Inter-Religious Cooperation and its Challenges in Schools and Public Life in South Africa
After the collapse of apartheid, South Africa adopted a new political regime in 1994 that promoted democratic values to build a socially cohesive nation out of a fractured past. The post-apartheid state changed its education policies to reflect this democratic framework that recognised, appreciated, and accommodated the diverse reality of the country’s population. More specifically, Religion Education was incorporated into the school curriculum that focused on teaching and learning about “religion, religions, and religious diversity” (Chidester, 2003, p. 262). Religion Studies was a specialised subject for senior learners that formed part of the Religion Education curriculum. This paper will explore how the post-apartheid South African education policies recognise the value of Religion Studies and its role in creating inter-religious cooperation in the country’s schools and communities. I will explain the South African Schools Act and National Policy of Religion and Education as two key education policies that underpin the subject Religion Studies. However, while Religion Studies will be shown as aiming to build inter-religious cooperation, I will discuss that this is a challenging process considering that a strong Christian ethos is still promoted by some public schools in the country. I argue that Religion Studies has a transformative role in the South African classroom since it promotes the importance of values in transforming (inter-religious) relationships within schools and outside of them.
- Chidester, D. (2003). Religion Education in South Africa: Teaching and Learning About Religion, Religions, and Religious Diversity. British Journal of Religious Education, 25(4), 261–278.
- National Policy on Religion and Education (2003). Retrieved August, 1, 2018, from https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/religion_0.pdf
- The South African Schools Act. (1996). Retrieved from https://www.gdeadmissions.gov.za/Content/Files/SchoolsAct.pdf
- Schools should not adopt one religion to the exclusion of others – judge. (2017, June 28). News24. Retrieved from https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/schools-should-not-adopt-one-religion-to-the-exclusion-of-others-judge-20170628