Heike Niedrig: Multicultural Education and Apartheid – Educational Discourses in South Africa
Multicultural Education and Apartheid – Educational Discourses in South Africa Heike Niedrig, University of Hamburg, Germany Multiculturalism, the new name for apartheid! (Collins & Gillespie 1992) Apartheid curriculum policy may be regarded as an extreme form of ‘multicultural- ism’. (NEPI 1992: Curriculum report) During my research on the discourses around ‘multilingualism’ and on concepts for multilingual education in the Post-Apartheid-schools (1995-97), I was con- tinuously confronted with issues concerning the relationship between language and culture. In the South African context, these issues were highly charged emo- tionally; and while some of my informants were adamant that there was a strong connection between language and cultural identity, others would fiercely reject the notion of an innate linkage between the two and question the concept of ‘cul- tural identity’ altogether. My two quotes (above) indicate the historical and po- litical frame for the heated debate as does the following interview statement of a South African educational researcher: Apartheid is a negative benchmark for our debates about the appropriate educational response to difference. […] And since apartheid education used cultural difference as its ideological foundation, it is not at all surprising that South Africans are both at home in talking about education and cultural difference and repelled by it (Joe Mul- ler, interviewed in Moore, 1993). As a researcher in Comparative and Multicultural Education, I studied the South African educational discourse in order to contrast it with similar discourses in Germany. Basil Moore, an Australian based educational researcher and South African émigré, claims that the historical...
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