach to citizenship education, and for more scope for participatory democracy in schools.


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