The idea of ‘social inclusion’ is a relatively new one in the policy terrain. To some extent, it has supplanted earlier concepts of social cohesion and social capital. Current thinking around society has moved on considerably since Mrs. Thatcher’s notorious dismissal of ‘society’. In South Africa the term has gained currency because of concern about growing inequalities which, at times, seem to overwhelm any considerations of what it means to be a South African.
This edition of Focus celebrates 20 years of democracy in South Africa. But it also draws attention to some of the institutional, economic and social problems which have either emerged, or which carry over from the pre-1994 dispensation. Notwithstanding all these discontents – which, no doubt, are exacerbated by the turbulent global context – there is much to celebrate in our constitutional democracy. Above all, we should never forget where we have come from, even though it is not all that clear where we are heading. Perhaps we will know a little bit more after 7 May
This edition of Focus is devoted to exploring some of the issues which confront state and society in South Africa. Three distinct themes emerge, namely, the Executive and the state apparatus dealing with prosecution and security; foreign policy in relation to Africa; and, lastly, the challenges facing South African universities (including their admission policies).
This year marks 100 years since the passing of the Natives Land Act of 1913. This Act has had profound consequences not only for individuals and communities, but it has also, in part, determined the political trajectories of modern South Africa. This edition of Focus is devoted to the Land Question.
In their extraordinary tribute to the bourgeoisie in the Communist Manifesto – and whatever else that tract may be, it is also a tribute to the bourgeoisie – Marx and Engels pointed out that the bourgeoisie had rescued a “considerable amount of the population from the idiocy of their rural life”.1 For Marx and Engels the city became the locus of all that was modern and progressive, but also alienating. These twin themes of progress and alienation still characterize our thinking on cities. While those who have the means may opt – like Marie Antoinette in the 18th century – to have quasi rural retreats in such idyllic places as Greyton, McGregor, Polokwane or Parys, the majority of South Africans are confined to urban settings; and it is these urban settings that are the subject of this edition of Focus.
Welcome to the first 2013 issue of Focus, devoted to education and organised along the themes of Overcoming and Innovation. This issue of Focus is an attempt to broaden and deepen the education debate, moving beyond our stagnant litany of educational woes. It includes personal perspectives, as well as expert opinions, because education should be understood as much through the lived experience of learners and families as through policies and theories. There is an emphasis on the Arts, an increasingly neglected weapon in our armoury against both ignorance and exclusion.