Dr. Karin I. Paasche, an independent scholar, was formerly Coordinator of the English and Education Departments at the American University College of Technology in Lebanon. She is a Fulbright Scholar and earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University. She has taught education in universities in the United States, Oman, Qatar and Lebanon, where she was also responsible for in-service training of teachers. Dr. Paasche has contributed several articles on education in various African countries to the World Encyclopedia of Education and other scholarly journals.
2006 0-7734-5616-3 The language of education policy documents indicates the nature of the society South African educational policy-makers envisioned in a country where people from diverse backgrounds share the same geographical space. The language indicates how they perceived both themselves and the various groups in their society and points to concerns which, couched in similar-sounding terms as regimes have changed, often have the same ideological content and reflect the aspirations of the respective dominant group. Today, this is no longer the white minority, but what it has perhaps always been, the “first-world” – global – economy. South Africa’s educational policy documents from four periods are examined: the Period of Colonization 1652-1910; the Era of Segregation 1910-1948; Apartheid: the Years After 1948; 1994: the ANC, South Africa and a Government of National Unity.
Concepts of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ present in the non-homogenous society within which the documents were formulated are identified, as are the concerns underlying educational policies. Models developed by Van Dijk on the relevance of political, social and historical context in discourse analysis, by Halliday and Hasan on cohesion, by Fairclough on language as the carrier of ideology, by Lakoff and Johnson on experimental metaphors, and by Vaughan on dominant themes in discourse, are adapted to examine how the language used encodes, reflects, and creates the reality of South African society in general and of education policy in particular.
Language, Christianity and nationalism are identified as the underlying concerns. Their subservience to the economic interests of the dominant group raises questions as to the practical possibilities of changing meaning systems when prejudice and racism are institutionalized to serve the purposes of those wishing to retain economic dominance. This study demonstrates that despite political change, the style and register of the language used and the concerns underlying educational policies in South Africa are continuous and congruous.