The character of the multicultural education discussion in South Africa

SOURCE: Learning from difference: comparative accounts of multicultural education
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Soudien, C.McKinney
SOURCE EDITOR(S): J.Lo Bianco, A.Bal
DEPARTMENT: Office of the CEO (ERM), Office of the CEO (OCEO), Office of the CEO (IL), Office of the CEO (BS), Office of the CEO (IA)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9613

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South Africa, as a country of great diversity, presents itself at first glance as an obvious place for the development of a multicultural policy. Its diversity is, moreover, of a kind that has caused immense difficulty politically and economically. But it does not have a specific multicultural education policy. Why this is so and what approaches the South African polity has taken to the question of diversity is what this contribution seeks to make clear. The chapter begins with a sociological description of South Africa. Important in this exposition is indicating how tightly bound up with political struggle the question and the description and analysis of social difference are. The chapter provides a description of the South African education system and its policy with respect to the questions of social and cultural difference. It then moves to an examination of the multicultural debate and an assessment of the value of this debate for both engaging with the questions of social difference and the complex ways in which power is instantiated in the debate itself. The importance of this discussion is about a recognition of the complexity of sociology itself and how this complexity, in terms of what it sees and does not see, is identified and articulated, and then mobilized and appropriated.