DOI: 10.3390/educsci14030297 ISSN: 2227-7102

But We Do Not Know Anything, We Were Born in This Predicament: Experiences of Learners Facing Xenophobia in South Africa

Bekithemba Dube, Wendy Setlalentoa
  • Public Administration
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

In this article, we discuss the experiences of learners who face xenophobia in South Africa. While extensive research has been conducted on xenophobia, few studies have specifically examined its impact on school-going children, whose presence at school is not by design in South Africa. We explore their lived experiences within the curriculum, thus exposing various trajectories that hinder effective teaching and learning. To theorise our findings, we tap into Whitehouse and Lanman’s notion of social cohesion. For data collection, we used a participatory action research approach. Through a series of interviews and group discussions, we engaged with a diverse group of 13 participants, which consisted of 10 migrant learners and 3 teachers. The study found that xenophobia is a significant social pathology in South Africa which found its way into the classroom walls, thereby affecting the performance of migrant learners. It affects the victim’s identity and has profound consequences for the perpetrators. Ultimately, the effects of xenophobia contribute to a cycle of school violence. We assert the imperative of addressing the distressing impact of xenophobia on children within classrooms. Based on our findings, we argue that initial teacher education programmes are key in fostering a non-violent society through promoting cohesion and cultural responsiveness.

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