Original Research - Special Collection: HTS 75th Anniversary Maake Masango Dedication

The search for a moral compass and a new social contract in the context of citizenship education

Johannes L. van der Walt
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5359 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5359 | © 2019 Johannes L. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2018 | Published: 23 April 2019

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Johannes L. van der Walt, EduH-Right Research Area, Faculty of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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Some observers regard South Africa as one of the most violent, lawless and morally depraved societies in the world. Several other countries around the world can be shown to be similarly afflicted. In South Africa’s case, this condition might be because of political transformation, particularly the lingering effects of the struggle against past injustices (apartheid, racism) inflicted on sections of the population. The social instability has been exacerbated by an influx of migrants and a resultant increase in diversity. One way of attempting to assuage this situation is to harness the school subject known as ‘citizenship education’ for guiding the upcoming generations into committing to a new moral compass, that is, awareness or consciousness with a conscience, and to an accompanying new social contract. Finding a rationale for such a moral compass and social contract that all the citizens of South Africa and of other similarly stricken countries would be prepared to commit to is a daunting task because people tend to be subjective in reflecting about their personal and group views, particularly about their religious beliefs and convictions. Closer examination reveals, however, that despite all the diversity, differences and conflict prevalent in societies, people are potentially able to share a set of basic values that arguably could form the core of the sought-for moral compass. Citizenship education could be functional in bringing home to the next generation the notion of henceforth living in accordance with the precepts of such a moral compass and social contract.


Citizenship education; Morality; Moral compass; Social contract; Religion


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