SA Journal of Education, Vol 29, No 4 (2009)

The representation of women in a sample of post-1994 South African school History textbooks

Sonja Schoeman

Abstract


History curriculum revisions post 1994 were followed by a range of new History textbooks intended to meet the needs of teachers seeking to implement the revised curriculum. I sought to establish whether or not a sample of these textbooks had built upon the gender equality initiatives introduced after 1994. A qualitative intrinsic case study was conducted to determine the extent of the representation
of women in three South African school History textbooks. The results demonstrated that, despite the introduction of gender equality initiatives, in the sample selected the role of men in history continued to receive emphasis. In South African history men have indeed been more prominent than women, and have been viewed as the decision-makers, yet there is room in standard South African History textbooks for the inclusion of the ordinary daily events in which women participated or through which they exercised an influence on decisionmaking by men. Shepherd’s media literacy curriculum model, incorporating the Department of Education’s approaches to critical media education, is proposed
as a tool to empower in-service History teachers to teach learners to deconstruct patriarchal or hegemonic power relations in school History textbooks.

Keywords: gender; History; media literacy; media literacy curriculum mode, textbooks; women

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