Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 23, Issue 2–3, pp 149–160 | Cite as

The Notion of Ubuntu and Communalism in African Educational Discourse

  • Elza Venter


The notion of ubuntu and communalism is of great importance in anAfrican educational discourse, as well as inAfrican Philosophy of Education and in Africanphilosophical discourse. Ubuntu is aphilosophy that promotes the common good ofsociety and includes humanness as an essentialelement of human growth.

In African culture the community always comesfirst. The individual is born out of and intothe community, therefore will always be part ofthe community. Interdependence, communalism, sensitivity towards others and caring for others are all aspects of ubuntu as a philosophy of life (Le Roux, 2000, p. 43). The community and belonging to acommunity is part of the essence of traditionalAfrican life. Philosophy of life and Philosophyof Education, thus, go together, because aphilosophy of life helps to identify the goalsand purposes that a particular society holdsdear.

Humanness is very important in Africanphilosophy in the sense of seeing human needs,interests and dignity as fundamental to humanexistence and therefore it will also beimportant in African Philosophy of Education(Letseka, 2000, p. 182). According to Letseka(2000, p. 186) nobody is born with botho orubuntu– these are communally acceptedand desirable ethical standards that a personacquires throughout his/her life and thereforeeducation also plays a very important role intransferring the African philosophy of life.

African philosophy African philosophy of education communalism educational discourse humanness ubuntu 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elza Venter
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of South AfricaUnisaSouth Africa

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