Equity, Participation and Opportunity in Desegregated Schools: A Critical Race Perspective

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This paper reports on the desegregation of South African schools post apartheid. One of the consequences of this desegregation is racially diverse schools. Racially diverse schools resulted from efforts instituted by the government to desegregate schools that were historically separated along racial lines. This paper comprising of rich and detailed excerpts from the narratives of teachers explores how equity, participation and opportunity are complexly intertwined with issues meritocracy, assimilation and dysconcious racism. From a theoretical perspective, the paper uses Critical Race Theory (CRT) to confront the politics of education in racially diverse schools by analyzing and theorizing what it means to teach a racially diverse class. We use the persistent and historical construct of race to analyze teacher experiences. CRT provides a valuable tool with which to engage with relentless racial inequities that plague racially diverse South African schools.

Firstly, we offer a description of the context in which the interaction occurs by focussing on the shift in racial demographics of the schools, and explain how teachers racialised identities act as filters for the assimilation of black learners to conform to “acceptable” standards. We then present how teachers in particular school systems maintain apartheid style divisions using colour-blindness and meritocracy to perpetuate racism. Finally, we look at moments of possibilities that empower teachers to better understand and challenge the salience of race in diverse classrooms.


Keywords: Assimilation, Meritocracy, Dysconcious Racism, Critical Race Theory
Stream: Equity, Social Justice and Social Change; Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Kiron K. Gokar

Educator, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, Stanger M L Sultan Secondary School
STANGER, KWAZULU NATAL, South Africa

I a fifth year Doctoral student at the University of KwaZulu Natal. Currently I teach Science and Biology at a Secondary school in Stanger. My research focus stems from a desire to explore the experiences of teachers in racially divese schools. I atended the school at which I now teach. During my era, the school was exclusively Indian in terms of learners and educators. Today, the demographics have chnaged drastically. The learner populaion is almost 90% African but the teacher demographics are more or less static. As an educator at the school, I am interested in the experiences of teachers in the post-aparthied, racially diverse schools.

Dr. Daisy Pillay

Academic, Senior Lecturer, School of Education and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Dr Daisy Pillay is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, UKZN. As one of the senior staff in the School of Education and Development, she currently serves as the Discipline Chair for Teacher Education and Professional Development. In this position she co-ordinates, lectures, supervises and promotes scholarship in post-graduate studies in this critical and under-researched dimension in South African education. She is currently leading a South African National Research Foundation project towards Understanding mentoring relationships during school-based teaching practice in KwaZulu-Natal

Ref: L09P0375