Equity, Participation and Opportunity in Desegregated Schools: A Critical Race Perspective
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
Dr Kiron K. Gokar
Educator, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, Stanger M L Sultan Secondary School
Prof. Daisy Pillay
Academic, Senior Lecturer, School of Education and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal