Original Research

Managing diversity in schools: The place of democratic education and ubuntuism in South Africa

Bunmi I. Omodan, Olugbenga A. Ige
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 17, No 1 | a854 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v17i1.854 | © 2021 Bunmi I. Omodan, Olugbenga A. Ige | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2020 | Published: 24 June 2021

About the author(s)

Bunmi I. Omodan, School of Social Sciences and Language Education, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Olugbenga A. Ige, School of Social Sciences and Language Education, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

South African classrooms were highly diversified. The problem, however, was that although democracy has been a critical characteristic of South Africa for over two decades, it is still a very vague concept to many. A teacher who truly understood democracy knew that it was not just about freedom of self, rather the freedom of all, treating others humanely and with kindness. Making power a variable accessible by all was the only way to which diversities can be ameliorated. Observation and personal experiences showed that there were discriminations of many kinds in some high schools. Therefore, to address these maladies, the importance of democracy in diversity must not be jettisoned because they work hand-in-hand. Ubuntu philosophy was used as a theoretical framework, whilst transformative paradigm piloted the study. Participatory research (PR) was adopted as a research design to enable the people student-teachers to jointly participate in this research. Observation and reflections were used to collect data within the high schools in the Free State province of South Africa. Thomas and Harden’s three steps of thematic analysis was used to analyse data and the result show that language, cultural and personal relativism, learning impairment and comprehensibility were the dominant challenges faced in diversity management in schools. On the other hand, inculcation of classroom relationships and a sense of belonging, training and retraining of teachers and students were found to be perfect solutions that can nip these problems in the bud. The present study, therefore, concluded that the value of teachers’ and students’ development towards diversity management must be addressed.

Keywords

diversity; diversity management; democratic education; ubuntu; secondary school.

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