Learners in the marketplace: Ethical and educational dilemmas




Since the abolishment of legislation (the South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996) stipulating that a learner may only attend a certain school in an area, there is great competition amongst schools to attract learners to their schools. There is a tendency to regard as commodities learners who can be seen as assets to the school, especially if these learners show a talent for sports and have outstanding sporting achievements. The main aim of the research was to determine whether school principals, learners and parents think that it is unethical to ‘buy’ talented learners. A qualitative research approach was undertaken to determine the views of a purposefully selected sample of school principals, learners and parents regarding the ‘buying’ of talented learners. These participants were chosen as they were important role players in the process of ‘buying’ talented learners. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire with semistructured and open-ended questions. The participants’ answers were critically analysed, and the ethical correctness was determined by evaluating them against the ethical ideas identified in five ethical approaches, namely the utilitarian approach, the rights approach, the fairness or justice approach, the virtue approach and the ethical problem solving approach. An extrapolation of these findings gives one an idea of our society’s attitude to the ‘buying’of talented learners and whether a need exists to actively create greater awareness of this practice. The findings are significant to illustrate the different viewpoints of school principals,talented learners and parents on the ethical and educational dilemmas of schools that ‘buy’ talented learners.

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