Exploring Classism experiences of children in South African schools: a narrative inquiry.
Cele, Siyanda Mluleki Kenneth.
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Discrimination in society has shifted from racial discrimination to being class related discrimination due to our different socio-economic backgrounds, especially in schools. All forms of oppression have been abolished since 1994 as South Africa moved into a new democratic dispensation. However, classism is one of the forms of oppression that are commonplace in schools and is still gaining interest. Most of the research has focused on college students and very little research has addressed the experiences of classism of high school students. Hence, the present study provides an overview of the classism experiences of children in South African schools in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, with specific attention paid to learners from poverty-stricken backgrounds. The purpose of the study was not to make generalisations, but rather to explore the classism experiences of children in South African schools, proceeding to exploring the impact of classism on learners’ participation in their school’s activities. The study lastly determined the factors that promote the manifestation of classism in schools. The rationale for conducting this study is rooted in my personal experiences and observations as a school teacher in a secondary school in Durban. The study was influenced by the Theory of Intersectionality by Crenshaw (1989). A qualitative approach was used in this study. Moreover, this study was conducted using the critical paradigm as a lens for the research. A narrative inquiry design was utilised as it was appropriate since it allowed the participants to narrate their experiences of classism in their schools. The data were collected using the critical conversations method. Nine participants were purposively selected from three different schools in Durban, and in each school, three participants were selected. The findings of the study emphasise the fact that children from impoverished backgrounds are the victims of classism in schools. It is evident from the findings that children’s experiences of classism negatively impact their participation in their schools’ activities. Finally, the study concludes by suggesting that government, school stakeholders and society at large play a vital role in eliminating class discrimination in South African schools.