n South African Journal of Education - Black Grade 9 learners in historically white suburban schools and their experience of integration

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



Any school that denies that intercultural and interracial differences exist and that lacks effective accommodation strategies for all its learners could thwart learners' feelings of truly belonging to the school. This could leave them feeling like outsiders an experience that could have a negative impact on their school careers and future lives. This article investigates, from an educational psychological frame of reference, the situation of black Grade 9 learners in historically white suburban schools as learners in transition between two worlds, with specific reference to the individual, family and school/cultural dimensions. An in-depth look into the life-worlds of a group of such learners was obtained by means of a literature study, questionnaires and individual interviews. To ensure a holistic perspective on problems and possible solutions, an 18-factor culture general framework was used as a basis and applied to the South African situation. The study found that black Grade 9 learners attending historically white suburban schools faced difficult scholastic, social and emotional challenges. These included dealing with high scholastic demands whilst lacking the required educational background as well as financial, social and environmental resources; coping with or antipathy towards the Afrikaans language; a perceived "differentness" in habits and appearance and especially coming to terms with their experience of racism in school. Learners' strengths were also highlighted. The improvement of accommodation strategies by the school to promote multicultural and antiracist harmony in schools is discussed.

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