This paper examines indigenous perspectives of democracy from interviews with principals from 12 secondary, intermediate, and primary schools in South Africa’s oldest township in the Western Cape province. Because school administrators serve as mediators between state policies
and enacted school curriculum, principals’ views about democracy and education’s role in developing democratic citizens warrant attention. Poverty, unemployment, health, and housing remain primary social concerns affecting educational quality in South Africa. In such circumstances,
school leadership especially influences school climate and students’ attitudes toward learning. The findings of this study ‐ the first of its kind to explore constructions of democracy held by principals working in a historically disadvantaged township outside Cape Town ‐
provide insights as to how local culture and globalizing forces influence the culturally relevant democratic education advocated by these school leaders in South Africa.
World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.