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Identity reconstruction of black African learners in a Muslim primary school.

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Date

2022

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Abstract

The overarching objective of this study is to explore and understand how Black African Learners (BAL) reconstruct their identity and how this influences their lives. Learner identity ‘reconstruction’ is still under-researched, especially in Muslim schools. This is supported in literature, where it is highlighted that regarding learner identity studies, the becoming and changing process is either neglected or not ascribed much significance (Lundgren & Scheckle, 2019, Kerr, Dean & Crowe, 2019). The rationale for conducting this study is mainly rooted in my personal experiences and observations as a teaching practice assessor, an employee in one of the higher education institutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. The framework that underpinned this study was Social Identity Theory (SIT) by Henri Tajfel (1974). This theory assisted me in exposing what learners think and how they interpret their educational experiences, which include what they see and how they feel about multiple realities in their school, across, within, and between cross-cultural and post-disciplinary boundaries, as proposed by Wilber (2005) and Marquis (2007). An interpretivist paradigm and qualitative case study was adopted. One Muslim Primary School (MPS) and five learner participants were purposely selected. Data was generated utilising written narratives, semi-structured one-on-one interviews, and focus groups discussions where these were transcribed and thematically analysed. The findings of the study revealed that identity reconstruction of BAL in MPS represent a lever that can perpetuate or decrease inequality; depending on how it is philosophically interpreted. Immigration was viewed as one of the precursors for identity reconstruction sparked by immigration of BAL families from other parts of the continent into South Africa. Furthermore, BAL encounter a wide range of experiences that incorporate more painful, positive, and even contradictory, perceptions about self. The study concludes that identity reconstruction in an MPS ought not to be framed by foreign conceptions, but should rather be anchored in local, indigenous knowledge systems and practices. Instead, BAL should build up their Black African dignity and reclaim African-Muslimcentric identity; something to look forward to as democracy matures in South Africa, as BAL individually and uniquely reconstruct their identity.

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood.

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