South African Journal of Education

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Embedding values in the South African curriculum: by design or default?

Mncedisi Christian Maphalala, Nhlanhla Mpofu


This article explores the way in which values education is incorporated in the Life Orientation (LO) curriculum of the Senior Phase (Grades 7–9)i in South Africa. Researchers agree that in the light of the current need to regenerate morals and re-norm the nation, values are critical. From the moment they are born, children learn by observing adults; they mimic what they see, and repeat the words they utter. Parents and teachers have the greatest influence on a child’s upbringing and therefore have a responsibility to teach them about the core values that help them become well-rounded citizens. Theoretically, the study on which this article is based was located in the literature on approaches to implementing values education. The study employed a qualitative perspective, with a descriptive case study design. Participants include purposively selected school principals, school governing body (SGB) members, and LO teachers. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The analysis revealed that the values in the school LO curriculum were incorporated eclectically through explicit, implicit and critical approaches. On the basis of these findings, it is recommended that the school community sustain an eclectic approach to values education that covers learners’ holistic experiences.

Keywords: embedding values; Life Orientation; Senior Phase; values education

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