AND POLITICAL LITERACY
IN SOUTH AFRICA
Kogila A. Moodley and Heribert Adam
SOUTH AFRICA REPRESENTS both a promising transitional society from authoritarianism to democracy as well as a still deeply divided society. Citizenship education focuses on promoting constitutional values of nation building in an inclusive democracy. This differs from concerns of marginalized minorities in the immigration societies of the United States and Canada or xenophobia in Europe. This analysis (1) describes the official vision of citizenship education, (2) evaluates its problematic implementation and impact, as revealed in attitude surveys, and (3) probes the state of civil society, political participation, and commitment to democratic practices. While post-apartheid South Africa strictly adheres to constitutionalism, how entrenched democratic habits are has not yet been tested in a crisis.
Well-intentioned educational initiatives are overshadowed by contrary government practices that frequently defy the very ideals that a progressive constitution espouses. Problematic policies on HIV/AIDS, responses to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and violations of accountability and transparency undermine the educational programs. This “public curriculum” contrasts with the school syllabus and triggers cynicism and alienation from politics instead of active engagement. Political interest and participation in civil society have declined. In one of the most unequal societies, issues of democratic governance are relegated to the luxury of a