Difficult relationships: how will compulsory School History and an Ubuntu-based curriculum help nationbuilding in South Africa?
MetadataShow full item record
Despite South Africa’s shift to democracy, there are ongoing difficulties in relationships both in the broader society and schools. An official response to this situation was the establishment of the History Ministerial Task Team (MTT), which recommended: that history should be made a compulsory subject for learners in all phases at school; and, that the history curriculum should be revised using an African nationalist paradigm, informed by the framework of Ubuntu. This article uses the findings of a research project conducted in history classrooms at three primary schools in Johannesburg to illustrate some of the difficulties in relationships in the history classroom. It argues that compulsory history at school level will not necessarily be a panacea for South Africa’s social ills, especially as this proposal has reawakened fears of how history education was abused during apartheid. A strength of the History MTT’s report is that it emphasises the importance of multi-perspectives in history, while favouring an approach that uses an African nationalist paradigm, informed by Ubuntu, to assist with nation-building. However, the notion of Ubuntu needs to be reconstituted, and when applied in conjunction with reconciliation pedagogy, it provides an alternative way, during teacher development workshops, for in- service history teachers to reflect on their own residual prejudices about “the other”, so that, in turn, they are able to facilitate meaningful changes in relationships in the history classroom. This approach might be applicable not only in South Africa, but also to history teachers in post-conflict countries which experience similar problems.