“Mending Bridges”: English Teachers Teaching for Social Cohesion

Vincent Nojaja, Leila Kajee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores English Home and First Additional Language (English HL/FAL) teachers’ insights into social cohesion and what their understandings imply for teaching the language in diverse secondary schools in South Africa. Twenty-seven years into democracy, South African society remains beset with social challenges, such as increasing inequalities, poverty, and violence indicating intolerance and a general decline of moral fibre in society. Guided by the theory of social justice in education and supported by the notion that critical pedagogy has the potential to transform society, this qualitative case study explored English teachers’ perceptions of a cohesive society, and the way they teach for such a society. This study explored whether their theoretical understanding of the concept improves teachers’ positioning of education in diverse secondary schools, to achieve the broader objectives outlined in the national curriculum, and successfully foster social change in post-apartheid South African society. Conducted through the method a qualitative exploratory case study, data were elicited through semi-structured interviews and lesson observations of seven English HL/FAL teachers from three diverse secondary schools in Merafong City, in the Gauteng Province, in South Africa. Using content analysis to analyse data, this study found that teachers perceived a cohesive society as one of solidarity, respect, peace, humanity, and equal treatment. Interestingly, some teachers could not clearly link the concept with formal education, or in fact, English teaching, something which indicated that their pedagogic knowledge is limited, thus impeding the process of improving social cohesion in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • English Education
  • Social Cohesion
  • Social Justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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