The Siza Center: South Africa's reform effort to eliminate the educational and social effects of the Bantu Education Act, No. 47 of 1953

Bongani Vivian Thabethe, University of Pennsylvania


Apartheid, South Africa's institutional policy of racial segregation, officially ended in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of the country. Since the election of Mandela, the nation has struggled with the massive task of integrating the racially divided population. Reforming education is one of South Africa's strategies for achieving this task. South Africa is attempting to reform education that has placed the black population in a low economic and inferior social status in a white dominated capitalist system. ^ The Siza Center is one of the new education reforms. The Siza Center was established in Newcastle in 1988 to enhance the quality of life of the black communities. Siza is a Zulu word for `help.' To assess the contribution of the Siza Center in sponsoring the development of intellectual and democratic values in South Africa, my study uses Richard Gibboney's (1994) intellectual and democratic criteria for assessing the educational worth of a program. These criteria are rooted in John Dewey's theory of education. ^ The major findings of this study are as follows: First, the reforms of the Siza Center are driven by an activist orientation that calls for teachers to prepare students for life and participation in an intellectual and democratic society. Second, the reforms of the Siza Center are radically different from the reforms of the Bantu Education Act No. 47 of 1953, which typically ignored, and were hostile to, intellectual and democratic values. The reforms of the Siza Center represent the Mandela government's new education policy to embrace intellectual and democratic values. Third, the reforms of the Siza Center have positively influenced classroom practice and student learning. Finally, despite the existence of negative educational and social environments, the Siza Center is a significant social experiment in the attempted transformation of education in South Africa. In combination, these findings support the conclusion that the Siza Center reforms are consistent with Gibboney's criteria of intellectual and democratic worth. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Political Science, Public Administration

Recommended Citation

Thabethe, Bongani Vivian, "The Siza Center: South Africa's reform effort to eliminate the educational and social effects of the Bantu Education Act, No. 47 of 1953" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9912821.