Learning About Controversial Issues in School History: The Experiences of Learners in KwaZulu-Natal Schools

Johan Wassermann


Under Apartheid, History was taught according to a positivist model in which it was claimed that “objective truthful History” was passed on to learners. Consequently, since both learners and teachers were expected to subscribe to History in an uncritical manner, educational engagement with controversial issues hardly ever occurred and multiple perspectives to topics were not explored. At face value at least, the idea was created that History was taught in a neutral manner. In reality, school History was dominated by an Apartheid paradigm, an Afrikaner Nationalist framework and content to support this. As a result History was used as a tool to legitimise Apartheid. Since 1994, the Apartheid educational legacy has been dismantled and a new curriculum, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS), and a new educational philosophy, Outcomes Based Education (OBE), have been implemented.

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