Colour-conscious or colour-blind? : how a group of minority Xhosa learners experience and make sense of the "colour of race" in a predominantly coloured school in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study represents qualitative research on the experiences of inclusion and exclusion of a group of the minority Xhosa learners at a predominantly Coloured secondary school in Mitchells Plain, in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2004 and 2006. The South African Schools Act (1996) and the National Curriculum Policy document (2005), both underpinned by the Constitution of South Africa (1996), envision an education system free of any discrimination. This study uses a social justice framework to focus on how racial construction includes and excludes. It also outlines and discusses the three main models that the education ministry has worked with in its endeavour to achieve its transformative agenda. This research is a longitudinal study conducted in the qualitative paradigm. Data was collected by means of semi-structured individual questionnaires, individual and group informal interviews and participant observation. While the aim of the study was to gain the Xhosa learners' perspectives on the processes of inclusion and exclusion, it includes a response from the principal and five teachers' perspectives, to balance the study and add validity. Permission to conduct this research was obtained from the Western Cape Education Department. The principal of the site gave consent for the research to take place, and written consent was obtained from the teacher participants and the parents of the learner respondents. The data was analysed and presented according to the responses of the participants to the research questions, using grounded theory. The findings revealed that the Xhosa learners at the site still experience marginalisation, fourteen years after democracy, with racism being the most prominent form of injustice. This study recommends that the teachers undergo training in social justice education by the Western Cape Education Department.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 97-107).