|Further Diploma in Education (Educational Management) by Distance Education at the University of Pretoria, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 55 p.)|
In concluding the report six key themes are explored, reflecting on the difficulties of translating teacher education policy into practice.
First, the development of the teacher education policy framework has centred on establishing a regulatory governance framework. As such, much energy and effort has been expended on developing the relevant and appropriate statutory structures and committees such as the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Council for Higher Education (CHE). This is an important first step in creating a regulatory framework within which priorities can be determined and quality assurance achieved. Part of this process, as Parker (2002) notes, involved consideration about the role and locations of the colleges of education.
The status of the colleges of education has had a chequered policy history since most reports, as Parker notes, avoided making clear and decisive choices, with the main decision only being made by policy default in 1999/2000. What has emerged from this process is the effective phasing out of colleges of education due to their incorporation into the university sector and, consequently, universities becoming the main providers of both initial primary and secondary teacher education. As noted above, this reflects a direct reversal of about 90 years of apartheid teacher education policy. This shift has been motivated not only on grounds of comparative cost between universities and colleges of education, but also signals a belief that what is required in teacher education in South Africa is a strong focus on subject/learning area content knowledge and a research culture which universities rather than colleges are seen to provide. It can also be construed as an attempt to inject into the university sector a longer-term commitment to teacher provision, rather than the conventional one-year diploma. Samuel's analysis of UDW (Samuel and Pillay 2002) reflects on the process of a higher education institution responding to this policy shift by developing its BAGET (Bachelor of General Education and Training) course, which is a four-year integrated teacher education programme.
Second, the focus on a regulatory governance framework has not directly considered what the key priorities and needs are. These are now beginning to emerge, but reactions to the FDEM programme at UP can only be considered in relation to needs. As such, institutional responses have predated and been quicker to pick up on key issues than emerging policy, which has been reactive and in a default mode.
Third, the curriculum of teacher education has received very limited attention in the post-apartheid educational policy framework. The discussion has been largely at the macro level, focusing on issues such as expectations of an ideal educator or the types of programmes that should be recognised. Where curriculum issues have been addressed, these have been in response to the curriculum changes in schooling. As such, the specific content and pedagogies of initial and continuing teacher education have not been sufficiently discussed and problematised (see Stuart & Tatto, 2000).
Fourth, the key critique of the emerging policy framework has centred on the extent to which it provides a viable and sound change management strategy. Using Johnson and Scholes' (1993) notion of strategic management, it can be argued that the policy framework in South Africa has privileged strategic analysis and, more recently, strategy choice, and consequently not foregrounded questions of strategy implementation. At the same time, what is absent in debates about the emerging teacher education policy framework is a robust critique of the underlying conceptual and philosophical frameworks. The relevance of a constructivist and outcomes-based epistemology needs, as Christie and Jansen (1999) note, to be subject to rigorous scrutiny.
Fifth, the analysis of the FDEM programme raises questions about the process of quality assurance and accreditation in South African higher education. The recognition of the FDEM programme preceded the establishment of quality assurance and accreditation structures and processes. Yet there is an important question about the extent to which structures such as SAQA and HEQC (Higher Education Quality Committee) are able to accredit effectively all programmes, given their capacity and other constraints. A moratorium in enrolment on all distance education programmes, such as the FDEM, provides a short-term response to a longer-term dilemma about whether the established quality assurance statutory structures are able effectively, efficiently, and speedily, to determine the quality of programmes.
Finally, the analysis suggests that another key policy concern is the growth of the private education sector. Emerging analyses (Sayed and Jansen, 2001) note that this sector is rapidly growing in South Africa and that there is a need for additional research. The growth of this sector raises important questions about the system of governance and quality assurance in higher education more generally. As indicated earlier, the increased enrolment in teacher education programmes in South Africa has largely been in programmes offered by public universities in partnership with private sector education companies. Approximately 37% of teacher education students at the beginning of 2000 were enrolled in programmes offered in public-private distance education partnerships, with about 100 private providers involved in teacher education (Parker, 2002). These include UP with NPC, University of Port Elizabeth with Azaliah and University of Natal at Durban with the South African College of Teacher Education. An issue highlighted in this paper is the extent to which this growth reflects national priorities and needs in teacher education. While there are serious questions about whether, for example, South Africa needs about 25,000 managers, there is no clear policy framework which indicates what the needs actually are. This is a crucial policy planning issue, partly addressed by the publication of the new higher education plan, though that plan still tends to ignore the specificity of teacher education.
More importantly, the increased enrolment in distance education programmes in public-private partnerships raises doubts about quality. There is a pressing need for more rigorous efforts at monitoring the quality of such programmes. This is tied to the rolling out of the new quality framework, for which the HEQC of the CHE is responsible. The paper highlights the need for a systematic and clear governance framework for regulating the operation of private education providers. In the interregnum following the elections of 1994, it is clear that many private sector education providers have emerged, capitalising on the policy gap in legislation.
This report has provided an analysis of teacher education provision in post-apartheid South Africa with a specific focus on the FDEM, which is a partnership programme between a public provider and a private education concern. It is evident that both parties have benefited from such an arrangement, though the moratorium on enrolment raises doubt about the future of the programme. In charting the response of the UP to the changing teacher education policy framework, this paper has highlighted how institutions have strategically responded to change in a context of transition. It has also drawn attention to the disjuncture between policy intention and outcome. Part of the reason for this, the paper suggests, is the focus on governance and regulation issues, which has not sufficiently considered how policies should be implemented and steered at the provider level. (Sayed & Jansen, 2001).