An exploration of how discourses of efficiency and social justice shaped the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector with special reference to TVET colleges

Daniels, Leslie (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : This study explores the influences of market-directed educational policies, underpinned by neoliberalism, to shape technical and vocational education and training practices at Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges post-1994. Given the financial constraints of the general South African budget, the government at the time believed that such an approach was appropriate because it was conducive to promoting efficiency and accountability in education. This approach, they thought, would ensure that the delivery of the desired educational outcomes, such as higher pass and throughput rates of college graduates with work-related skills, would be achieved. Prevailing educational discourses, as articulated in sources such as academic literature, public documents and the news media, not only question the appropriateness of marketoriented policies in education that target efficiency practices, but also question the lack of practices promoting social justice at TVET colleges. Therefore, this study questions whether the pursuit of efficiency targets at TVET colleges actually promoted the sustainability of social justice practices at these institutions. This study also examines whether it is feasible to hold both a market-oriented approach as well as a social justice approach simultaneously, by examining this tension, conceptually and in actual practice, by means of the wider philosophical framework of pragmatism. A conceptual investigation was chosen as the methodology to steer this study to its conclusion. On the one hand, the post-apartheid government has the responsibility of promoting policies aimed at removing the inherited barriers arising from unequal power relations that prevented equity, access and participation. On the other hand, in a globalised economy, the government has to ensure efficient use of limited resources and to ensure an educated workforce that can compete in the knowledge economy. In the post-apartheid era, tensions have emerged between issues of equity and efficiency. In effect, the government faces a policy dilemma, namely, that an increase in efficiency will more than likely compromise issues of equity and vice versa. The two objectives appear to be at odds with one another, but this thesis concludes that there is not necessarily mutual exclusion at the conceptual level. This study also emphasises that it is not impossible to maintain a delecate balance between the two. However, it needs to be borne in mind that policies aimed at social justice (such as increased access and redress) affect the actual quality of delivery and the need for increased resources. Despite the tension in real terms – interpreted in the light of a Deweyan pragmatist framework where what works is ‘right’ – the two discourses and resultant policies and practices can, to an extent, be practically reconciled. TVET colleges have included a substantially increased number of previously disadvantaged students who now have access to a college education, one that shows improved pass rates, reported improvements from Umalusi in quality assurance, rising qualification levels of staff, and a reported improvement in the availability of educational resources at TVET colleges. Nevertheless, in response to the question of whether market-oriented policies were actually successful in delivering the desired goals that were set for TVET, a definite no can be justified. Despite the tensions and potentially contradictory discourses, it is possible for TVET colleges to negotiate the precarious path between the two competing goals. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to recognise the tensions in order to prevent conceptual confusion and actual unwanted outcomes. However, further empirical studies need to be conducted to examine how, in actual, pragmatic terms, this complex balance plays itself out in multiple practices with varying consequences.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie studie stel ondersoek in na die invloede van markgerigte onderwysbeleide, onderstut deur neoliberalisme, in die ontwikkeling van tegniese en beroepsgerigte onderwys- en opleidingspraktyke by tegniese en beroepsgerigte onderwys- en opleidings- (TBOO-)kolleges ná 1994. Op grond van die finansiële beperkings van die algemene Suid-Afrikaanse begroting het die destydse regering geglo dat so ʼn benadering geskik sou wees omdat dit sou bydra tot die bevordering van doeltreffendheid en toerekenbaarheid in die onderwys. Hierdie benadering, het hulle gereken, sou sorg dat die gewenste onderwysuitkomste, soos hoër slaag- en deurvloeisyfers van kollege-graduandi met werkverwante vaardighede, behaal word. Heersende onderwysdiskoerse, soos verwoord in bronne soos akademiese literatuur, openbare dokumente en die nuusmedia, bevraagteken nie net die geskiktheid van markgerigte onderwysbeleide wat op doeltreffendheidspraktyke afgestem is nie, maar ook die gebrek aan praktyke wat sosiale geregtigheid by TBOO-kolleges bevorder. Daarom ondersoek hierdie studie of die strewe na doeltreffendheidsteikens by TBOO-kolleges in die praktyk die volhoubaarheid van sosialegeregtigheidspraktyke by hierdie instellings bevorder. Die studie ondersoek ook of dit haalbaar is om tegelykertyd ʼn markgerigte benadering en ʼn benadering van sosiale geregtigheid te volg deur hierdie spanning op sowel konseptuele as praktiese vlak binne die groter filosofiese raamwerk van pragmatisme te bestudeer. ’n Konseptuele ontwerp is gekies as die metodologie om hierdie studie te rig. Aan die een kant het die postapartheidsregering die verantwoordelikheid om beleide te bevorder wat gemik is op die verwydering van die oorgeërfde hindernisse wat ontstaan het weens ongelyke magsverhoudinge, wat billikheid, toegang en deelname verhoed het. Aan die ander kant moet die regering, in ʼn geglobaliseerde ekonomie, doeltreffende gebruik van beperkte hulpbronne verseker, sowel as ʼn opgeleide werksmag wat in die kennisekonomie kan meeding. In die postapartheidsera ontstaan daar spanning tussen kwessies van billikheid en doeltreffendheid. Dít bring die regering voor ʼn beleidsdilemma te staan, naamlik dat ʼn toename in doeltreffendheid heel waarskynlik billikheidskwessies in gevaar sal stel, en andersom. Ondanks die oënskynlike teenstrydigheid tussen die twee doelstellings, bevind hierdie studie dat daar nie noodwendig wedersydse uitsluiting op die konseptuele vlak is nie. Die studie beklemtoon ook dat dit nie onmoontlik is om in die praktyk die delikate balans tussen die twee doelstellings te handhaaf nie. ’n Mens moet in gedagte hou dat beleide gemik op sosiale geregtigheid (soos verhoogde toegang en herstel) die werklike gehalte van lewering en die behoefte aan meer hulpbronne beïnvloed. Ondanks die spanning in reële terme – geïnterpreteer in die lig van ʼn Deweyaanse pragmatiese raamwerk waar wat werk ‘reg’ is – kan die twee diskoerse en gevolglike beleide en praktyke tot ʼn mate prakties versoen word. TBOO-kolleges het ʼn wesenlike aantal voorheen benadeelde studente ingesluit wat nou toegang het tot kollege-opleiding, met beter slaagsyfers, gerapporteerde verbeterings in gehalteversekering aldus Umalusi, stygende kwalifikasievlakke van personeel, en ʼn gerapporteerde verbetering in die beskikbaarheid van onderwyshulpbronne by TBOO-kolleges. In antwoord op die vraag oor of markgerigte beleide inderdaad suksesvol was om die gewenste uitkomste vir TBOO te bereik, is ’n besliste nee nietemin geregverdig. Ondanks die spanninge en moontlik teenstrydige diskoerse, is dit moontlik vir TBOOkolleges om vir hulle ’n weg tussen hierdie twee wedywerende doelstellings te baan. Die doel van die studie is dus om die spanninge te erken ten einde konseptuele verwarring en ongewenste uitkomste in die praktyk te voorkom. Verdere empiriese studies moet egter uitgevoer word om ondersoek in te stel na hoe hierdie komplekse balans, in werklike pragmatiese terme, in veelvuldige praktyke met wisselende gevolge tot uiting kom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103594
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