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South African Journal of Education

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Enhancing intercultural understanding using e-learning strategies

C Meier

Abstract




Intercultural understanding is a prerequisite for peaceful local and global citizenship,
especially in South African society where prejudice and negative
stereotypes were previously the order of the day because of official separatism.
It is therefore crucial to teach intercultural understanding in South Africa. I
report with commentary on a tripartite initiative, between SchoolNet South
Africa, the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and Unisa's School of Education,
to implement an Internet-supported education programme entitled ‘Intercultural
understanding — e-learning application in education'. The project comprised an
encounter in the form of electronic correspondence between learners from five
previously disadvantaged South African schools and learners from seven
schools in Finland. The objectives of the project included critical scrutiny by
learners of the cultures of South Africa and Finland with a view to finding ways
of fostering intercultural understanding. Learners in South African schools
exchanged messages with their Finnish counterparts online and then published
articles on their experiences in an eJournal. Analysis and interpretation of the
content of these articles showed that the project obscured rather than improved
intercultural understanding.

Keywords: cultural diversity; culture; eJournal; e-learning; intercultural; learners; South Africa

South African Journal of Education Vol. 27 (4) 2007: pp. 655-672



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