UBUNTU SCHOOL CULTURE AND POSITIVE STUDENT BEHAVIOUR

A.P. Amushigamo, C. Smith

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
“Umuntu ngumentu ngabandu” (a human being is human through other human beings). The African ground motif of ubuntu incorporates values of “interdependence and solidarity of communities of affection.” Traditionally, in African cultures whole communities take responsibility for a child’s upbringing. However, it is generally accepted that this ubuntu way of being has been lost in Namibian schools, secondary schools in particular. This is an account of a Namibian secondary school that has rediscovered the value of ubuntu, where individual actions, behaviours and attitudes flow from the concept of ubuntu.

The school selected for this study is renowned for its community spirit and positive student behaviour. In order to explore role-players’ perceptions of the core ways of being of this school an interpretive case study design was adopted. The school is located in a peri-urban area in the north of the country. Focus group interviews were held with students, teachers and parents respectively and an in-depth interview was conducted with the school principal. Participant observation was conducted for two weeks. And relevant documents were analysed. Thematic data analysis procedures were followed.

The findings indicate that the organisation culture of this school is characterised by values and practices, such as care and community, associated with the African ubuntu culture. This case study provides evidence of how a school that purposefully seeks to practice the ubuntu way, where the school community joins hands in guiding and supporting students, where “the students are because the community is”, can positively influence student behaviour. This study is significant in that the participating school provides an example of indigenous practices that foster positive student behaviour in a secondary school in an African context.