Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

International Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education

Committee Chair

Daniel M. Lee

Commitee Members

Patty Kero, John Matt, William P. McCaw, Tobin Miller Shearer


apartheid, critical pedagogy, education, leadership, Paulo Freire, South Africa


University of Montana


This qualitative study employed a phenomenological approach to examine how teachers, school leaders, and students rationalize their roles in the educational process when their institution is bounded by an educational system that openly strives against them. For a context, this study examined apartheid-era South Africa, from 1948 to 1994, which established social and administrative policies that deliberately curtailed the education of Indigenous and other South Africans, as a means of oppressing non-European ethnic groups.

In lieu of face-to-face interviews, stories and interviews submitted to The Apartheid Archive Project, curated by the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa, portrayed the experience of education under apartheid. Relevant testimonials were examined using the phenomenological approach described by Moustakas (1994), and interpreted through the perspective of critical pedagogy, with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) as the key source. The central question asked, “How do personal experiences of an oppressive school system, as interpreted through the framework of Freirean education, inform school leaders?”

The conclusion required school leaders to recognize and embrace the role of schools and education in social change – a role that leads toward the recognition of oppression, and provides a means of liberation. Oppression infiltrates school systems, impinges upon the educational process, and robs students of learning opportunities. In recognizing this, educators engage their responsibility as school leaders, and embrace the pivotal role education plays in social reconstruction, liberation, and humanization.



© Copyright 2021 Kevin Bruce Deitle