Original Research - Special Collection: Foundation subjects, Old and New Testament Studies

Rural education: Reimagining the role of the church in transforming poverty in South Africa

Christo Thesnaar
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2629 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2629 | © 2014 Christo Thesnaar | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 February 2014 | Published: 10 October 2014

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Christo Thesnaar, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

The desire to remember the plight of the poor in South Africa has reduced in the last 20 years after the transition from apartheid to freedom. To a large extent, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and the religious society at large have lost their ‘dangerous memory’ which keeps us mindful of those who suffered and whose plight is usually forgotten or suppressed. In this contribution the conditions of poor farm school children in multigrade rural education will be scrutinised by unpacking the contextual factors that cause us to forget their plight. This article will seek to reimagine the role of the church in poverty-stricken South Africa by engaging with the work of Talcott Parsons, the practical theologian Johannes A. Van der Ven, as well as the work of the political theologian Johann Baptist Metz in order to affirm the focus of Practical Theology to transform society and to contribute to the quest for justice and liberation for the poor in rural education. This reimagining discourse has a fundamental responsibility to challenge the social, political and economic realities that shape the lives of human beings within rural education, remembering the plight of the poor, and participating on their journey towards liberation and healing. It is proposed that if the church can activate its ‘dangerous memory’ it will be able to reimagine its role by transforming our poverty-stricken South African society, open new avenues for breaking the cycle of poverty and contribute to rural education.

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