Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Sustaining a Democratic Culture through Collaborative Engagements for Citizens with Disabilities – Part 2

Written By

Duma Mhlongo and Gregory Alexander

Submitted: January 8th, 2021 Reviewed: February 23rd, 2021 Published: April 2nd, 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.96782

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The United Nations (UN) has since the year 2015 challenged countries to develop structures of collaboration between governments, businesses, and citizens to enhance the monitoring and evaluation of their social justice challenges, advocacy initiatives and the progress thereof. To achieve the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals, this chapter proposes for educational and workplace institutions to collaborate as sub-systems. Historically, citizens with disabilities have been hit the hardest regarding decent work opportunities and inaccessible basic education classroom amenities. The existence of a democratic culture in an ideal classroom setting should be where all learners are mentored to display the democratic principles of unity, uniformity, diversity and homogeneity. This chapter aims to contribute towards the imaging of teachers who succeed in creating and sustaining a democratic classroom environment, guided by the ethos of inclusive education, wherein both classrooms and workplaces of the year 2030 and beyond, iconise a democratic aura and praxis by adopting an institutional collaborative culture. As an ideal, all learners and employees will entrench the ethos of democratic co-existence by embracing diverse contexts of disability, when empathising with citizens with a disability. In this way a genuine democratic culture could possibly become spontaneously sustainable.


  • sustainability
  • engagements
  • disability
  • workplace

1. Introduction

Workplace accommodation for job seekers and employees with a disability, does not necessarily aim to create near perfect workplace resources adjustments, but rather a reasonable and affordable infrastructural and ideological engagement which embrace diversity. Aptly, to democratise the workplace, in a way that citizens with disabilities feel they are genuinely accommodated. Discussions throughout Part 2 place an emphasis on sustaining a democratised, thus decent, and accommodative workplace adjustments with the sustainability of a democratic workplace culture and the eradication of unfair discrimination. Part 2 further concurs with South Africa’s Employment Equity Act’s (EEA’s) Section 6 which assess the long-term impact of workplace adjustments to reasonably accommodate historically vulnerable population groups [1]. This aspect can best become an obtainable objective if constant engagements between stakeholders are sustained through short- and medium-term plans and actions. Across all the discussion in this chapter, the focus population group will be contextualised as job seekers and employees with a disability, whose decent treatment will determine a country’s progress, as observed within the realm of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Agenda [2, 3, 4].


2. Workplace contexts of disability and collaborative engagements

The social ecological relationship between an employee with a disability and the employer, traverses the diverse contextual factors, crucial for a democratised inclusive education aura in contemporary South Africa, as illustrated by Figure 1, below.

Figure 1.

South Africa’s disability context as a socio-educational subsystem.

Mhlongo and Alexander adapted Figure 1 from the original document of the World Health Organisation, which is called the Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health document [5]. Its essence in Part 2 is to put diagrammatic emphasis on South Africa’s Labour Legislation as a crucial subsystem as narrated in Part 1. The adaption focuses on the EEA 55 of 1998 (Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998), as an umbrella policy covering the LRA 44 of 1995 (Labour Relations Act 44 of 1995) SDA 97 of 1998 (Skills Development Act 97 of 1998) and the BBBEE 53 of 2003 (Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment 53 of 2003).

In consideration of the diagram above, the ILO’s School to Work Transition programmes [6, 7, 8] strongly agree with the WHO’s Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health document [5], in demonstrating the social ecological subsystem to subsystem interaction according to the relationship between the environmental and personal factors impacting on the well-being of a person with a disability. With insights from international literature, a culture of democracy can be cemented from within the classroom through to the post-school contexts of job search and successful job entry via both productive and decent employment or workplace contexts. School curricula contents which are transparent enough to cover social inclusion aspects such as (a) getting to work through disability-friendly transportation infrastructure and (b) working in a reasonably accommodative place, are ideal examples of a democratic classroom culture. Who else except the teacher to determine the shape and design of any day, a week or a term’s lesson plan format?

A cascade from the international (ILO and WHO) to the country-level is necessary. It is a step-down narrative indicating the laws that South Africa has availed in its quest to fulfil the global mandate to address long-standing human rights issues, such as perceptions and visible trends affecting the disability social subsystem. Hopefully, vibrant collaborative engagements within classrooms through the postmodernist teacher, could possibly assist, accelerate and sustain the re-shaping of South Africa’s inclusive education terrain. The notion that democracy can never be separated from politics as it has strong social development foundations. Certainly, classrooms remain politicised not by accident, but by virtue of children, openly or subtly carrying the burden of society into classrooms [9, 10]. Teachers who have a democratic mindset would strive to entwine human rights or legislative literature contributions from other countries during their normal classroom lessons, thus fulfilling their citizenship moral obligation to address future discriminations by default, intention or through ignorance in the workplace as future adults.

While numerous RSA labour laws are availed only four (as listed above) are highlighted by this chapter as forming both the conceptual and operational crystallisation of the socio-educational contexts to which teachers should expose future citizens. Paulo Freire’s notion of critical value of participatory community engagements should be naturalised. Authentic interactions by social scientists or politicians through spending more time in natural surroundings of societies could intensify the success of legislative frameworks intent to empower them [11, 12, 13]. The aim of these laws is to create an equitable balance between the socio-educational factors, reflective of challenges facing contemporary South Africa. While delivering the prescribed curriculum in South African schools, it would indeed be highly enriching for a teacher to democratise the classroom context, thus equally navigating through the inclusive education terrain. School-based scenarios focusing on two critical labour laws relevant to this disability empowerment and equality are discussed extensively below.

2.1 Legislative guidance to enhance workplace disability contexts

A culture of democracy becomes implanted and realised when issues revolving around empowerment and equality, are casually discussed in the classroom or become enmeshed in the lesson by inviting other social subsystems through an intensive review of relevant discourses. Naturally, a teacher with a democratised mindset can expose learners to or request them to search the internet in obtaining laws meant to promote decent workplace integration and reduce polarising trends, such as South Africa’s Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act(BBBEEA), no.53 of 2003 and the Employment Equity Act(EEA), no. 55 of 1998 [1, 14].

Two scenarios are discussed to relay the crux of these two labour law pieces.

Scenario 1: Creating a culture for economic empowerment through democratic classroom practice: A teacher with a democracy education mindset should strive to recognise discourses relating to South Africa’s economic empowerment issues regarding disability populations’ decent participation on the economy.

For example, the BBBEEA, was designed to address economic inequalities of the past by broadening the country’s economic base thus accelerate growth, job creation and poverty eradication. This policy had to be broadened to economically include the historically disadvantaged citizens, namely black people, people with disabilities and women. White women and the Chinese population now qualify as designated population groups covered fully by the BBBEEA Act [14, 15].

As a follow-up example, certain scholars have harvested data which validate that numerous job creation initiatives currently exists in South Africa; through empowerment deals and public or tender contracts [16]. They have pointed to how these opportunities are found in the resources sector (mining, oil, gas and paper), the financial sector (real estate, life insurance and banks) and the industrial sector (general retailing, software and computer services and construction). In terms of the range of employment opportunities to democratise workplaces by creating and sustaining accessibility amenities available in South Africa, teachers have a duty to both verbalise and simulate classroom contexts showing how the same data relate to the plight for a visible democratised empowerment of capable citizens with disabilities. Crucial to research upon, is the presence and practice related to Agenda 2030 across all school subjects - this is so that today’s learners, as future employees and employers should find it easy to collaboratively engage, create and spontaneously sustain democratised workplaces. In this way, the forthcoming 2030 milestone assessment will harvest data, reflective of socially just and reasonably accommodative workplaces in South Africa [2].

The most fitting pedagogic approach would be to pose explorative questions to students via a design of an inclusive lesson plan. Two critical questions could be shaped to inquire about the relevance of the measurable level or visibility of an enabling participation criterion in the job market. The first one could be: Does the job market in contemporary South Africa allow for normalised access for the educated job seeker from a population with a disability, especially based on racial background? The second question is based on the awareness level of the existent workplace accessibility amenities to create and sustain decent employment avenues and job creation opportunities by the disability population group, offered by the BBBE Act. Irrespective of the variety or depth of answers provided by students, the crux of these questions would expose these learners to the historically sensitive supremacist dual stereotype of race and disability. The apparent or hidden stigma attached to being excluded on the basis of skin colour and physiological (dis-)ability certainly delivers a gruelling internal or psychological blow to an “able bodied” student requested to simulate a role of a wheelchair bound job seeker, of any racial population. Secondly, having taxi fare does not equate to an accommodative transport mode in all cities or towns for wheelchair bound citizens, embarking on job search trips. A variety of classroom-based assessment activities could be availed if teachers formalise forum discussions as a pilot stage of formulating inclusive lessons.

2.2 Evaluating employment equity legislation towards the 2030 milestone

In the contemporary South African context, there exist numerous legislation meant to promote equal opportunity of participation in the economy, especially through productive yet decent workplace and economic empowerment. Furthermore, fundamental role of South Africa’s Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998, amended 2008 (EEA) has been entrenched as part of the basic education curriculum through the subject Business Studies. The impact of Agenda 2030 is thus ideologically present in South Africa’s classrooms when a democratic culture becomes idealised when decent future workplaces are well-resourced to accommodate contexts of disability by having accessible amenities. Institution to institution engagements best display a harmonious atmosphere of collaboration when the current teacher engages the current employer/workplaces, thus constructively contributing towards the national benchmark of measuring and entrenching reasonable accommodation.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry’s Codes of Good Practice within the Broad-Based Black Empowerment Act 53 (2003), all enterprises in South Africa should be BBBEE compliant [14]. When compared to Part 1, the authors present Part 2 to demonstrate how compliance should refer to meeting visible specific criteria which serve as a compulsory certification for the enterprise to enter into business with any state-owned-entity. Simply, employment equity policies in the workplace should be visible in job adverts inviting capable citizens to apply for work.

Scenario 2: Promoting a democratic culture of employment equity through inclusive lesson planning:

The government, as a social subsystem mandated to plan, popularise and monitor legislations should always guard against becoming an agent which unintentionally creates socio-economic contexts which delimits or polarises opportunities for certain population groups. Teachers have a critical role to play when they (re) image classroom lessons to idealise decent, disability-accessible workplaces of the future.

Simulations are an inherent aspect of assessment activities in South Africa’s basic education subject, namely, Business Studies [15]. Sustaining such type of classrooms, pro-decent workplaces, role play scenarios is a valuable variable to monitor and evaluate a country’s collaborative engagements efforts between institutions, such as schools, labour unions, disability rights advocacy groups and workplaces/employers. The EEA should become a vital vehicle to promote equality through equity, to cement a culture of democracy in the classroom, specifically to accommodate the disability population as a social subsystem. A user-friendly guideline booklet provided by Tinarelli could be used by democracy-minded inclusive education teachers to orientate themselves with the landscape of reasonable accommodation for the people with disabilities [17]. Ensuring employment equity in the USA while neglecting to invite the participation of private social diversity programs makes not much of a difference to affirmative action progress, especially if citizens do not perform actions which promote these policies [18]. Modern teachers should realise that they are influential citizens by virtue of having a daily audience of future citizens.

By inviting the Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998 EEA, the democratised teacher could possibly contribute towards a vibrant classroom lesson and in the process, re-image highly enlightened future adults in the area of social responsibility, as employers and colleagues. Once more, through simulations in the classroom, teachers with a democratised mindset would be assisting the government to shape future citizens who are not just educated but are also empathetic towards the needs of historically marginalised populations. By merely thinking about your impact in the future, makes you a postmodernist. For instance, a teacher with a democratised mindset stimulates classroom settings designed to ascertain the rate of the employment equity trends, whilst embracing contemporary African values. African societies refer to spontaneous collaboration among neighbours as Ubuntu. The Prevalence of Ubuntu is most observed, firstly, and occasionally - the sharing of parables or ditshomo in Sesotho language which enriches the relationships between the young and the old, with the purpose to disperse wisdom [19]. Secondly, and as events occur, neighbours spontaneously pool together their material resources as a gesture of charity to benefit those befallen by both minor and huge disasters such a funeral. An African stance of ubuntu, becomes operationalised or visible when both the private and public sector employers ignite an aura of neighbourly by narratively inviting, critiquing and magnifying inter- or multi-national constructive events and good practices to reasonably accommodate the historically vulnerable, yet economically active population cohorts. Earlier, Figure 1 highlighted both the external and internal socio-educational polarities traversed by qualified job seeker citizens with disabilities. Hopefully, a re-direction of the curriculum to fully embrace inclusive education when workplace employment equity simulations in modern classrooms could prevail, thus contributing towards an ideal pathway towards the Agenda 2030 milestone [2].

2.3 Collaborations between the education and labour subsystems

To gain transformative traction towards achieving the Agenda 2030 milestone, both educational institutions, entrepreneurs, labour rights unions, disability rights advocacy groups and business corporations should establish and sustain collaborative engagements as soon as possible. Teachers are identified as the most relevant catalysts to entrench a democratised culture of sustained collaborations which will persist beyond the classroom when the once young learners are now leaders of industry in the next decade - towards the year 2030. Both lectures and researchers (as knowledge producers and influencers of societal change) have a valuable role to play with regards to how they collaboratively engage the teachers in-training from year one to the year of graduation. Hence, a default inclusion of concepts such as economic empowerment, democracy, social justice, equality, affirmative action, employment equity and others in a lesson goes a long way to indicate a re-curriculation mindset and a democratised classroom practice. The year 2000, was the official launch of Outcome Based Education (OBE) in South Africa and it coincides with the year when Education White Paper 6 was distributed [20]. Through OBE training initiatives via the Department of Education, a teacher was only issued the official learning programme guidelines, national learning outcomes and lesson objectives per subject. The teacher in turn would design an entire annual lesson programme according to own his/her teaching approaches and skills. Aptly, this was a seed of a democratised schooling system, where the same subject across two schools, would differ on the basis of responding to the diverse and thus special circumstances for each learner as well as for specific community needs. The paper intensive OBE curriculum as it was labelled by the South African teacher fraternity, was perceived by teachers as an unnecessary administrative burden. OBE created democratic scenarios within classrooms, and the most creative teacher identities one has ever encounter since apartheid years. The OBE curriculum was however found to be both irrelevant and inadequate for the South African context and replaced by the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) in 2004. Therefore, any discussions of ways to accommodate learners with disabilities in mainstream South African schools are also essential to the democratisation of education virtue to make special needs analysis not just an inclusive education policy ideal but a visible act to embrace diversity in the present.

A clear philosophical distinction should be drawn between the two socio-educational context terminologies used hereunder. The first context, system would denote the official enterprise to plan and implement the official curriculum; which is a centralised duty of the government subsystem represented by the Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education. Whereas, a mindset stands for how a teacher relates to her surroundings, and shapes her approach to pedagogic content of her subject to reflect current, probable, delayed or future realities impacting on her classroom as translocated from the wider community. Accordingly, collaborative engagements should depart from the conservative tradition of teachers awaiting a cue from a specific official document to promote and implement curriculum; wherein officials will also visit the school to monitor delivery of the proposed curriculum. Unfortunately, inclusive education curriculum in South Africa has refused to take off in an official sense within or via each school subject as visiting government and Department of Education officials tend to focus curriculum pace challenges within specific subjects, not on the learning acquisition challenges vis a vis learner with special needs database and recommended or innovated remedial avenues to mitigate these inclusive education delivery events. Hence, a postmodernist teacher has a professional duty to disrupt the dominant and traditional view, by reflecting on mitigating circumstances in order to create and sustain inclusive classroom-based learning contexts. Therefore, disability in the special needs education sector require highly modified classroom settings. Segregated educational offerings according to racial classification has made it easy for South Africans to easily accept that: “learners with disabilities are different”. When the ideals of acceptance are entrenched within teachers’ lesson plans it would become a spontaneous opportunity for an authentic interaction with individuals with disabilities to occur, thus making transformation very possible. Unfortunately, the Education White Paper 6 has promised to evaluate the impact of its two decades of promise, to determine if indeed praxis towards a democratic culture iconic of inclusive and transformative teachers, classrooms and schools became an achievable reality by the year 2021. Certainly, the possibility of achieving this ideal, lies with the discerning social scientist-lecturer too, whose community engagements plans, and praxis are designed to reflect a genuine Ubuntu approach to inclusive education for it to become democratised.

Inclusive education delivery should be alive in every classroom, through every subject. The teacher’s innovations of lessons to integrate democratic education is an immeasurable contribution towards a socially just future. Innovative classroom lesson alternatives remain available when a culture of discussions on past and current affairs is sustained between teachers across different subjects. Also, reflecting on the future path towards economic participation and empowerment of educated youth with a disability should be encouraged, by visibly democratising mainstream school settings. The constant conscientising of prevalent stereotypes in both schools and communities should become an inherent intellectual trait of a teacher, in a contemporary inclusive education context. Across all subjects, ideal neo-inclusive education teachers would expose learners to the basic tenets of a democratic world of work, such as the transparency of policies, equal opportunities for promotion, respect and elevation of population diversity as a demography within the traditional workplace’s three levels of management.

Contextualising the value and application of these laws in the post-school workplace or job search environment, proposes that a physical sciences teacher, just like the history teacher should prepare future citizens to have a lucid conscience about how a democratised engagements based on an ethos of empowerment and equality should look like. As professionalised citizens, both teachers, at work and in training should be intellectually and morally bound and stimulated to contribute effort and skill in creating a visible and vibrant democratised culture of promoting disability self-empowerment through critical dialogue forums- these efforts are to reduce both obvious and subtle stereotypes and inhumane practices. Visionary teachers are sensitive to societal issues which accentuates both the educational rights and economic participation efforts of historically marginalised populations. Fundamentally, an apparent lack of a culture of democratic engagements on issues pertaining to disability rights has to necessitate a revivalist voice or a reshape mode of the South Africa’s inclusive education context. Teachers who are visionary inclined tend to undertake a neo-inclusive education lens on discourses pertinent to a democratic political setting. They intend to entrench both empathic and authentic democratic role-playing traits as the education and training service providers, specifically in-service and pre-service teachers. Gradually, these teachers become a valuable human resource vehicle and asset in the creation and sustenance of meaningful inclusive education curriculum delivery and visible diversity promotion in South Africa.

Certainly, the socio-educational challenges confronting teachers often hamper their effort to deliver good academic results and address perennial failure rates. A psycho-educational element is apparent here via students who suffer mental depression due to the burden of unknowingly carrying these social issues with them to the classroom, from a few months to sometimes years. When we openly ignore or passively chastise these societal issues, we promote an aristocratic societal approach. The blatant or innocent stereotypes we hold to ourselves harvest a polarised society where a chasm of we and them becomes traditionalised. In lay terms, we are subconsciously saying we are better off than others or privileged enough to consider their problem as also ours. Engage with the insert box below:

(Please visit Scenario 1 and Scenario 2).

How would you advise a democracy-minded teacher to respond to diverse socio-educational situations?

Consult A Case in Context X provided below, iconic of serious challenges standing in the path of creating and sustaining a culture of democratising the inclusive education landscape in South Africa.

HINT 1: Lesson planning or design cannot remain rigid but has to be flexible to accommodate specific or generic issues and contextual challenges.

HINT 2: Autocratic and oppressive stereotypes regarding school-based or workplace-based contexts of disability can also emerge from figures of leaderships such as subject heads and principals – posing as a challenge to the ideals, plans and actions to democratise the school’s culture.

A Case in Context X - Disability-specific socio-educational issues impeding on the transformative path towards Agenda 2030 milestone.

“At least, I am not the father of that crippled child. I would have found him a special needs school or home-based education service instead of facing the humiliation of being wheelchair-driven to a school for normal children”.

This case study is targeted at the student/teacher-in training and as well as in-service teachers (school visiting officials and school-based teachers) to work as collaborators within the educational services sub-system. Afterwards, learners in the classrooms will have a lesson planned according to the same teamwork setting.

As a team, via cellular phone-initiated social networking or face-to-face focus group settings - they are to de-contextualise the scenario above, from entrenching discriminatory trends towards a country or institution’s journey on its Agenda 2030 milestone:

  1. How will we respond if the owner of the statement above is either a school principal in a mainstream school or is a manager of a large corporation?

  2. How best to debate and repel the potential future workplace stereotypes and stigma which will be attached to any job seeker or employee having a disability?

By virtue of being specifically trained and educationally qualified in a child-oriented career, teachers become both the moral and official custodians of clients they interact with in the classrooms. It is shocking indeed, to realise that the de-humanising phrases above; although simulated, could reflect opinions of teachers who were not given a developmental platform (training) to orientate themselves with issues translocatable between schools and communities. Hence, inclusive education knowledge production and dissemination with focus on disability, should become equilibrated for the benefit of both the intransigent or innocently ignorant teachers and citizens. From contexts above, readers will certainly discern between dialectics which represent either a hostile or oppressive engagement versus liberating or collaborative engagements. To counteract both the seemingly and openly oppressive nuances and practices, the authors of this chapter strongly believe that since the social sciences discipline of postmodernism is all about embracing diversity of progressive and transformative and liberating ideologies and praxis – what was once de-humanised or treated inhumanely throughout history can be re-humanised through the philosophy and praxis of Ubuntu. The discussion below will demonstrate this aspect.


3. Ubuntu as a fundamental basis for collaborative engagements

Various scholars use the term ‘ubuntu’ to donate a human quality, African humanism, a philosophy, an ethic, or a worldview that encapsulates a belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all of humanity. Ubuntu or Africanisation of institutions’ governance systems can bring transformative outcomes to benefit citizens within the historically marginalised population groups. Aptly, the noun ‘ubuntu’, belongs to a group of Nguni dialects. It loosely means “humanity”, yet it richly signifies and promotes a visible sense of political collaboration between members of a community [19, 21, 22, 23]. When a policy is debated and voted upon, it gains popularity thus operationality through a majority vote, the political collective becomes entrusted with the political custodianship of societal progress. In Sotho dialects ubuntu it is called ‘Botho’. The root word is ‘umuntu’ or ‘motho’, meaning human. Across both dialects, a popular adage is Umuntu ngu Muntu nga Bantu/Motho ke motho ka batho –these words mean: A human becomes a being through other human beings. It is often translated as “I am because we are”, or “humanity towards others” or translated as ‘a person is a person through other persons. When one considers the fundamental basis for establishing a democratic culture in either an institution or country, all members deemed matured are given the eligibility to participate in a voting electoral system as to maturely compete in choosing another human being to become a leader. In contrast, in both autocratic and aristocratic institutions or states, the position of leadership is not determined by the fundamental rule of proportional representation, but through a coercive or lineage system.

Ubuntu is a comprehensive ancient African world perspective based on the values of humanness, caring, sharing, respect, compassion and associated values [24]. Therefore, in optimally supporting people with disabilities, democratic educational settings should equip students with values such as honesty, integrity, tolerance, diligence, responsibility, compassion, altruism, justice and respect, which are deemed necessary for a post-apartheid South African dispensation [25, 26]. For a democratised socio-educational framework of empowerment and equality to exist, the Decent Work Agenda (DWA) programme for youth has to be visibly engaged by the postmodernity minded teacher in an inclusive education setting [6, 7, 8]. Recently, South Africa’s government subsystem hosted ILO country-members at the city of Durban to discuss and monitor recent DWA trends for youth. When democratising the inclusive education landscape, the context of disability would assume a socio-educational shape. As both a medical and social condition, it should be thus understood that accessibility and barrier confines are not purely intrinsic (deformity-related) or within the person with a disability. Accordingly, these barriers are extrinsic, and part of environmental constructs too, as represented by the school and work ecological settings which individuals with disabilities have to traverse in the quest for economic survival via decent employment. These environmental factors influence the participation of this person in life activities by being fully, partially accommodative or totally not being reasonably accommodated. Certain scholars agree that the African ethos of Ubuntu, or humane-ness, richly recognises empathy as a communal trait [27, 28]. In an ideal community functioning within the tenets of Ubuntu, where sharing resources and emotional conditions is envisaged; marginalisation and exploitation of citizens with a disability would become visibly and tackled dialectically emancipatory fashion to promote advocacy initiatives geared towards achievement of most if not all of Agenda 2030’s targets.

3.1 Ubuntu-ism: From a philosophy to sustainable praxis

In this subsection of the chapter, we will attempt to assert the notion that any reference to Ubuntu remains purely and mainly ideological, especially if there is no follow-up planned actions to justify why transformation is essential. Maodzwa-Taruvinga has written extensively on a decade in which Jansen’s ideology of how a progressive thus inclusive curriculum should look like for a genuinely democratised schooling system, to be created across all schools, in all of the nine provinces of South Africa [29]. Recently, Jansen has played a highly influential social justice role in aiding to democratise the inclusionary classroom practices and school leadership by promoting collaborative engagements between the corporate sector, teachers and school leaders [30]. In consistently successful attempts to re-shape contemporary South African schools, Jansen’s praxis of Ubuntu - as legislatively entrenched in the Constitution of South Africa’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As a Vice Chancellor at the University of the Free State (UFS) between 2012 and 2017, he has motivated the need for collaborative engagements to large corporations which have been operating in South Africa for more than 100 years each, in the mining and banking sectors. By the end of the year 2016, UFS reported that it has directly spent R50 million South African Rands or $3,3 million US dollars, as the year 2021 exchange rates. The funds are spent across South Africa’s academically struggling; by sending veteran curriculum experts as mentors who have been excelling consistently in their roles as either teachers or principals in the schools they once worked at (UFS-CSR, 2020). From 2012, to date UFS mentors travel to schools on a daily basis and become classroom or principal’s-office-embedded for a 3-year project term [31].


Visit YouTube to search for video-based stories relating to CSR collaborative engagements between institutions in your country, town, state, province, or district. Ask yourself: WHY did this CSR project start? In WHICH year? How does it report about its impact and most importantly, HOW does it sustain its operations?

Applying the praxis of Ubuntu in collaborative engagement approach as above reflects a pro-Agenda 2030 contribution between institutions at country level namely, a university, schools, the DBE and businesses. To symbolise sustainability of valuable and transformative collaborative engagements, such Ubuntu engagments require intensive, critical yet progress driven approach. Certainly, a visible element of inclusive education through the sharing of intellectual resources trickled down between both rural and urban school settings. A moment of re-awakening through the case presented as context Y below, was experienced in the year 2020, by one of the authors of this chapter.

A Case in Context Y: Ubuntu as a cornerstone of a genuine democratic culture in schools.

Imagine a White middle-aged man capable to demonstrate how a multi-cultural society is best represented by striving to be multi-lingual at a school for learners with profound disabilities. Sharing the same shopping mall bench waiting for our spouses (myself being Zulu, proficient in Sotho), I (Duma Mhlongo) greeted the stranger sitting next to me – a White gentleman in the mix of both English and Afrikaans languages whom responded in kind. We had a warm conversation in both these neo-European languages until his phone rang and he went straight fluent Xhosa on the phone, shifting to Sotho. I immediately felt linguistically naked, both amazed and shocked. I had to interject: “Greetings Sir. With due utmost respect. How did you BEGIN to juggle two native African languages with so much ease and amusement?” He responded by saying that working with severely disabled children who struggle with the simplicities of life was an added inhumanity to burden them with a language foreign to their households? So, as a gesture of Ubuntu, he had to learn their home languages and relegate his own. Simply, going an extra moral mile to accommodate others is a genuine epitome of Ubuntu as a democratic culture.

It would be a prudent gesture for the readers to compare and to critically consolidate contexts X and Y presented in herein. Hostile engagements, which are difficult to evolve into actionable transformative impacts, seldom display a democratic principle of sustainability as the strongly opposing parties are bent on permanently disrupting one another’s vision and structures. In contrast, the CSR case study in this chapter’s Reflection Box 1 indicated that it is for institutions to hold and sustain collaborative engagements through a shared vision and co-owned actions. These contexts were developed as a means to stimulate collaborative engagements to democratise pedagogic strategies or lesson plans and actions which are accommodative of diversity. To simulate workplace reasonable accommodation scenarios to tackle oppressive contexts of disability, a teacher has to think and behave beyond the demands of the current classroom context in any given day, week or term. Nevertheless, a teacher with ideals of postmodernity should never run out of solutions to create a vibrant democratic atmosphere. An ideal teacher should be technology savvy where she will access relevant discourses and documents to aid in shaping lessons which resemble visible inclusive education pedagogy. She does not have to leave the school premises, but can make virtual contact with the government as an ecological social subsystem, by downloading media and learning support material from the highly data rich Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) [32, 33, 34]. Therein, essential official papers such as South Africa’s Department of Labour’s Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of People with Disabilities [26] and Office of the Deputy President’s White Paper on Integrated National Disability Strategy [35] could be studied thoroughly or in a relaxed, and innovated or modified approach to fit a discussion lesson in any school subject. To illustrate, forum discussions at teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to- student levels as to co-design and reshape lesson plans. Teachers as school-based leaders, can create classroom contexts which seek to balance the technical and the dialectical aspects of enhancing and sustaining democratic or accommodating future workplace setting for citizens from diverse disability backgrounds. You are requested to reflect on Part 1’s Figure 1 to build both dialectical and technical database of relevant concepts to engage collaboratively with pertinent Agenda 2030 issues.

Succinctly, the African continent has become a leading hub of information, commutation and technology (ICT), where teachers can reach out for help from anywhere, as offered freely by agencies such as the GCIS. Internationally, numerous open-network service providers such as The Bulletin, quarterly publication from Japan (, 2005:1) could contribute neo-inclusive education material for free, specific to disability issues. Undoubtedly, the communal trait of Ubuntu via free access to social justice for disability discourses assists in entrenching a vibrant aura of democratised engagements in classroom settings at various educational settings. The educational services provision subsystem has been represented by leaders and academics from some of South Africa’s higher education institutions, who promulgate the Africanisation of universities governance and curriculation. Earlier, Part 2 briefly discussed the how Nkoane, Steyn, Horsthenke, Le Grange, Pityana and Ntuli via their presented papers, dialectically contributed to an ideal of Africanised notion of socio-educational equity at universities [23]. Strong traits of Ubuntu were reflected in all these papers, thus promoting hope that a culture of democratised pedagogy would rub off on modern teachers-in-training at these universities. Putting A Case in Context X into consideration, it would show that community engagements plan by lecturers should strive to introduce students [teachers-in-training] to prolific veterans in-service or retired [just like the multilingual gentleman I met who is so valuable yet he has already left the system]. Indeed, there is hope that future teachers can become democratised through such exceptional interactions. In this way, setting up of collaborative engagements, become spontaneous by being easy to form, manage and thus sustain.

Through empathy, every educator should know that a rigid delivery of lesson content delimits the moral duty of mentally preparing students about the socio-economic challenges of the future. Moreover, the workplace’s relationship with the disability as a social subsystem with regard to productivity and workplace access could assist in the failure to promote an authentic delivery of the curriculum, as designed and prescribed to mould future citizens. Indeed, democracy education should remain an inherent tool to re-shape how South Africa imagine its future. Teachers are attuned to the knowledge that students operate with, both the subconscious goal and overt aspiration of getting a formal educational qualification, to primarily undertake a desired career path and open doors to economically decent participation in the job market via employment. In contrast, post-school contexts avail further challenges, such as the strict and rigid demand for experienced job seekers who can educationally adapt to a modernised, digitally intensive workplace. Demands of the 4th Industrial revolution-ready job seeker would always mean that either job search or employment contexts for people with disabilities greatly compete with better educated youth. Historically, the contraction of economies leading to retrenchments is another unavoidable challenge which teachers of today should image as workplace simulations in their lesson plans as to enhance traits of collaborative engagements by stakeholders.

The identification and confrontation of community or societal issues which share strong connections with the formal educational environment, such as curriculum deliverables, either at primary or secondary school stages has become an inherent by default duty of the majority of teachers in South Africa. Numerous social issues such as poverty, invisible malnutrition, divorce, invisible first trimester teenage pregnancy, unemployment, being an orphan, HIV/AIDS, silenced sexual abuse trauma, illegal or prescriptive drug misuse and others usually become translocated into the classroom, and pose as a challenge to any teacher’s management of timeous and quality curriculum delivery versus learner competence academically. We should recognise that these issues unintentionally or subtly compete for space and time with the educational content which squarely lies on the shoulders of the teachers employed to successfully deliver it. On the whole, a polarised view of this situation is likely to stimulate a politicised outlook of contemporary South Africa’s socio-educational context. While teachers are pedagogically called to shape future citizens through the delivery of pre-set learning material in a formalised setting, the burdens emanating from societies enter the classroom uninvited and forcefully reimage the teacher’s surrogacy responsibilities, thereby disrupting curriculum outcomes. Two alternatives abound. The curriculum-pace focused teacher may opt to become a silent visionary who has the needs and expectations of his duty given that he functions to satisfy the superiority value-adding figure of authority, by a drive to produce academic excellence above the obvious or suspect social issues sharing space and time with the children. To demonstrate, a geography teacher known for finishing the syllabus will focus more on the conservative didactic aspects namely, coverage of syllabus content, mastery of content, regurgitation of content and gross promotion to the next grade. The postmodern or democratised didactic aspects, such as disability category issues which challenge ordinary or normal academic attainment will become seldom accommodate. The likelihood is to view the student as the problem, not the disability issues affecting smooth learning or the acquisition of content.

In contrast, if he epitomises the Ubuntu-ist teacher in A Case in Context Y the curriculum-pace focused teacher may radicalise, thus transform it into Ubuntuism. In this scenario, the teacher’s view of the modern classroom openly and humanely invite opinions and stimulate diverse responses of both lay and expert citizens at both near and wider communities’ contexts. South Africa’s Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) policy standardise procedures as to identify, assess and provide programmes for all students requiring additional support to enhance their participation and inclusion in an educational setting [36]. The SIAS document sternly promotes the notion of a teacher who plans and applies the principle of expanded opportunities, where each learner has the curriculum paced according to their diverse individual learning style needs, without compromising the whole-school conclusion of curriculum-pace. Unfortunately, the above ideal reflects the OBE administrative burden. The latter alternative represents the ideal teacher while being more political, she refuses to compromise the core business of the teacher to teach. She is political by virtue of recognising that formal teaching is entwined with the live of the community wherein the teacher was once a child- this in essence enforce this teacher to remain possibly alert not silent. Secondly, after work, the same teacher becomes part of the community which has entrusted her to shape its future citizens. Whether she chooses to just purely vocalise her concerns or opts to publicly attract opinions on the pertinent social issue through the principal’s office, in the church meeting, via newspapers’ editorial sections in national or regional tabloids, is realistically inconsequential.

Simply, the where question does not have to be geographic and visible first, but rather should become found and sustained at an intellectual place, for it to be labelled as vibrant democracy or postmodernity. At most, it might have to do with where as a country is South Africa compared to other countries in as far as the pace of its role and intervention programmes relate to the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. The crux of the moral matter is that the teacher has taken a radical stance, or publicised social platform to highlight educational challenges which hamper both curriculum delivery (the silent teacher’s methodology) as well as social development (politicised teacher’s view). Hence, this chapter aims to stimulate an argument which may be raised by readers to magnify the distinct of prominent traits representing democratised versus aristocratised role playing. Worse, any country or institution’s sustainability of collaborative engagements towards the year 2030 milestone can suffer greatly if any leader thereof subtly or openly opts for the autocratisation of operations by paralysing progressive policies designed to reasonably accommodate the historically vulnerable citizens. For clarity, please visit Reflection Box 2 below.

Agenda 2030 milestone for sustainable development.

Visit this website and take relevant content from it to include as part of your Assessment Activity.

Disability, without focus on its type, intensity, prevalence or occurrence is regarded as a sensitive socio-educational context. If all these issues are ignored or permitted to sustain; teachers can become morally responsible for committing gross human rights violations, on an equal basis with the wider societies who might have observed, yet not acted drastically on these troubled children’s unintentional burden. Succinctly, the authors of this chapter envisage readers to understand the concept of socio-educational recurriculation from this stance. A democratic approach to address critical human rights issues by societies as well as professionals within the school settings or receiving tertiary training to become teachers, is considered to be well suited to a collaborative effort as a means of empowering people with disability through the creation of a dialogical atmosphere of equality. After two decades (1994–2014) of South Africa’s journey into becoming an ideal democratic state in the African continent. Recent socio-educational research on legislative efforts towards the development of both a solid and visible pragma to protect and promote human rights of citizens with a disability has pointed to a dearth of reciprocating actions among concerned stakeholders.

The hope therefore, is to idealise future interactions wherein employers and employees would be sensitive regarding which social trends would emulate harassment or the marginalisation of certain population groups and thus guard against being perpetrators by ignorance. One the best ways to solidify a culture of democracy within the conscience of future citizens is by making classrooms visually and verbally sensitised to issues relating to disability. Modern teachers should stimulate a sustained atmosphere of inquiry as to how students as educated adult citizens should raise questions and seek responses which could shape the future ideals of empowered communities.


4. Reflections on the future of empowered citizens with a disability

A democratised teacher should openly cherish the vision of an educated citizen who could contribute ideas, visible effort and emotions to shape the future on how society should normalise or modify opinions, beliefs, policies, facilities and infrastructure for the population with disabilities. The job seeker who is educated with a physical disability could possibly be supported in a more constructive manner, especially in class situations where democratic education is uphold. Being sensitive to the notion that disability is unpredictable and its severity and onset can affect any citizen in the future. Case Study 2 below, is highlighted to stimulate innovative ideas and discussions on the re-curriculation of a democratised teacher with a post-modernity mindset, against the conservative-immediate academic goal driven teacher. The case studies to follow, are discussed against the backdrop of Mhlongo and Alexander’s research studies in 2013, wherein contemporary South Africa’s socio-educational landscape was found to represent a fragmented relationship between various prominent subsystems [37]. The following research findings reflected the currently fragmented employment equity context:

  • The young and educated job seeker with a disability showed great motivation to seek decent employment and contribute towards a productive workplace.

  • Inadequate and non-existent monitoring and evaluation of employment equity trends and legislative frameworks in the workplace vis a vis the EEA’s Section 6 [1]

  • A great dearth of print job adverts which failed visually, to attract educated people with a disability meant majority of South Africa’s workplaces do not display a democratised atmosphere to reasonably accommodate job seekers and potential employees from diverse vulnerable population groups.

The first scenario, Case Study 1 reflects the traditional teachers’ probable or simulated contribution towards the perpetuation of a polarised future. Case Study 2 represents the ideal inclusive education minded teacher.

The traditional teacher.

Practices and perceptions which limits access and participation in the economy, tend to create dualized barriers for the disability population of job seeker. Mhlongo and Alexander [3, 4, 37] have noted that while all educated young people struggle to find employment; the notion of disability and normal prolonged job search doubles the effort to secure a job or acceptance into a decent workplace. The unperturbed or apparent negative attitude against people with disabilities as unproductive; by the future employer (let us say, by the year 2019) who received little or no democracy education in the past (during the year 2015) is the greatest socially unjust influence. With certainty, the departure point of this chapter would also put the blame for the supposedly educated employer, squarely on the shoulders of the modern teacher. This would be a teacher who misconstrued the objective of the prescribed curriculum, by equating it with a quest for excellent academic results instead of reducing unjust future human rights practices.

Tips for Transformation into a Democratised Teacher:

  1. How can learners become sensitised to possible classroom barriers relating to disability?

    Suggestion 1: Familiarisation with the Education White Paper 6 policy document and SIAS document for classroom inclusion instruments.

    Suggestion 2: Form a group discussion for Recommended Reading 2

  2. How to set a democratic culture within a school where all learners are represented?

    Suggestion 1: Form a discussion forum wherein the group brainstorms values and attitudes which impede and promote workplace participation for people with disabilities.

    Suggestion 2: Visit Recommended Reading 8

Now, compare Case Study 1 with Case Study 2 to help you shape objective outcomes from your discussion.

The postmodern teacher

(Also view Table 4: The Influence of Fundamental Human Rights on Modern Legislative Framework; in the chapter titled: Creating a Democratic Culture in Managing Classroom Contexts of Disability – PART 1)

Alternatively, the inclusiveness of policies in all subsystems such as the monitoring and evaluation of structural designs of buildings and neo-disability functionality technologies could become a vibrant part of a graphic design and construction engineering lesson in a school. Having a policy on disability sensitivity being actualized, where ramps are built to reasonably accommodate learners, visitors and teachers using wheelchairs; fittingly represents this democratic ideal. An inclusive school would practically contribute in creating a future world which would reflect the mandate of the ILO and WHO, as envisioned by the social justice aura found in

A question to consider:

>Which critical values and attitudes can be selected by the schools and the broader community to shape a policy on disability sensitivity?

Suggestion 1: Propose an action plan wherein you debate the essential human, financial and infrastructural resource needed to operationalise the policy, i.e. building material and labour costs.

Being in the position of a person with a disability you can use a wheelchair for a while so that you get the feeling of disability reality and become sensitive to the challenges faced by these citizens. Authentic engagements concerning contextual factors for both personal and environmental influences; impacting on the daily live experiences of a person with a disability. South Africa’s disability context as a socio-educational subsystem from being a mere theoretical diagram towards becoming a rational reflection of the realities and complexities associated with disability. Where assets for youth development are lacking the community should develop dialogue and device self-help projects [38, 39]. After two decades, the Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities social justice proposal, could be accelerated if modern teachers carry the torch of a democratised view of critical classroom interactions synonymous to collaborative engagements as an essential community asset to promote disability diversity [40]. An ideal democratised inclusive education context ensures self-help mechanisms should be designed with innovation from the assets that the community has; instead of always looking at the government as a social subsystem only for assistance. We can lament that governments, such as South Africa are neglecting their social justice mandates, while we do our little bit to address modern social concerns through sustainable collaborative engagements.


5. Conclusion

Running across the entire chapter, discussions focused on sustainable collaborative engagements as a social sciences suggestion, to pave a successful route to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals. The chapter aligned with the postmodernist vision of availing self-help techniques, such as critical dialogue and resource innovation for decent economic participation in the future was discussed within the philosophical realm of the social ecology theory. In contrast to the internal-psychological trait of learned helplessness by being a discouraged job seeker or passive to stigmatisation, the modern mainstream schooling system should legislatively and morally bind teachers to be visibly democratised through neo-inclusive pedagogic strategies. To have a successful journey towards reaching the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 milestone for creating and sustaining transformative contexts of disability on the workplace of the future, this chapter emphasised that school management and the classrooms settings should remain one crucial and vibrant community outlets. To stimulate the reader’s critical thinking and the teacher of today’s inclusive lesson planning and actions, numerous reflective boxes and assessment activities were developed as part of discussions across this chapter.



Assessment Guideline: To determine your competency in the application of inclusive education terminology and design of inclusive classroom lesson planning, with the objective of democratising future workplace contexts to accommodate citizens with disabilities.

  • Open and study the website link in Reflection Box 2: Use some of its relevant details to enhance your dual approach

  • Consult the glossary below to address future disability issues

  1. ASSESSMENT THEME: Socio-Educational Taxonomy of Disability Issues

Assessment Objective: You are expected to academically demonstrate an intellectual capability to distinguish between acceptable and discriminatory social trends towards people with a disability in both educational and social contexts. A scientific approach is thus strongly recommended with an introduction, body, conclusion and bibliography.

Research and Debate: The classification (taxonomy) of thoughts and actions which citizens purposefully exhibit regarding disability issues. These are represented by the terminology which symbolises unfair, unjust or discriminatory tendencies towards citizens with any form of disability. The democratic ideal; which is the opposite of discriminations based on disability; contains terminology which promote acceptance and fair treatment of the historically disadvantaged populations or citizens. Please familiarise yourself with these concepts through internet or library research and conduct informed or inquisitive debate platforms with experts, as well as teaching and student mates.

Reflect: Both Case Studies 1 and 2 synergises with A Case in Context X. Here, the aim is to address the pedagogic dilemma posed by traditionally generic lesson plan designs which homogenises every child in a classroom. Reflect on contrasts between the traditional and postmodern/inclusive education lesson templates.

Reflect: Visit Case Studies 1 and 2 which intentionally overlap with Scenario 1. The pedagogic objective is to stimulate self-interrogation by the teachers in training or in practice as to which ideal they would like to visibly inculcate in their present classrooms and its desired future actions of learners.

To Do: Write a 300–350 words proposal, wherein you use at least eight of the terminology below to make a convincing argument in support of Citizen Y’s plight. Motivate why Citizen X should visibly treat job seekers and employees with disabilities fairly. Also, formulate a glossary of your eight chosen concepts at the end of your essay.

1.1. Ability supremacy mindset1.10. Employment equity
1.2. Affirmative action1.11. Historically marginalised population
1.3. Capability stigmatism1.12. Mindset modification
1.4. Decent work policies1.13. Modernism versus Postmodernism
1.5. Disability rights advocacy1.14. Participation limitations
1.6. Economic empowerment1.15. Population Diversity
1.7. Economically active citizens1.16. Reasonable accommodation
1.8. Employment equity1.17. Resource modification
1.9. Economically active citizens1.18. Workplace stereotypes


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Written By

Duma Mhlongo and Gregory Alexander

Submitted: January 8th, 2021 Reviewed: February 23rd, 2021 Published: April 2nd, 2021