Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Managing Racial Integration in South African Public Schools: In Defence of Deliberative Racial Integration

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Managing Racial Integration in South African Public Schools: In Defence of Deliberative Racial Integration

Article excerpt

The issue of racial integration in South African schools after the first free and fair democratic elections and the introduction of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 1994 have been and still remain a thorny and challenging one. When the democratic government came into power, it inherited many unjust and segregatory policies from the previous apartheid government. Most of these were related to separate development, which included different education systems structured according to race, colour and ethnicity. During the apartheid era, there were 18 Departments of Education that corresponded with the different demarcations of race, colour, ethnicity, provinces and homelands. The new government amalgamated these into one national and nine provincial non-discriminatory Departments of Education for the purpose of creating a unitary, non-racial South Africa.

After the 1994 free and fair democratic elections, all public schools in South Africa were legally opened to all South Africans irrespective of race and other factors. Statutory demands brought about by South Africa's Constitution (Republic of South Africa, 1996a), the South African Schools Act (Republic of South Africa, 1996c), as well as the National Education Policy Act (Republic of South Africa, 1996b) now expect all South African schools to admit and accommodate learners from diverse backgrounds. The open admission of learners from different backgrounds and groupings is a test, as principals are called to change their old ways or styles of managing schools, which were authoritative and which could potentially undermine racial integration. They are expected to adopt new democratic management styles that accord other stakeholders such as the parents, learners and educators (owing to the principle of democratic participation) in the day-to-day management of public schools in South Africa.

Democratic management of schools is important because it involves all stakeholders concerned with education in developing policies on the day-to-day running of schools. This is in contrast to the authoritarian management style that only involved the principal in policy development and implementation. The phasing out of an authoritarian management style and its replacement by a democratic one, creates conducive conditions for all concerned citizens or stakeholders to express their views, through exercising deliberative democracy. This should in turn lead to the smooth management of racial integration in South African schools which result in the promotion of a non-racial, unitary and democratic South Africa.

The concept of deliberative racial integration could have positive implications for the management of racial integration in South African schools, because the notion deals largely with citizens, stakeholders or community members engaging each other as equals about how best they can solve or tackle problems in a reasonable and accountable way as a group.

Managing Racial Integration

Managing racial integration is a process that requires the eradication of discriminatory practices which are based on race. It is described as the policies and strategic plans for meeting the requirements of eradicating discriminatory practices based on race (Department of education, 1996: 25). According to the Department of Education (1996), Managing racial integration can also be regarded as radical culture shift for schools and their established ways of working (Department of education, 1996:25). Managing racial integration is an approach which is underpinned by building awareness of education management development as a foundation of transformation (Department of education, 1996: 40)

Managing racial integration is creating environmental conditions under which individuals from different racial background enjoy the rights to access and participation in aspects of the management and services of institutions eg schools (Department of education, 2001:10). These rights to access and participation must be reflected in the composition, outputs practices and culture of the institutions. …

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