The problem of indigenous parental involvement in education in South Africa

Year: 1994

Author: Mhlambo, Themba

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The previous Afrikaner Nationalist Party's policies of segregation, and the deliberate institutionalising and enforcement of Bantu education, have given rise to the production of "hundreds of thousands of illiterates and semi-literate blacks who lack effective control over their lives" (Nkomo, 1990:231). Through Bantu education, the government discouraged Africans from attaining and acquiring critical literacy skills for fear that "awareness of reality" would arouse critical consciousness, thus putting at risk the legitimacy of the government. Three possible solutions relating to the problem of illiteracy in the post-apartheid era, together with their advantages and disadvantages, are discussed in this paper.

These are respectively characterised as: (i) the "broad solution" in which the new government is expected by parents to tackle the problem of illiteracy; (ii) the "specific solution" in which the communities, through the parents, initiate and undertake literacy programs; and (iii) the "individual" solution whereby parents abdicate their responsibilities to individual teachers and tutors.