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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

4. An overview of curriculum changes

During the 1990s, teacher education curricula in South Africa underwent equally dramatic transformation. Apartheid education had created a proliferation of curricula in the colleges and in the universities and technikons. After the 1994 elections, college curricula fell under the jurisdiction of the nine provinces. In order to exercise influence over university, technikon and provincial qualifications the DoE exercised its rights as an employer flowing from The Educator's Employment Act of 1994, The National Education Policy Act of 1995 and the Labour Relations Act of 1995. These laws laid the basis for consultation and negotiation between the employer (DoE) and the employees (represented by unions) over conditions of service (including career-pathing, workloads, job responsibilities, remuneration and other aspects of the employer-employee relationship).

The 1995 National Education Policy Act (Act No 27 of 1996), sub-sections (4) (f), (l), states that-

The Minister shall determine national policy for:

(1) The professional education and accreditation of educators;

(2) Curriculum framework, core syllabuses and education programmes, learning standards, examinations and the certification of qualifications, subject to the provisions of any law establishing a national qualifications framework or a certifying or accrediting body.

These powers, together with the authority of the Minister to determine "requirements for employment" make teacher education a direct responsibility of the Minister in a rare area where he actually has the authority to act decisively, although this authority is weakened by the conditional clause in (2) above. This is a good example of overlapping roles and responsibilities. With whom does responsibility for national policy on teacher education programmes and qualifications rest? With the Minister or with SAQA? Which legislation has priority: the National Education Policy Act or the SAQA Act?

In the period from 1995 to 2000, teacher education qualifications were subject to the Norms and Standards for Teacher Education which were declared national policy by the Minister of Education, Prof S M E Bengu, on 8 September 1995. The Committee for Teacher Education Policy (COTEP), a sub-committee of HEDCOM, had to develop norms and standards for teacher education, to accredit teacher education programmes and qualifications, and to advise HEDCOM and the Minister on matters pertaining to teacher education. Membership of COTEP included, inter alia, representatives of all nine provincial education departments, national teacher unions, student unions, directorates of the national Department of Education, South African Council for Educators, Colleges of Education, Universities and Technikons.

All public teacher education institutions were requested to revise their existing teacher education programmes and to submit them to COTEP and HEDCOM for approval. New programmes had also to be submitted in accordance with the 1995 Norms and Standards for Teacher Education. It is important to note that these regulations applied only to public providers. The 1995 Norms and Standards for Teacher Education set in place a national core curriculum and a process for accrediting qualifications based on criteria for the recognition and evaluation of qualifications that supplemented the norms and standards (the "green book").

In February 2000, the Minister gazetted new Norms and Standards for Educators (NSE) and these were supplemented in September 2000 by Criteria for the Recognition and Evaluation of Qualifications for Employment in Education (CREQ). These two gazettes indicate to all providers (public and private) the kinds of qualifications (and the learning programmes leading to them) that the DoE will consider for employment, and to the public providers, the kinds of programmes and qualifications the DoE will consider for subsidy funding.

The norms, standards and criteria provide a "generic" picture of a teacher and their required competences together with guidelines for the development of learning programmes aligned with the new outcomes-based National Qualification Framework.

De Clercq (1997: 128) uses three concepts to provide a useful analysis of South African education policy: symbolic, regulative and procedural discourses. The Norms and Standards for Educators have a largely symbolic function presenting a holistic picture of an ideal teacher toward which curricula should aim. The regulative functions of teacher education policy are carried by the CREQ and labour law and regulations. The procedural functions showing who is responsible for what and how these responsibilities should be carried out are indicated explicitly in key Acts: The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act of 1995, the National Education Policy Act of 1996, the Higher Education Act of 1997, The Skills Development Act of 1998.

The broad argument in this paper is that the state has carried out the first two policy functions competently in regard to teacher education, but that there has been a breakdown in the procedural function. There is an underlying assumption common to all these Acts about the nature of democratic governance. In the afterglow of the constitutional negotiations, there was a strong belief in the efficacy of stakeholder democracy and the ability of stakeholders with different interests to reach consensus and make decisions in "the best interests of all."

The overarching legislation referred to above splits responsibilities for the "governance" of parts of the higher education system. A public teacher education provider has to be "accredited" with the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). This may also involve accreditation with other Education and Training Quality Assurance bodies (ETQAs). The providers' qualifications must be registered with SAQA through the SGBs and NSBs. The learning programmes leading to these qualifications have to be accredited by the HEQC (or other ETQAs) and "approved" by the DoE for funding purposes and for employment purposes.

These bodies are key decision-making points in the procedural systems of academic policy, qualification registration, quality assurance and funding. They directly impact on education and training providers and their programmes. Unfortunately, in their early existence, the contestation between these bodies and between different stakeholder interests within these bodies has weakened their ability to make decisions and carry through their consequences.