Looking others in the eye: rights and gender in South African education policy

Enslin, P. and Pendlebury, S. (2000) Looking others in the eye: rights and gender in South African education policy. Journal of Education Policy, 15(4), pp. 431-440. (doi: 10.1080/026809300413437)

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Through an examination of the concept of rights in emergent policy in South Africa, this article illustrates some of the ways in which philosophy can serve democratic policy in its pursuit of the public good. We argue that while the South African Schools Act establishes some of the institutional conditions for a rights-based educational system, inadequacies in the treatment of gender and rights in the new national curriculum threaten to undermine the vision of the public good in South Africa's new Constitution. How might a philosophical perspective contribute to policy formulation, analysis and implementation? Emergent educational policy in South Africa provides an illuminating case. Not surprisingly, rights feature prominently in post-apartheid policy. Yet apart from appeals to the Bill of Rights in South Africa's new Constitution (Republic of South Africa 1996a) and some legal discussions of rights in education, there has been little attempt to provide a coherent account of rights and their bearing on developing a better education system. This is a serious flaw because the concept of rights has a special status in policy: in South Africa at least, a proper treatment of rights is necessary for good policy. Inadequacies in the treatment of rights in post-apartheid education policy threaten to undermine the commitment of policy both to teaching rights and to rights-based educational practices. More seriously, the treatment of rights in some recent educational policy threatens to undermine the very vision it is aiming to realise - that is, the vision of educating citizens (women and men) for a flourishing democracy.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Enslin, Professor Penny
Authors: Enslin, P., and Pendlebury, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
Journal Name:Journal of Education Policy

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