Op 14 Februarie 2016 kondig die minister van onderwys, Angie Motshekga, ’n taakspan aan
om stereotipering en ongelykheid ten opsigte van voorstellingspraktyke in skoolhandboeke te
ondersoek. Enkele soortgelyke ondersoeke oor handboeke is wel sedert 2003 gedoen. Hierdie
artikel lewer verslag oor so ’n studie wat in 2009 gedoen is. As ’n oorgangspublikasie vanaf
apartheid na demokratisering het die reeks, wat lank die topverkoper in die land was,
doelbewus die flagrante veralgemenings, uitsluitings en wanvoorstellings van die verlede
probeer regstel. Dit is belangrik dat daar kennis geneem word van hierdie navorsing en die
bevindinge daarvan, aangesien dit lig mag werp op die verantwoordelikheid van
skoolhandboekskrywers ten opsigte van positiewe kulturelevoorstellingspraktyke in Suid-
Afrika, soos deur die Minister se aankondiging weerspieël word.
Die kontekstualisering en die literatuurstudie ondersoek die verantwoordelikheid van
handboekskrywers in die konstruksie van sosiopolitiese paradigmas binne die dieper
magswerking van die verskuilde kurrikulum, terwyl die teoretiese lens meestersimbole vanuit
die apartheidsera voorhou waaraan die voorstellings in die handboekreeks gemeet kan word.
’n Tematiese ontleding van die visuele materiaal is as navorsingsmetode gebruik. Die
ontledingseenhede het uit alle visuele materiaal waarin mense van kleur voorkom, bestaan.
Dit sluit die tekstuele toeligting van die visuele materiaal in, soos byvoorbeeld onderskrifte of
vrae en opdragte wat met die visuele materiaal verband hou. Die ontleding probeer bepaal in
welke mate die visuele materiaal stereotiperingbevestigend of stereotiperingdeurbrekend is.
Die bevindinge dui aan dat Afrikaans as sogenaamde witmanstaal sodanig gedemitologiseer is dat geen tekens van taalstereotipering gevind kon word nie. Visuele tekste in die datastel,
sowel as die opdragte en inligting wat die visuele materiaal kontekstualiseer, kan sonder
uitsondering as teensimbole geklassifiseer word, wat die eise van die ontwikkeling van ’n
sigbare "nuwe Suid-Afrika" fasiliteer. Verder word daar weens die morele en politieke druk
deur handboekvoorskryfkomitees in Suid-Afrika doelbewuste (hoewel soms kosmetiese)
pogings aangewend om enige vorm van ongelykevoorstellingspraktyke uit Afrikaanse
handboeke te weer. Negatiewe houdings en persepsies, sowel as enige vorm van
ongelykevoorstellingspraktyke, is in hierdie oorgangsreeks reggestel.
On 14 February 2016, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced that a
task team should investigate stereotyping and inequality pertaining to representational
practices in school textbooks. The researched field of textbooks in Afrikaans was prominent
during the heyday of apartheid, when authors such as Esterhuyse (1986), Webb (1992) and
Du Plessis and Du Plessis (1987) showcased the ludicrousness of overt stereotypical
representations in (specifically) Afrikaans textbooks. Because of this research, publishers on
the eve of a new dispensation were alerted to the impetus of change and intervention in
representational practices in textbooks. The importance of identifying stereotyping and
inequality in school textbooks has again been brought to the foreground by the minister’s
recent call for investigating prejudice and inequality in South African textbooks. However,
since democracy dawned on South Africa, not many studies have been conducted that explore
the extent to which transitional publications have addressed these myths of the past. This
article reports on such a study that was carried out in 2009 on an OBE textbook series
published between 1997 and 2005. As a transitional publication between apartheid and
democratisation, this series intentionally addressed the misrepresentations, generalisations
and exclusions from the past. Cognisance of the findings of this research is imperative for
future research, as it presents a basis for comparison in similar studies.
The contextualisation and the literature study probe the responsibility of textbook writers in
the construction of socio-political paradigms within the deeper power balance of the hidden
curriculum. Issues in the literature on textbook representation, such as overt attempts to help
create a new cultural reality, new mutations and manifestations of ethnocentrism and prejudice as well as confronting sensitive issues to counter stereotypical representations, are
described in the literature study. Through the theoretical lens master symbols from the
apartheid era as criteria by which to measure the representations in the textbook series. These
master symbols were derived from an influential study when 53 South African textbooks
were analysed by Du Preez (1986) to establish 12 master symbols in textbooks of different
subjects. Two master symbols were chosen to inform the conceptual framework, namely (i)
white people are superior and black people are inferior; and (ii) white Afrikaners have a
special relationship with God. These two symbols were chosen because of their relation to
white dominance and the Christian national education system during the apartheid era.
A thematic analysis of the visual material was employed as the research method. The units of
analysis consisted of all visual examples where people of colour were represented in an
Afrikaans Home Language textbook series. Textual elucidation of the visual material, such as
captions and questions, or assignments relating to the visual material, was also considered.
The analysis tries to identify ways in which the visual material confirms or contradicts set
stereotypical beliefs from the past. Are there still power relations underpinning these visual similarities rather than differences inform representations? Do the apartheid fallacies about
Afrikaans still serve as a lens and filter to make meaning of a new dispensation? Is
ethnocentric material still evident? Can all learners identify with the visual representations in
the textbook series?
Based on the assumption that textbooks serve as a mirror of the social and political order, the
purpose of this qualitative study is to determine the extent to which an Afrikaans language
textbook series fosters cultural stereotyping. The findings are presented as indicators derived
from the thematic analysis of the visual representation in the textbooks. Traces of the myth
that Afrikaans is a white man’s language and signs of apartheid master symbols could not be
found in the textbooks. Standard Afrikaans was no longer the undisputed norm and
demythologisation of the history of Afrikaans freed the language of its previous apartheid
Visual texts, as well as the assignments and information contextualising the visual material,
can without a doubt be classified as counter-symbols that facilitate the claims of the
development of a tangible “new South Africa”. However, because of their highly politicised
past, the Afrikaans textbooks intentionally over-emphasise a utopian “new South Africa"
where race and difference are non-issues.
The three main themes that emerged from the data set were: (i) attempts to offer all learners
the chance to identify with the visual material in the textbooks; (ii) attempts to include rather than exclude all speakers of Afrikaans; and (iii) to present the vision of constantly working
towards nation building. Inculcation of positive, new and binding values were found
throughout the data set. Identifiable language variation representations were artistically
applied to enable all learners to participate with empathy towards a future inclusive South
African vision. The extensive use of role models from the whole race spectrum, nonexclusive
names, addresses, and places in South Africa, identifiable illustrations and
authentic examples of regional languages such as Griqua and Northern Cape Afrikaans all
added to the claim of counter-stereotypical representations in this transitional publication. No
exclusivity pertaining to Afrikaans was detected; instead, nation-building was facilitated by
the intentional construction of “we” as referring to all South Africans. Exercises and
assignments linked to the visual material tend to focus on similarities between people from
different origins, rather than differences. In this regard, emotion as a human characteristic
was powerfully portrayed to encompass differences between people from different origins. In
the data set diversity is also presented as a normal, everyday phenomenon, rather than a
problem that has to be dealt with.
Furthermore, the article asks the question whether moral and political pressure on textbook
prescribing committees in South Africa has perhaps led to intentional (although perhaps
cosmetic) attempts to disregard any form of unequal representational practices in Afrikaans
textbooks. It can be concluded that this transitional series untangled and dispersed attitudes
and perceptions that had been fossilised for many years and can serve as a barometer for
further research now being called for after a decade of democracy.