Making a new South African learner: An analysis of the South African schools act
This paper interrogates the relationship between South Africa’s most important piece of educational policy, the South African Schools Act (SASA) (Republic of South Africa, 1996b), and learner identity. It seeks to understand how this central piece of South African educational legislation foreshadows, intersects with, foregrounds, prescribes and/or disturbs dominant notions of South African learner identity. What does the SASA say about the South African learner and particularly about what it expects the learner to be? The perspective used in this paper is that identity is constructed from history, memory, social and cultural institutions and power apparatuses. The specific interest of the paper is not to look so much at the mediation of identity in its practical forms, as in actual interchanges between subjects in the classroom, but to develop an understanding of the symbols and signifiers that are privileged in the formal and legal prescripts that surround the process of mediation. What significance this holds for the achievement of equality and justice in South Africa is what is explored here.