Theoretical underpinnings of citizenship education and curriculum

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The social and cultural nature of citizens of Botswana

Batswana, a word normally used to signify all citizens of Botswana, originally referred to the country’s major ethnic groups. These are the ethnic groups which came into the current day Botswana from South Africa in the early 1800 in fright of the Zulu-led wars. According to Wagner (2006), at independence in 1966, the government of Botswana declared that its people will be called “Batswana” irrespective of their ethnicity in the outlook of the national unity. This resolution was largely influenced by the history and practices of the then apartheid regime in South Africa which had torn the ethnic groups in that country apart and followed a policy of segregation which divided people on the basis of race (Wagner, 2006). This resolution had profound impact on the school curriculum. In this case, there is a room to argue that students as citizens did not have a choice and a voice in what they learnt but rather acted as sheepish followers of the curriculum that did not take into account their unique social and cultural identities.

The purpose of study

The study explored the extent to which the existing Social Studies curriculum at teacher training colleges in Botswana is offering citizenship education adequately to produce well informed teachers who would go out on a calculated mission to various schools and engage purposely in the production of democratic and functional citizenry. Secondly, the study proposed to obtain needed insight by examining the level of comprehension by lecturers and student-teachers of citizenship education ideals and whether they can articulate how they are enacted. This insight is envisaged to play a crucial role in influencing future colleges of education Social Studies curriculum review processes. Additionally, the findings generated may also challenge the department of teacher training and development to engage in in-service training for Social Studies teachers to equip them on citizenship education ideals. It is therefore hoped that the study might offer a better framework of key learning outcomes on citizenship education appropriate for current circumstances of Botswana context, challenges, and the changing future.

Motivation for the study

The study is motivated by the quest for democratization of the school system in Botswana. Botswana is dubbed a shining example of democracy, yet the active participation of her citizens in national agenda is far to be admired. I believe in the power of education to bring about a shift in the state of affairs. That is, education for democratic citizenry can be used as a measure to create awareness on democratic ideals. The best genesis for this enormous task is with teacher training because teachers play a pivotal role in transforming society through the diffusion of requisite knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes. Thus, this argument positions this study to explore the responsiveness of teacher training curriculum at primary teacher training college to democratic citizenship education.

The concept and development of citizenship education

Citizenship education is about civic knowledge, skills, and values. In a school context, according to Homana, Barber and Torney-Purta (2006:1), citizenship education is an opportunity provided by schools to engage learners in meaningful learning experiences such as debates, role play, classroom deliberations, mock trials and other active teaching strategies to assist their growth as politically and socially accountable individuals. The concept of citizenship education emerged in Greece during the Archaic Age (776-479 BC) and has been a persistent human social need. It later flourished in the following classical age during which time it was the subject of some distinguished thinking (Heater, 2004). In the period of the Greek and the Roman civilisations citizenship was adopted as a legal term and an expression of social standing (Hearter, 1999). During the two-and-half millinia from the emergence of the Greek city state the concept went through a vigorous process of invention and definition, re-invention and redefinition in five distinct contexts (Heater, 1999).

The social imperatives of citizenship education

The course of development of the concept citizenship education is a clear indication of its value to any nation. Since its inception different nations have adopted the concept, redefined and reinvented it to suit their peculiar conditions. Botswana adopted citizenship education and developed it over time to suit its cherished citizenry. This part of the chapter therefore expounds more on the social imperatives of citizenship education. Education for citizenship equips people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in public life (Gearon, 2010; Cecchim, 2003). Citizenship education therefore encourages people to take interest in topical and controversial issues and to engage in discussion and debate. This makes citizenship education one of the best mediums that any state could use in order to match children to values and traits that stabilise the society. Simply put, citizenship education is vital as it prepares learners to become informed and skilled in the process of a free society. That is, it prepares persons with democratic values who have an obligation to participate in social, economic and political spheres for the advancement of their country. This suggests that citizenship education can be viewed as a tool to prepare people to face future life challenges related to employment, family, social interactions and communal life.

Theories of citizenship education in the educational situation

This study is compatible with the constructivist perspective to education and teaching in particular. Constructivism is defined by Darforth and Smith (2005) as a broad set of interrelated theories that suggest that knowledge is human creation. Bentey (2007) adds that the ideas, attitudes and practices referred to as constructivism are about how humans learn by building knowledge cooperatively through social interaction and application of prior knowledge in a continual interpretation of on-going experiences. That is, as people explore events and environments, interact among themselves and confront situations and challenges, they end up constructing their own knowledge and understanding on various issues. Constructivism is thus a complex and an invested activity that has potential to bring together different stakeholders in the education fraternity. In the case of teaching and learning, the constructivist approach can play a pivotal role in bringing together teachers and students, parents, administrators and the community at large and accord them a platform to participate in various ways to reform and reshape education.


  • CHAPTER ONE Introduction and background information
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Background and socio-cultural context of study
      • 1.2.1 Background of study
      • 1.2.2 The social and cultural nature of citizens of Botswana
    • 1.3 Problem statement
    • 1.4 Aim and objectives of study
    • 1.5 The purpose of study
    • 1.6 Significance of the study
    • 1.7 Motivation for the study
    • 1.8 Limitations of study
    • 1.9 Delimitations
    • 1.12 Definition of key concepts
    • 1.13 Structure of chapters
  • CHAPTER TWO Theoretical underpinnings of citizenship education and curriculum
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 The concept and development of citizenship education
    • 2.3 The social imperatives of citizenship education
    • 2.4 Theories undergirding citizenship education and teaching
      • 2.4.1 Liberal theory
      • 2.4.2 Republican theory
      • 2.4.3 Communitarian theory
    • 2.5 Theories of citizenship education in the educational situation
    • 2.6 Viable ways to teach citizenship education in Botswana
    • 2.7 Approaches for teaching citizenship education
      • 2.7.1 Segregated approach
      • 2.7.2 Cross-curricular approach
      • 2.7.3 Extra-curricular approach
      • 2.7.4 Social Studies approach
    • 2.8 Implications of the above approaches for teacher education
    • 2.9 Conclusion
  • CHAPTER THREE Citizenship education in Botswana
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 The cultural nature and dynamism of Botswana society
    • 3.3 The development of citizenship education
    • 3.4 Social Studies curriculum as means to teach citizenship education
    • 3.5 State of the primary school teacher training curriculum for citizenship education
    • 3.6 Conclusion
  • CHAPTER FOUR Research design and methods
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Methodological orientations
    • 4.3 The notion of a paradigm
    • 4.4 Nature of the interpretive paradigm
    • 4.5 Research method-The Case Study
    • 4.6 Population of the study
    • 4.7 Sampling and sampling procedures
    • 4.8 Data collection techniques
      • 4.8.1 Individual interviews
      • 4.8.2 Focus group interview
      • 4.8.3 Document analysis
      • 4.8.4 Qualitative-questionnaire
    • 4.9 Data recording
    • 4.10 Ethical protocol for data collection
    • 4.11 Validity and reliability
      • 4.11.1 Validity
      • 4.11.2 Reliability
    • 4.12 Data analysis
    • 4.13 Conclusion
  • CHAPTER FIVE Presentation of findings
  • CHAPTER SIX Discussion of findings
  • CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations


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