South African educational system faces many challenges even in the post-apartheid era (Sefotho, 2018). This essay will focus on the issue of poor discipline in South African schools. In this essay, I will discuss the causes of poor discipline in schools, its implication in the education system, and also what sustains the problem.
There are different factors that lead to lack of discipline in South African schools. One of the biggest distresses of democratic South Africa is the lack of real change within its education system (Nyoka, DuPlooy, & Henkeman, 2014). The abolishment of corporal punishment in South African schools is one of the causes of lack of discipline in South African schools (NEWS 24, 2012). This has led to learners being disrespectful to teachers as they know they cannot beat them. The abolishment of corporal punishment is believed to have been the biggest mistake made in the South African education system.
In their article, (Mohapi, 2014) states that not only learners must be blamed for poor discipline but also teacher behaviour and home environment involving poor parent involvement. (Mohapi, 2014) Further explains that teachers must understand that sometimes the behaviour of the learner is guided by their behaviour e.g. if a teacher is late for class then the learner will think that it is okay to be late.
Poor discipline has affected schools in many different ways. Poor discipline hinders effective teaching and learning thus leading to poor quality education (Mohapi, 2014). Most teachers, especially those teaching in overcrowded classrooms spend most of their time trying to keep noise levels down than actually teaching. This not only affects ill-disciplined learners only but also learners that are disciplined. A lot of socio-economic issues such as poverty, crime, and drug and alcohol abuse lead to the issue of poor discipline in schools.
Ubuntu is humanist philosophy which focuses on how people relate to each other and it is translated in English as “humanity” (Ubuntu, 2010). The phrase “motho ke motho ka batho” is commonly used when talking about the philosophy of Ubuntu and it means “I am because you are. According to (Sefotho, 2018), Ubuntu mean being human, showing respect towards others and being empathetic.
This philosophy of Ubuntu aims at bringing people of Africa together as one. It provides Africans with a sense of self-identity and self-respect (Nabudere). This African philosophy is very important in education because it guides people on how they need to conduct themselves and relate with other people on daily bases. Since most South African schools struggle with the issue of discipline, Ubuntu philosophy can help schools by instilling its values onto the learners, teachers and parents. Learners will know that for them to be considered human beings they must respect other people and they must also learn the difference between right and wrong behaviour.
The Ubuntu philosophy must be practiced in South African schools as it will not only empower the school as a whole but also the community as a whole. The Ubuntu philosophy means helping one another (Nabudere) and if this is practiced in communities, the social imperative of lack of discipline in schools will be addressed as learners facing socio-economic issues such as poverty and crime will be helped by their community members.
Most learners in schools are not disciplined because they feel like they are on their own or that the teacher does not like them. The Ubuntu philosophy holds the value of inclusion very dearly (Nabudere). If learners feel included in the school, classroom and in their communities, then they may be more disciplined and interested in their school work.
As they saying goes, to every good there is bad and the same goes with the philosophy of Ubuntu. According to (Hailey, 2008) Ubuntu philosophy has a dark side which is that it demands an “oppressive conformity and group loyalty.”
John Dewey was born in 1959 and was a philosopher who believed in the movement of progressivism (Vakalisa & Gawe , 2016). Dewey emphasized that education must be based on the interests of the learners, their personal experiences and engaging lessons.
The philosophical movement of John Dewey which is progressivism focuses on the interest of the learners in a lesson. Many South African schools struggling with discipline must adopt this principle. Teachers must plan their lesson looking at the interests of their learners. This will help with the issue of discipline as learners will be able to focus during the lesson if they are interested.
Experiential learning is the most important and effective way in which learners can become active in the classroom. Dewey stresses the importance of experiential learning because it helps the learner in the classroom to be more active and disciplined.
The other principle that the movement of progressivism focused on was learner engagement. The social imperative of poor discipline in South African schools can be addressed by this principle because when learners are engaged and feel included during the lesson they are likely to misbehave.
John Dewey’s philosophy of progressivism was criticized because it is learner-centered, whereas the educational system does not involve the learners only (Cozzarelli, 2017). The other critique that progressivism faced is that not all learners are naturally curious about learning so they need to be guided (Evers, 1998).
- Cozzarelli, T. (2017, May 9). A Marxist Critique of John Dewey: The Limits of Progressive Education. Retrieved from Left Voice: http://www.leftvoice.org
- Evers, W. (1998, October 30). How Progressive education gets it wrong. Retrieved from Hoover Digest: http://www.hoover.org
- Hailey, J. (2008). Ubuntu: A literature review. London.
- Mohapi, S. J. (2014). Teachers’ View on Causes of Ill-Discipline in Three Rural Secondary Schools of Nkangala District of Education. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 433-437.
- Nabudere, D. (n.d.). Ubuntu Philosophy. Memory and Reconciliation.
- NEWS 24. (2012, August 24). news24. Retrieved from news24.com: https://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Lack-of-Discipline-in-Schools-20120824
- Nyoka , A., DuPlooy, E., & Henkeman, S. (2014). Reconciliation for South Africa’s education system. ELM MAGAZINE.
- Sefotho, M. M. (2018). Philosophy in education and research. Pretoria: Van Schaik publishers.
- Ubuntu. (2010). Little drops. Retrieved from Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.thiyagaraaj.com
- Vakalisa, N. C., & Gawe, N. (2016). Teaching-learning dynamics. Cape Town: Pearson.