Education for democratic participation : an analysis of self-education strategies within certain community organisations in Cape Town in the 1980's

Doctoral Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

The presented dissertation studies informal and nonformal educational processes within three community organisations, which have formed a part of a broader social movement in Cape Town at a particular historic 'moment'. The specific aim of the study has been to describe and explain the self-educational practices within community organisations at a particular historical juncture. Self-education is defined as a conscious strategy which is used by members of community organisations to develop the capabilities of their own membership to participate fully in the management and administration of their organisations. The study therefore focuses on strategies used within community organisations for the imparting of participatory democratic leadership skills. The study is illuminative and explanatory rather than evaluative. The findings of the study show that education for democratic participation is a central concern for the organisations and for community adult educators internationally. However the investigation has revealed that 'democratic participation' has a wide range of meanings which are continuously negotiated and contested. They are determined by a range of economic, political, social, historical and ideological forces at a particular 'moment'. Essential components for both the practice and the analysis of education for democratic participation were found to be action which can consist of either service delivery or political action or both; democratic participatory practices, which entail collective participation in decision-making, in planning and evaluation, sharing of information and skills, and joint responsibility for staff appointments; coherent theoretical knowledge if the organisation to is maintain an advocacy role in the community. The five analytical tools which were developed for the investigation, namely 'action', 'critical reflection', 'theoretical knowledge', 'participatory democratic processes' and the 'relationship between macro and micro organisational contexts', provided useful mechanisms for probing the political and social theories imbedded within the organisations. The importance of the 'tools' was that they focused attention on some of the major contradictions within nonformal and informal education within community organisations. The 'tools' also captured the dynamic, dialectical processes which are ·integral to the educational practices within community organisations. While the study did not set out to develop analytical tools which would have wider, more general usage in the analysis of community adult education, this has been a significant outcome of the research.

Includes bibliographical references.