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close this bookRoles and Responsibilities, Institutional Landscapes and Curriculum Mindscapes: A Partial View of Teacher Education Policy in South Africa, 1990 - 2000 (CIE, 2002, 40 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMulti-Site Teacher Education Research Project (MUSTER)
View the documentList of Acronyms
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. A broad contextual framework
View the document3. Origins of the landscape
View the document4. An overview of curriculum changes
View the document5. Curriculum mindscapes
View the document6. The Norms and Standards for Educators
View the document7. Colleges of Education
View the document8. Towards a new teacher education system
View the document9. Some tentative conclusions
View the document10. Questions for the future
View the documentReferences
View the documentAppendix

6. The Norms and Standards for Educators

The development of new curricula for teacher education in the latter part of the decade took place within the overarching context described above. In September 1997, the Department of Education appointed a Technical Committee that was commissioned to examine and revise the 1995 Norms and Standards for Teacher Education within the parameters set by SAQA, the NQF, Curriculum 2005 and the regulations regarding the employment of educators. This process was overseen and managed by a sub-committee of COTEP, and entailed the following main steps:

· Review of relevant literature;
· Development of a generative model for norms and standards for teacher education;
· Development of an implementation framework; and
· Consultations with stakeholders throughout the process.

The Technical Committee engaged in a variety of activities over a period of nine months culminating in the publication of a Discussion Document: Technical Committee on the Revision of the Norms and Standards for Educators for Teacher Education, November 1997. Besides literature and policy review, the committee consulted intensively with a range of stakeholders and drew heavily on the work of other people, including the final draft report of the Education, Training and Development Practices Project, Adult Basic Education and Training Standards Senerating Task team, and the Early Childhood Development Interim Accreditation Committee. The report was circulated broadly as a discussion document and all interested persons and bodies were invited to comment on it.

The Department of Education also conducted provincial consultative workshops in 1998 in each of the provinces with the aim of engaging with teacher educators and other interest groups, including the teachers' unions.

The Norms and Standards for Educators (NSE) uses an outcomes-based approach to teacher education and provides detailed descriptions of what a competent educator can demonstrate. The emphasis of the policy is on performance in the schools, classrooms, management and support services of the schooling system. The new policy is intended to contribute significantly to the implementation of Curriculum 2005 by training educators who have the knowledge, skills and values to make learning in schools more relevant to the economic and social needs of South Africa.

The policy defines seven roles that an educator must be able to perform, and describes in detail the knowledge, skills and values that are necessary to perform the roles successfully. The seven roles are: Learning mediator; Interpreter and designer of learning programmes; Leader, administrator and manager; Scholar, researcher and lifelong learner; Assessor; a community, citizenship and pastoral role; and, a learning area/subject/discipline/phase specialist role.

Together these roles are seen as constituting a picture of the knowledge, skills and values that are the hallmark of a competent and professional educator. The roles are linked strongly to developmental appraisal, to career pathing and grading and to performance management. There are also strong commitments to ethics and values education, to environmental education, inclusive education and HIV/Aids education.

The Norms and Standards for Educators are seen by the DoE as a flexible instrument that provides a basis for the generation of qualifications and learning programmes. The February 2000 gazette has already been supplemented by Criteria for the Recognition and Evaluation of Qualifications for Employment in Education (CREQ) published in September 2000. These policies will be revised in the light of new academic policy for Higher Education, once this has been developed by the DoE, CHE and SAQA through a joint implementation plan on which work began in the latter half of 2000.

The NSE are an attempt to navigate a middle path between the constructivist ideology of SAQA and the more nuanced non-constructivist approach on universities. The NSE do not provide specific criteria but rather a general picture on the basis of which universities and other higher education providers can design their own programmes and qualifications. Hence, the NSE and Criteria do not provide actual qualifications. These are being developed both by the SGB for Educators and by public and private providers who then submit their own designs to the registration, accreditation and approval processes described above.

Examples of this flexible generative approach can be seen in the work of the SGB for educators in schooling which produced draft national qualifications for a four year initial Bachelor of Education in 2000, and in the development and approval of a new National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) to be used to up-grade and re-train the 80,000 teachers who do not meet the grade of being professionally qualified (a minimum of three years full-time equivalent training).

One crucial feature of the NSE is their strong emphasis on the importance of the subject or content knowledge of the teacher. Research has shown this to be a major weakness of South African teachers. Nick Taylor and Penny Vinjevold (1999) show this clearly in "Getting Learning Right", the synthesis research report that brings together research carried out under the President's Education Initiative (PEI). This research shows that many teachers lack the basic disciplinary subject content knowledge that forms the foundation of the school curriculum. For example, many teachers are fairly skilled in conducting group work, managing a class and in basic assessment and record keeping and yet lack the basic content knowledge required by the learners. The NSE directly addresses these weaknesses by linking strongly the development of subject knowledge competencies to inculcation into higher education disciplines.

The NSE lays great emphasis on the importance of the over-arching purpose of a whole qualification - a purpose which could not be met by a combination of unit standards. Hence, while adopting the language and concepts of SAQA, the NSE uses the SAQA distinction between reflexive, practical and foundational competencies to place a strong emphasis on the importance of foundational knowledge and the whole purpose of the qualification.

The PEI research is taken further in the Curriculum 2005 Review Report commissioned by the Minister to examine the implementation of Curriculum 2005 and to recommend improvements. The report was presented in mid-2000 and indicates serious shortcomings in the preparation of teachers for the implementation of the new curriculum.

When introducing Curriculum 2005, the DoE and the provincial departments undertook various orientation programmes and In-Service Education and Training (INSET) workshops, often with foreign funding and using NGOs to provide assistance. It may seem naive to undertake a massive curriculum change at such speed and with so little attention to preparation of the teachers who would be responsible for its manifestation in the classroom. One reason for this was the lack of focus on the teacher that pervaded South African education policy in the early and middle 1990s.

South Africa's outcomes-based NQF has been projected as strongly learner-centred. Learners construct their own knowledge, skills and values and the role of the teacher is diminished to being a facilitator to the learners' self-driven search. Not only is there a strong emphasis on performance (on what the learner can demonstrate), but the origin of these performances lies in the learner and in their socially constructed knowledge of the world. The teacher is merely a facilitator who helps create an environment for the learners to build their knowledge. This aspect of education policy has been well covered in Muller (2000) and Christie and Jansen (1999). This ambivalence toward teachers was expressed through changes in terminology. Teachers were no longer teachers but educators and pupils or students were now learners. There was strong pressure to see Adult Educators, Early Childhood Educators, Workplace Trainers, Community Developers, et al, being included along with teachers as a fairly homogenous group of "ETD Practitioners."

These changes signify a key shift in the concept of an educator. In 1994, teacher education was directed at the schooling system, with little funding going to ABET or ECD. There was even less funding for development of trainers in occupationally oriented skills. The overall thrust of policy in the mid-1990s was toward an all-inclusive concept of an educator/trainer/developer. To talk of teachers was regarded as exclusionist and was seen as an attempt to privilege the schooling sector, universities and technikons (education) over training. Despite this policy orientation, teachers have remained at the centre of DoE policy, albeit primarily in the realm of labour legislation where there are only two categories of stakeholder: employer and employee.

By 1999, the curriculum of teacher education was no longer the responsibility of a small group of college and university teacher educators but a field of contestation between very distinct interest groups: unions, NGOs, governmental bodies such as the Departments of Labour and Education, SAQA and the CHE. For the DoE, there was a distinct tension between its responsibilities as an employer (the development of an employer-employee regulatory framework) and its position as a role-player in the development of an outcomes-based NQF. Increasingly, as the decade draw to a close, the DoE used the simpler and more efficient labour relations mechanisms to implement crucial changes in what it means to be educator.

The NSE and CREQ are promulgated as "employer and funding requirements". They represent the position of the employer in regard to requirements for the education, training and development of educators. Although focused on teachers in the schooling system in the GET and FET bands, and permeated by a strong labour relations perspective, the NSE were developed in consultation with other SGBs and can easily be amended to include requirements for ECD, ABET and HET practitioners. The NSE are also aligned with the work of the Occupationally Directed SGB and the unit standards developed for work-based practitioners. The common element is the use of "roles and applied competence". This will enable portability and mobility between various kinds of educators and provide a holistic coherence to the basic or core curriculum for all the various aspects of human resource development for educators.

The strong connections of the NSE to other aspects of human resource development such as career pathing and grading illustrates the way in which the NSE are grounded in labour law regulations. The DoE, through the nine provincial governments, is the employer of nearly 400,000 teachers. The DoE, in co-operation with the unions in the national bargaining chambers such as the Education Labour Relations Council and the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, has created a systemic approach to human resource development that defines roles and responsibilities, workloads, grading and career pathing, conduct and misconduct, capacity and incapacity. In the role of employer, the DoE has been able to exert a strong influence on what it means to be an educator within the public education system and put in place the symbolic and regulatory elements of a policy aimed at creating an "ideal educator."

The failure of the overall governance system to produce meaningful change over the last five years has lead the DoE to work in the "bi-polar forums" (employer-employee) of the ELRC and PSCBC to attain the kinds of regulations and procedures that will give definition to "being an educator" and create the kinds of professional development and disciplinary procedures needed to steer transformation.

There are many different forms and kinds of teacher education, development and support programmes being provided in South Africa. The legislation enacted in 2000 will bring, for the first time in South Africa, a coherence to a wide variety of efforts to improve teaching. The NSE provides benchmarks against which the quality of teacher education programmes can be measured. In future, only those programmes that meet these benchmarks will be recognised by the Department of Education for purposes of employment and for funding. The NSE provides guidelines for providers to develop teacher education programmes leading towards SAQA registered and accredited qualifications. The CREQ provides the detailed substance of what the DoE, as employer, will recognise for employment in education and by which qualifications are evaluated for grading purposes.

The NSE and CREQ form only a part of the legislative and regulative framework that is shaping the curriculum of teacher education. Other regulations cover job descriptions, workloads, misconduct and incapacity, et al., for the first time giving the employer the legal means to demand accountability, competence and performance from its employees. Prior to 1998, the DoE as employer could only take action with great difficulty against a teacher who, for example, arrived late and left early, given that there was no job description or workload against which they could be held accountable.

The DoE and the unions, in partnership, have taken a dual approach to the regulation and development of school teachers. The first has been through conditions of service regulations around "dismissal" for misconduct or incapacity. The second has been through the promotion of professional development including a developmental appraisal system and an emphasis on professionalisation. A key example of this was the establishment of the South African Council of Educators in 1996 and the promulgation of the SACE Act of 2000. SACE has three key functions: registration, discipline and development. All teachers must be registered with SACE in order to be employable in a public school. The disciplinary function depends on a code of conduct and the penalties that can be imposed by SACE for misconduct. If SACE de-registers a teacher for violating the code, that teacher may no longer be employed in public education. A third dimension of SACE activities is professional development and specifically the ethical dimensions of professional development.

The dangers of such an open and complex system for the development and implementation of a "national" teacher education curriculum with its panoply of governance bodies and stakeholders ensures that regulation will be slow, ambiguous and administered by a confusing variety of "regulators". Within this context the employer powers of the DoE and its control of public funding become critical to its ability to steer and regulate the public and private providers of teacher education.

I have only described the key pieces of educational legislation that impact on teacher education, but there is other legislation that impacts on teachers, for example the Bill of Rights, the Child Care Act of 1983, the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993. This panoply of legislation impacts in one way or another on the institutional landscape and developing curriculum of teacher education. Given the legislation described above, the broad curriculum of teacher education is clearly mapped out - but not in a prescriptive manner. There is a strong emphasis on research and curriculum development and providers are expected to engage actively with the working contexts of their learners.

On the basis of their research, providers design and develop their own learning programmes/curricula in consultation with the DoE and other role-players and are then channelled through the procedures of registration of qualifications, accreditation of providers and programmes, approval for public funding, and recognition for employment.