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Skidmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


The Life Orientation program was implemented in South African high schools by The Department of Basic Education post-apartheid, to teach students about topics such as sexual and physical education, future career options, citizenship, and depending on the school, religion — a range of topics designed to prepare them to live healthy and productive adult lives. However, in practice the program is not always successful due to a lack of resources, teachers who are not trained to teach Life Orientation, and unmotivated students.

The purpose of this study was to examine the impact and effectiveness the Life Orientation program had on former students who now attend The University of Cape Town. I interviewed six current UCT students for this project. My participants attended high schools all over South Africa. Some went to public non-denominational schools, and others private schools affiliated with a religious institution. All of my data was collected through interviews, which I recorded on my cell phone.

The participants talked a lot about how they wished they had learned more practical life skills like doing their taxes and time management. They also talked about how beneficial it would have been to learn more about serious topics that would be applicable to their lives after they graduated university – like issues surrounding gender and sexuality. Although all of the participants said the Life Orientation curriculum needed to undergo changes in order to be more effective, it was still an important part of a high school education.


African Studies | Educational Sociology | Family, Life Course, and Society


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