n Educare - Democracy's next generation - education for democratic citizenship in South African public schools

Volume 32, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 0256-8829



Learners are not born with an understanding of the principles of democracy. However, as citizens of the future they have to be prepared for their future responsibilities as citizens of a democratic society. Many institutions help to develop citizens' knowledge and skills and shape their civic character and commitments: family, religious institutions, the media and community groups exert important influences. Schools, however, bear a special and historic responsibility for the development of civic competency and responsibility. Schools are needed as much for political as for educational reasons: on the school, more than upon any other institution, will depend the quality and nature of the citizenship of the future. The notion that South African schools have a distinctively civic mission has been recognised with the introduction of the Revised National Curriculum Statement (2002). Closer scrutiny of the introductory remarks above reveals the existence of a number of problems. The first problem centres around the question of how public schools in South Africa, charged with delivering democratically-inspired programmes on citizenship, should meet the challenge. The second problem centres around the question of how a public school as a whole can work to ensure that education for democratic citizenship is more than an idealistic ambition. The main aim of this article is to sensitise the policymakers, curriculum developers and educational administrators involved in drafting a blueprint for education for citizenship in South African public schools, to the need to gain independent and well-reasoned knowledge of the different models of citizenship education and to assist teachers so that they will be able to successfully educate young South Africans for responsible citizenship using areas within the informal or hidden curriculum of public schools which have the potential for democratic citizenship education.

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