Re: ANC Political Education program

From: David H Kirshner (
Date: Sun Aug 29 2004 - 06:57:54 PDT

Interesting document, Andy.

I'm trying to resolve the apparent mismatch between this being a "Plan of Action for Political Education" for the ANC--a body that is a political organization with a definite political philosophy and agenda--and the open-ended, non-ideological flavor of the classes:

"The requirement is that the text must be sufficient to generate dialogue of a political nature between the participants. There must be no sense of indoctrination or drilling involved. ... There should be no attempt to insist on the use of particular texts. Wide freedom should be allowed to any study group to use any text it wishes. It should be regarded as a sign of the maturity of any particular study group, that it has preferences and particular interests it wishes to pursue."

I compare, for instance, these classes with our own XMCA in which there are not any specific guidelines as to what we should read (this is decided jointly, often democratically), or how we should talk about them (individuals make these decisions as they compose their contributions). Still, the purpose of the listserve, to explore and extend sociohistorical psychology, influences our decisions. Furthermore, there is a social structure of central and peripheral participation in the list that creates and enforces normative standards for content and participation. XMCA is framed by a sense of expertise that shapes somewhat different purposes for different participants (e.g., to learn vs. to extend theory).


In the ANC classes, the prescribed function of the chairperson of the class is to "encourage all participants to join in" --indeed, "The chairperson encourages and protects [those who may be] shy when talking about politics." However, this is done without losing sight of the fact that "the participants are supposed to become political cadres."


How is the chairperson selected? Is he/she a more central participant? Does the apparent neutral, facilitative role of the chairperson hide the actual function of enforcing a normative political agenda? If not through the chairperson, is there some other device for ensuring a convergent educational enterprise, or is the sponsorship of the classes by the ANC sufficient to ensure a convergent program? If the latter, what does this say about the power relations between the ANC and the broader society in South Africa?


David Kirshner

Louisiana State University

Andy Blunden <>
08/29/2004 08:02 PM ZE10
Please respond to xmca

bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU
Subject: ANC Political Education program

Below is a

document drafted for a local ANC branch in South Afrcia,
on Political Education. The author has given permission for me to share
this on the XMCA list for the purpose of getting advice from sympathetic,
professional educators. Any comments would be most welcome and can be
sent to



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