The Constitution of South Africa envisions a socially just society. However, realising this requires an education context that amongst other things, celebrates and promotes cultural diversity. Widely known as the rainbow nation, South Africa is home to diverse cultures, both from within and from all over Africa and the rest of the world. This fact poses particular challenges to education, which is not only required to provide a multi-cultural educational context conducive to effective teaching and learning, but also to promote social justice. However, indications are that SA education fails dismally to achieve both ends. We argue that part of the reason for this failure is the inability of (pre-service) education students to understand, acknowledge and validate the intrinsic relationship that exists between culture and education. As such, they hamper efforts to realise social justice through education. In this paper we report on the perceptions regarding the relationship between culture and education of third- and fourth-year education students at a university in South Africa. We conducted quantitative research amongst a culturally diverse group of students; 266 in total. Findings suggest that students have a limited understanding of this relationship, in spite of the efforts both this university, as well as the education authorities’ attempts. The paper concludes with recommendations for enhancing sensitivity amongst education students about the relationship between culture and education, and the possible implications for social justice as a result of ignorance of this issue.
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