|Roles and Responsibilities, Institutional Landscapes and Curriculum Mindscapes: A Partial View of Teacher Education Policy in South Africa, 1990 - 2000 (CIE, 2002, 40 p.)|
It is too early to be talking about conclusions and I can do no more than indicate some possibilities for further research and analysis. This has been a largely descriptive narrative of a particular view of the policy process in South African teacher education in the 1990s. The relationship between this policy process and what was happening with providers, their programmes and their students have not been explored. Many of the MUSTER case studies will cast more light on this relationship. Nor has this paper analysed this policy in, for example, discursive terms. Fortunately, the ideological, political and other uses to which teacher education policy has been put have been explored with insight elsewhere.
The 1990s changed South African teacher education irrevocably. But the institutional landscape and curriculum policy that has emerged has no single obvious source. The powerful influence of the labour movement has had a dominating symbolic and regulative influence within teacher education influencing the way in which the DoE has approached teacher education, training and development. Within the broad human resources development field, SETAs, with their assured funding from the Skills Levy Act and the combined power of unions and employers, will impact strongly on skills development for those in employment - including teachers. The influence of policy has been undermined in the case of schooling and teacher education by overwhelming financial constraints and a lack of well educated and trained personnel. The large expenditure on educator personnel (more than 40 Billion Rand in 2000) has put immense pressure on the state to cut down on personnel expenditure and to improve access to basic resources such as a decent building, water, toilets, electricity, telephones, textbooks, etc. Under these circumstances the vision of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, with its expansive lifelong learning system and an integrated system of education and training, has been displaced by a pragmatic approach that manifests itself primarily in labour relations regulations and fiscal austerity.
In those areas where the DoE, as employer, and the unions, as employees, have both responsibility and the will to work together, they have been able to make good progress on issues like work-loads, career pathing, the norms, standards and criteria, conduct and capacity. The DoE and the unions are able to cooperate on these "professional development" issues while engaging in fierce contestation over remuneration and rationalisation.
Looking back over the last half of the decade, one can see two distinct forms of co-operative governance operating in teacher education: a "bilateral" form in employer-employee relations, and a "multilateral" form in regard to system governance. In the areas of academic policy, qualification registration, provider and programme accreditation, different bodies with overlapping responsibilities have to create a consistent coherent system. Most of these bodies are comprise representatives from at least six distinct interest groups. It is those domains where there is "multilateral governance" that are most vulnerable to "immobilisation" as conflict between different interests hinders agreement and decision-making.
The expenditure of public funds is a government responsibility in which decisions around teacher education funding are taken at a number of levels including the Departments of Finance and the National Treasury. To further complicate matters, the DoE is faced with situations where it can only make rational decisions in regard to funding once other role players have fulfilled their responsibilities.
For example, in higher education, funding must be programme-based. The DoE, however, can only design and manage a programme-based funding formula if SAQA is registering qualifications and the HEQC, in co-operation with other relevant ETQAs (including SETAs and professional bodies such as SACE), is accrediting providers and their programmes.
In addition, public expenditure on the education budget has to be strategically aligned with other sources of public funding, especially the funding flowing through the SETAs. Public funding as a whole should, optimally, be aligned with private sector provision. It is only if these three broad sectors are aligned that one can talk about a single coherent higher education system. There is some irony in noting that, procedurally, the DoE is responsible for funding "programmes" and yet control over programmes has been vested in other bodies. It is a classic case of responsibility without authority, which impedes effective management. It is only within the area of teacher education funding, programmes and qualifications that legislation enables the Minister and DoE to directly influence design and implementation. But these are symbolic and regulatory instruments. The procedural implementation and development of teacher education will lie primarily in the hands of the providers responsible for delivering teacher education. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, that a strong partnership develop between the DoE, public and private providers, unions and other role players.