International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 171-187

First online:

Intercultural and cross-cultural assessment of self-esteem among youth in Twenty-first Century South Africa

  • Adebowale AkandeAffiliated withDepartment Bedryfsosiologie, Potchefstroomse Universiteit

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The perceptions of self may differ from one cultural context to another. I explored this possibility in 191 South African children between 12 and 13 years of age. This paper is an extension of research on the appropriateness of Marsh/Shavelson model of self-concept for the nonWestern subjects. Responses to a standard Self-Description Questionnaire-1 (SDQ-1) revealed, the item-scale correlations and reliability coefficients obtained were encouraging. Factor analysis generally supported both the specific facets of the SDQ-1 and the existence of an underlying general self-concept factor. These results are then considered in relation to other evidence of the cross-cultural validity of both the SDQ-1 and the Shavelson model of the self. Comparisons of the South African means to those of previously reported Australian, Kenyan, Nigerian, Nepalese and Zimbabwean children of the same age indicated that there was a tendency for the South Africans to have relatively higher opinions of their personal appearance (non-academic self-esteem) than youngsters from other countries. Alternative interpretations appeared to be useful in gaining better understanding of implications of the results for the school counsellor's role in helping students and teachers build self-esteem. The need to belong, or to feel a sense of self-worth, inclusion and significance virtually affect the learning process. The self-descriptions of Black youth provide evidence that young people are important, vital, and active in nation-building. Recognition should be given to culture and racial-specific views people bring to the counselling relationship.