Social Identity Formation of Black Learners in South African Historically White Schools
This paper engages with the issues influencing the social identity formation of black learners attending multicultural schools, more specifically historically white schools (HWSs) in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Black South Africans were considered and treated as both intellectually and racially inferior during the apartheid years. This may have created a social identity dilemma for a number of generations of South African blacks. The situation was further exacerbated when black learners were admitted to HWSs. The staff component (mostly white) of HWSs appears to be inadequately prepared for these drastic changes. Consequently, the school that should normally contribute to developing a positive social identity formation of learners, seemingly has the opposite effect on black learners. An empirical investigation, by way of quantitative research, was employed to ascertain the issues influencing the social identity formation of black learners in HWSs. The authors, however, report on the data segment of 10 selected items pertaining to social identity formation, which was one of the components of an extensive doctoral study questionnaire, which was completed by 832 black learners enrolled at 27 HWSs in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Some of the findings (small scale study based on 10 selected items) indicate the manifestation of negative influences, low educator expectations, the disjuncture between home and school education, as well as the high failure and drop-out rate amongst black learners, as having an effect on the social identity formation of black learners. This paper proposes certain suggestions to be considered by HWSs in South Africa to possibly mitigate the issues and challenges associated with Black learners’ social identity formation.
Keywords - Social Identity, Historically Black Schools, Multicultural Education