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Columbia University

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


This project seeks to examine the place of private schools in preparing young women for a future in the new South Africa. Specifically, this project focuses on high school learners at South African Girls’ School (SAGS) in Durban, South Africa. By examining ways of learning, succeeding and fitting in at SAGS as well as perceptions of a democratic South Africa and how the learners at this school see themselves fitting into the future of their country, we gain a fuller understanding of what it means to be a citizen of this country for a group that is not often studied. By looking at certain aspects of everyday life at SAGS, we can see how the hidden curriculum of the school shapes girls’ understandings of themselves, each other and their country. As is always the case in South Africa, race remains a salient issue. By looking at where there is integration and where there is separation, we can begin to understand which divisions within society will be the most durable. As most of the existing literature argues, at SAGS it is clear that racial segregation still exists and is institutionalized; however, most students are able to find a way to feel at home and comfortable within the institution. Through this work of understanding how young girls are shaped by (but also play an active role in shaping) the institution in which they have spent most of their lives, important information is added to the literature on what it means to grow up in a transforming South Africa.


Community-Based Research | Education | Educational Sociology | Elementary Education and Teaching | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


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