Transforming teacher education in South Africa for the democratic era - Fanie Pretorius
Orientation: teacher education in a process of transformation
Teacher education in South Africa is undergoing a process of transformation at present. Universities and other institutions engaged in teacher education are rethinking their strategy with regard to the aims, identity, structure, programmes, management and control of teacher training.1
This process involves fundamental changes and must be seen against the background of a broad transformation—political, economic and social—taking place throughout the country.
It must also be seen in the light of the restructuring of the education system as a whole. Where the education system is being transformed, it follows that both the role and the education of teachers are, of necessity, in the limelight. Transformation of the education system and facets thereof, such as education policy, the curriculum, management and control of schools, cannot take place without major consequences for teacher education.
THE ESSENTIALS OF THE TRANSFORMATION
Since the democratic elections in 1994, a series of transformations has taken place in South African education. With regard to these developments, the education policy makers must consider the pattern of contrasts and paradoxes inherent in the country's educational structure:
Consequently, the transformation of education as a whole is essential in eradicating the imbalances of the past.
Apart from addressing the gross inequalities in the internal educational attainment, skills and employment opportunities, education policy makers must also, in this era of globalization, keep up with developments in the international economic and educational arenas.
From six recent research visits (to the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand), it has become clear that many countries have launched major educational restructuring programmes within the past ten years. In addition, Holdaway (1991, p. 13) and the National Institute for Educational Research of Japan (1991, p. 58-59) report reforms in the education systems of Canada, Hawaii and some other countries of Asia and the Pacific.
It is evident from this research that there are major similarities in reform trends. Guthrie & Pierce (1990, p. 202) are, for example, of the opinion that 'a similar model of modern public education' is developing worldwide. Although still indefinite, the characteristics of an international model are becoming noticeable. Holdaway (1991, p. 13) indicates that education systems are increasingly being influenced by developments in other countries.
Concerning the transformation of education in South Africa, the question arises as to what extent education should, in conjunction with internal requirements, take cognizance of global tendencies. The paramount task of transformation, as seen by the Ministry of Education, is 'to build a just and equitable system which provides good quality education and training to learners young and old throughout the country' (RSA, 1995a, p. 17). However, to ignore global economic and educational tendencies would have dire consequences for the country.
The focus of this article is teacher education. Of particular concern is the preparation of a future South African education corps which would be in harmony with both the requirements of an internally equitable system and with a global society and global trends in educational provision. For this purpose, attention is given to the following:
Global forces influencing educational provision
From research findings in the countries previously mentioned, it is apparent that education reforms may be due in part to the following global forces:
THE EMERGENCE OF A GLOBAL ECONOMY
Countries of the world strive towards economic co-operation as a means of forming greater power bases. At the same time, intense competition is the order of the day. For the United States, for example, maintaining its position as the world's leading economy is of singular importance (see United States Department of Education, 1994, p. vii). Likewise, Guthrie & Pierce (1990, p. 191) state that educational restructuring in the United Kingdom is designed to make the country 'economically more competitive'.
In conjunction with the ascent of the global economy, there are far-reaching technological inventions which have a major impact on education. Contemporary technology, especially in the fields of computerization and telecommunications, is more pervasive and sophisticated than ever before. Researchers are of the opinion that countries that do not adapt swiftly to technological inventions fall behind, which rapidly threatens both the standard of living and the government's political future. Productivity and quality are enhanced by the use of modern technology. However, modern technology sets rigorous standards and requires superior education and training of the labour corps.
NEW FORMS OF WORK ORGANIZATION
The demands of higher productivity and quality, as well as the necessity of keeping up with technological advances, have various implications for the world of work, including the manner in which organizations are managed. Devolution of authority, participatory forms of management, democratic leadership and decreasing bureaucratic rigidity are the order of the day. In the so-called high performance work organizations, greater use is made of the skills and abilities of workers. Vocations are more flexible and understanding of the aims of the organization, teamwork and rotation are often key elements of the new model. Essential requirements in such organizations are the presence of more insight and understanding than in the traditional workplace, good communication skills, creativity and co-operation between workers.
HIGHER EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS
In the context of the aforementioned matters, the premium placed on education is gradually increasing. It is generally understood that countries which succeed in sustaining high standards in education also succeed in training a dynamic working corps. Such countries have a greater chance of upholding economic competition in the international economic arena. In certain countries, the endeavour to maintain high standards is the core of educational provision. Education must, however, be provided differently than in the past. For a considerable time, employers have been of the opinion that education is much too academically oriented. Education should put far greater emphasis on essential skills needed for the modern market place.
Against the background of these global forces, the restructuring of education systems is taking place in the countries that have been visited.
Global trends in educational provision
A personal interpretation of the findings of the international research mentioned brings to light the following similar trends in educational restructuring:
A NEW AWARENESS
There is similarity in the countries referred to above such that, in this era of intense economic competition, the labour force of a country should be better educated if the country is to be competitive and remain that way. More and better education is essential in the preparation of a dynamic work force.
In the educational history of various countries, there have been endeavours at certain stages to achieve equal opportunities and to attain a just society through quantitative development in education. At present the tendency is, as in the case of Japan for example, to strive towards qualitative fulfilment rather than to be focused on equal opportunities. The accent thus falls on quality education and more of it.
BROAD FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES
The provision of excellent and relevant education calls for fundamental changes in every facet of schooling: in educational policy, management and control, as well as in content and involvement from the community. For example, it is emphasized that the management principles of successful business organizations should also be applied to the management of educational institutions. In addition, educational content should undergo a change of emphasis, from more academically oriented education to greater stress placed on technological training and preparation for the world of work.
There is an awareness of the fact that learners in school at present will enter the work force by the turn of the century. The task of education is therefore to prepare them for the year 2000 and beyond. Visions of the future foresee a world caught up in the forces of a global economy, economic competition and technological advancement. The emphasis in education should take these forces into account.
UTILITARIAN AIMS: EDUCATION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The further development of post-industrial economies is inevitably based on science and technology. These are the fields of expertise which are highlighted in curricula.
DEVELOPMENT OF SKILLS
It has become evident that there have been shifts in work-place organization. The skills required of the contemporary worker are different from those that were needed in the industrial era. Besides increased proficiency in the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic (the 3Rs), increased outcomes such as adaptability, creativity, the ability to solve problems, interpersonal and communication skills, competence in teamwork, the ability to learn independently and a healthy work ethic are required of education. The development of such capabilities is clearly present in the reconstructional aims of education systems.
A NATIONAL CURRICULUM AND STANDARDS
Contemporary education systems aspire to higher standards in educational provision. In Japan, for example, the goal is that of qualitative achievement. In the United Kingdom, England ensures that all learners have a carefully developed, broad and balanced curriculum with clear aims and measurable standards of progress. Students in the United States are being educated towards the goal of world leadership in science and mathematics by the turn of the century. Although the United States does not enforce a national curriculum, exact national standards are required in all subjects and at all levels of development. Although voluntary, the aim is that such standards should serve as a frame of reference for what should be accomplished. High standards are seen as the heart of reform.
The emphasis in national curricula is definitely towards more basic education, such as has long been the practice in Japan. Additional emphasis is placed upon technological competence through the means of technology as a school subject, in which technological dexterity is stressed. In addition to a national curriculum, there is the tendency towards a national system of evaluation on specific developmental levels, in which learner ability is compared to national standards.
LOCAL MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS
Although there is a trend towards greater central control over educational content and standards through the medium of a national curriculum and system of evaluation, the tendency is also towards a devolution of operational decision-making to the school level. In essence, this trend indicates that the responsibility and accountability for schools are transferred to parents and local communities. This includes, inter alia, increased responsibility concerning school finances, appointment of teachers, admission of pupils and the organization of the school curriculum within the guidelines of the national curriculum.
GREATER COMPETITION AND PARENTAL CHOICE OF SCHOOL
Together with the trend of moving the primary responsibility for schools to the local communities, there is the understanding that parents should have the choice of where they place their children, even if their chosen schools fall outside their designated area. The idea is that greater competition between schools would be brought about which would, in turn, bring about higher standards. In some instances the funding system for schools is linked to the number of pupils enrolled. Schools that do not meet the requirements run the risk of losing pupils, resulting in the loss of funds and a decline in staff and facilities.
Because of factors such as an ageing population and the fact that the work force in the present era needs to be continuously retrained to keep in touch with technological innovation, the countries under discussion strive towards the establishment of a culture of lifelong education. The aim is the creation of a community in which anyone can choose to take part in study opportunities at any stage of life, the results of which can be evaluated and accredited. For this purpose, structures and mechanisms are created to promote lifelong learning, while also striving towards making universities and other types of institution more accessible to the whole community.
In the light of increased international interdependence, countries are more aware of their role in, and responsibility towards, an international community. In the curricula of schools, provision is made for, and emphasis placed upon, history and geography as foundation subjects for international understanding, while multiculturalism and the teaching of a modern foreign language have become new priorities.
To what extent does the process of transformation in South African education keep abreast of the aforementioned trends stemming from the international economy, developments in the technological field and the market place? For this purpose the ensuing discussion will pay attention to the latest developments in the system of education and training in South Africa.
Developments in the education system of South Africa since 1 994
VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
Since 1994 the Minister of Education has appointed various commissions of inquiry into related matters; the results have been two White Papers concerning education, as well as a Green Paper on higher education. The documents mentioned were presented to all stakeholders in a transparent manner so as to contribute to the development of an acceptable educational policy and general aims in South Africa. It was followed by various educational acts that would control and guide educational provision in the future. Recently, on 24 March 1997, the Minister of Education announced that educational reform would culminate in the project called Curriculum 2005. Entirely new curricula for schools will be phased in, commencing in Grades 1 and 7 in 1998 and taking six years to be implemented in all other grades.
The ensuing discussion offers information concerning important values and principles at the foundation of the new curricula in schools, as well as the organization, governance and financing of the system.
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO EDUCATION AND TRAINING
According to the White paper on education and training (RSA, 1995a, p. 15-16), an integrated approach to education and training would be one of the vital principles that would lead and direct educational provision in a new educational dispensation.
What this means is that academic education and vocational training should be seen as so closely related that they cannot be separated.
In the past, the so-called general or academic education was seen as the task of formal educational institutions. On the other hand, vocational and skills-oriented training was seen as the task of employers. An integrated approach encompasses the abolition of these restricting boundaries between the tasks of the educational institutions and the employment sectors. A flexible educational system is the aim, bringing education and the employment sectors nearer to each other and aimed at the development of human resources with 'a strong foundation of general education, the desire and ability to continue to learn, to adapt to and develop new knowledge, skills and technologies, to move flexibly between occupations, to take responsibility for personal performance, to set and achieve high standards, and to work cooperatively' (RSA, 1995a, p. 15).
AN OUTCOMES-BASED APPROACH
As in many other countries, traditional education in South Africa was aligned with content. Evaluation and examination were aimed at determining to what extent the learning content had been mastered. This was done in terms of a scoring system of marks and percentages.
In the White paper on education and training (RSA, 1995a, p. 15), the Minister of Education has undertaken to introduce an integrated approach to education and training based on a system of credits for learning outcomes achieved.
In an outcomes-based approach, the desired outcomes are used as a basis for all curriculum processes. The curriculum developer works from these outcomes within a particular context or field of learning to design programmes of learning which will help learners to achieve the desired outcomes.
Two types of outcomes are distinguished, namely essential outcomes and specific outcomes. Essential outcomes focus on the capacity to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes in an integrated way in learning and work situations, as well as in life in general. Examples are problem-solving skills and the ability to communicate effectively. Specific outcomes are demonstrated knowledge, skills and attitudes in a particular field or at a given level.
In an outcomes-based approach, the learner's progress is measured against agreed criteria based on specified credits awarded. All learners who meet the agreed criteria for specified outcomes receive suitable credits. Those who have not yet received credits are given the opportunity to try again to reach the required standard. An important feature of this system is that the learner competes against his/her own previous performance and not against those of other learners. In addition, learning undertaken outside the formal education system may also be recognized (see National Curriculum Development Committee, 1996, p. 9-12).
THE IMPORTANCE OF LIFELONG LEARNING
In a swiftly changing world, the continuous retraining of human resources is of the utmost importance to enable learners to keep up with new knowledge and technologies. The educational policy-makers recognize this important worldwide priority and foresee the development of a system which will enable anyone, at any age, to improve their qualifications and to be accredited for these improvements in a suitable way.
In order to be able to follow an integrated approach to education and training, the essential contributions to the development of skills by people outside the formal pro- visioning system must be recognized as an integral part of educational provision. Co-operation with other sectors is thus important. For this purpose, the Ministries of Education and Labour have created an inter-ministerial work group on which there are, among others, representatives of the Departments of Education and Manpower, the National Training Board, as well as from organized business and labour. The perception is that all concerned will assist in establishing national standards in the various fields of expertise in education and training. This includes governmental departments, the organized teaching profession, delegates of representative bodies of universities, technikons and colleges as major stakeholders, other Ministries with responsibilities regarding skills training, such as those of Health, Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry, local governments, as well as public and private sector education and training (see RSA, 1995a, p. 16).
TRANSFORMING THE LEGACY OF THE PAST
The task that is of paramount importance in South Africa is the development of a just and equitable system that provides good quality education and training to learners—young and old—throughout the country. This means, among other things, that the gross inequalities in past educational attainment, skills, employment opportunity, productivity and income and the separate education and training systems will be redressed. A transformative, democratic mission and ethos will be the goal for the provision of education in the future. The principles of the new education and training policies—policies to redress the legacies of underdevelopment and inequitable development, and to grant learning opportunities to everyone—will be based on the Constitution of the country, in which equal educational opportunities for all and non-discrimination are guaranteed.
OTHER IMPORTANT ASPECTS
The Ministry of Education identifies, among other things, the following values and principles driving national policy for the reconstruction and development of education and training:
A NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK
One of the most important developments in the new education dispensation of South Africa, with the specific aim of bringing about the aforementioned principles, is the provision and accreditation of qualifications in agreement with a National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
The National Qualifications Framework is a framework for the provision of lifelong learning opportunities, in accordance with nationally agreed qualification levels. It therefore consists of a classification of qualifications which may be obtained in this country, either formally, non-formally or informally.
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), which was established by Act 58 of 1995 to develop and maintain the framework (see RSA, 1995b), decided upon the following format for the NQF:
SUMMARY: COMPARISON OF INTERNAL AND GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
From the foregoing discussion it is evident that, in the transformation of education, apart from restructuring the system according to the principles of equity, South Africa is taking global trends into account in determining policy directions and aims of education. Among others, the following emphases from the global community come to the fore in the latest developments:
Preparing South African teachers for the democratic era
The global forces, developments in the global educational context, as well as the internal demands emanating from the transformation of education have far-reaching implications for teacher education programmes in South Africa. From the research, it is evident that the following matters should be taken into consideration in preparing teachers for the future.
A DYNAMIC TEACHER CORPS
A new awareness of the importance of high-quality educational provision in the creation of a dynamic and competitive work force, as well as a competitive economy, necessitates specific requirements as far as teacher education programmes are concerned. More and better education also requires more and better teacher education and training. It also requires relevantly trained teachers. It demands working conditions and remuneration which will draw the really good and functionally qualified person to the teaching profession. Stated more succinctly, high standards which form the heart of educational reform at present and which would deliver a dynamic corps of workers, are dependent on a dynamic corps of teachers.
Teachers with high standards
High standards in educational provision are not only dependent on committed communities, committed parents and committed learners, but also on committed teachers. The development of a committed teaching corps requires, in addition to good training, a certain work ethic which is associated with aspects such as remuneration, conditions of service and the atmosphere and culture of teaching and learning existing in a community.
Teachers and the economy
The involvement of business and industry with education has become an important priority in education systems. In teacher education, it is essential that teachers are informed regarding the roles of business and industry in the provision of education, the advantages of mutual involvement, kinds of relationships and opportunities for secondment.
Skills needed by employers must be included in the training of the modern teacher. These skills would include competence in communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to work in a team, problem-solving skills, creativity, adaptability and independent thinking. If teachers are to help learners to develop these skills, they need to acquire the skills themselves.
Teachers' foundations in the basic skills
The attainment of higher abilities in the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic by students requires that high-achievers in these domains be attracted to the teaching profession. Teachers are unable to lay solid foundations if they do not have a sound base in the context of the subject that they teach.
Teachers' knowledge of national standards
Teachers cannot inculcate standards of excellence if they have not been adequately trained and informed regarding the appropriate curriculum, national standards and the requirements for evaluation.
Teachers with a strong science and technology orientation
It is evident, from the reforms taking place in the education systems of various countries, that there is an increasing emphasis on science and technology. Traditionally, persons with good qualifications in these domains have been recruited by the private sectors as a result of better remuneration packages. If education systems wish to emphasize science and technology, there will have to be far greater consideration of conditions of service and suitable remuneration for persons with expertise in these fields.
As computers already play an integral part in daily education in many countries, teachers will have to be increasingly trained regarding technological education and technology in education, such as computer-aided instruction.
Teachers' views and attitudes
A move away from an academic and content-based education towards a more vocationally and skills-orientated education requires a fundamental change in the convictions of teachers. The shift in South African education towards an outcomes-based approach represents such a change. Therefore, teachers will intentionally have to be educated for a more skills-directed type of education.
Teachers with a management orientation
One of the requirements of the contemporary era is that schools and education systems should reflect the management changes occurring in the modern work place. Participatory forms of management are now becoming the norm. In combination with this, the devolution of the basic authority and responsibility for high standards to local levels add to the burden placed on the teacher, regarding school finances for example. This means that teachers should be equipped for their role in management. There should be no doubt that aspects of management, such as classroom and financial management, leadership, communication and interpersonal relationships, should receive appropriate attention.
Teachers as self managers
Higher demands regarding standards, increasing responsibilities following the devolution of authority and participatory forms of management require high inputs from the modern teacher. Teachers are increasingly faced with stress and burnout. Training in the principles of self management is essential in the education of teachers.
Teachers as public relations officers
Education is becoming more and more of a total community matter with a variety of stakeholders such as parents and employers involved. Teacher involvement outside the sphere of colleagues and learners is ever-increasing as contact with people outside the inner circle of the school domain expands. The handling of such contacts needs definite skills, and training in these skills should be included in teacher education.
Teachers as lifelong learners
In the present context of expanding fields of knowledge, technological inventions and a fast-changing world of work, teachers cannot rely on their initial academic and professional knowledge to sustain a comprehensive career. They must stay in touch with new and additional knowledge within their fields of expertise and with new technologies; more specifically, they should be in touch with developments which will make their teaching more effective, as well as with changes in the economic and labour sectors. This implies that teachers should master the skills of learning-to-learn. The principles of independent learning are therefore essential.
Teachers with a strong international orientation
Due to increasing international interdependence and the distinct responsibility of education towards these circumstances, education systems need teachers with a strong sense and understanding of the following:
As indicated initially, educational institutions are presently busy with a change of mindset regarding all facets of teacher education in South Africa. Full implementation of the transformation of programmes, aims, control and management is, to a certain extent, still dependent on the Ministry of Education's Green Paper on Higher Education, which has been presented to all interested parties for consideration. The Green Paper indicates preliminary policy directions regarding the broad terrain of higher education. Before policy guidelines are finalized and implemented, it is difficult to deduce how programmes for South African teacher education will be able to prepare the teacher corps for education within the global context.
Because of South Africa's isolation over the past few decades, teacher education for the global context is a more complex task than it is in leading industrialized countries. South Africa has, as indicated, a two-fold responsibility for establishing a just and equitable system whilst, at the same time, keeping abreast of world trends.
In the foregoing discussion, the focus has been on the global context and the major forces influencing educational provision in a number of countries. A whole series of distinctive characteristics has been identified and compared with the latest developments in the South African education setting. Both the global and internal developments have incisive implications for the education of teachers in South Africa. The implications as set out in this paper are interpretations of the findings of research done in various countries. Although these findings are as yet rather obscure, they might provide a point of departure for further research, discussion and development of programmes for teacher education.
The role of the teacher, as seen from a global framework and set out in the discussion, necessitates re-thinking and evaluation. A challenge lies ahead for future teachers, but equally so for policy makers and teacher educators.
1. Various interviews were conducted with representatives of Ministries of Education, education departments, universities and other teacher training institutions, research councils, business and industry and schools in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Committee for Development Work on the NQF. 1996. Discussion document: lifelong learning through a national qualifications framework. Pretoria, Department of Education.
Guthrie, J.W.; Pierce, L.C. 1990. The international economy and national education reform: a comparison of education reforms in the United States and Britain. Oxford review of education (Oxford), vol. 16, p. 179-205.
Holdaway, E.A. 1991. Recent developments in education in Britain: issues and implications. International journal of educational management (Bradford, U.K.), vol. 5, no. 1, p. 13-22.
National Curriculum Development Committee. 1996. National qualifications framework: working document. Pretoria, Department of Education.
National Institute for Educational Research (NIER). 1991. Towards formulating goals, aims and objectives of secondary education for the twenty-first century. Tokyo, NIER.
Republic of South Africa (RSA). 1995a. White paper on education and training. Government gazette (Cape Town), vol. 357, no. 16,312, notice no. 196 of 1995. Parliament of the Republic of South Africa (Department of Education).
Republic of South Africa (RSA). 1995b. South African Qualifications Authority Act, no. 58 of 1995. Government gazette (Cape Town), vol. 364, no. 16,725. Office of the President (no. 1,521).
United States Department of Education. 1994. National assessment of vocational education: Interim report to Congress. Washington DC, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
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