Critical theory and school governance : advancing an argument for democratic citizenship

Adams, Faried
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Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
In this dissertation I critically explore school governance in relation to a liberal conception of deliberative democracy incorporating an argument for democratic citizenship. The notion of decentralisation and representative democracy informed collective decision making with the advent of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. This emphasis on participatory democracy aims to enhance nation building/citizenship as South Africa endeavours to sever its ties with its Apartheid past. Entrenched in the practice of representative democracy particularly in the context of schools is educational governance implemented through School Governing Bodies (SGBs). I argue that the legitimate learner and parent voices seem to be excluded from SGB practices – a notion which reinforces the presence of weak democratic practices. My concern is that SGBs in disadvantaged communities do not necessarily adhere to the tenets of democracy as accentuated in the Constitution of South Africa, incorporating the Bill of Rights and the South African Schools Act (SASA of 1996). A weak form of democratic practice seems to manifest itself when the SASA and the implementation thereof are inconsistent with each other, resulting in school governance practices operating in a manner contrary to what the Act purports. The promotion of democracy customarily involves protecting the legitimate (individual and community) interests of all. It is in this context that this dissertation attempts to find a route towards stronger democratic practices, therefore endorsing some of the principles of the South African Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the SASA. I argue that SGB practices seem to undermine these legitimate interests thus posing a dilemma for democracy. In addition current SGBs do not seemingly establish conditions according to which deliberative democratic practices can be achieved. And, unless SGBs also connect deliberative practices with citizenship as well as to “experiencing what is Other”, it would remain weakly democratic. For deliberative practices to happen I propose that conditions ought to be established whereby reasonableness and the incorporation of “the Other”, that is, learners and parents need to be included through pedagogic attentiveness – what can epistemologically referred to as “witnessing the “unknowability of the Other”, can counter such a weak democracy. In other words by including the marginalised voices that are seemingly excluded from SGBs, the potential to move towards strong democratic practices shall be enhanced.
Thesis (PhD (Education Policy Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
Liberal democracy, Citizenship, Globalisation, School governance, Dissertations -- Education, Theses -- Education