Repositioning of technical colleges within the transformation of education in South Africa

Van der Merwe, Theresia (2000-03)

Thesis (MEd)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Education a Training forms such an integral part of the community that it can never remain unaffected by the fundamental impact of the transformation taking place within a democratising new South Africa. The transformation of the education processes is also consistent with international trends. The drift towards decentralisation, away from the rigid formal structures and systems of the old dispensation, and the crumbling of boundaries to create a freer and more flexible dispensation, are also indicative of postmodernist thinking. This study has found that technical colleges, throughout their complex history, have admirably withstood and repelled the onslaughts on their right to exist, and that they have indeed managed to strengthen their indispensable position in the education and training system of South Africa. In spite of the wealth of instructional and training opportunities in the local and global market, colleges once again find themselves at a new crossroad with the restructuring of the South African Education system as a whole. These changes, which embrace all levels and areas of technical colleges, are also typical of a postmodernist view and include, inter alia, the following: control and management, funding, level of programmes that ought to be offered, curriculum, composition of staff corps, instructional approach, evaluation and admission policy. The only constant in most cases are the physical facilities and buildings. The nature and extent of the changes has placed the colleges at the centre of a tangle of confusion. The lack of leadership on the part of the provincial education departments and the lack of involvement of the business sector only add to the anxiety and unanswered questions at colleges. The researcher has found that technical college have enormous potential and a central role to fulfil in the development of future human resources in South Africa. Policy-makers should, therefore guard against introducing restrictive measures that would limit the focus of the colleges to the FET level. It would hamper the articulation of learners, thwart the approach of providing 'seamless education', and constrain the development of existing qualities. For once in the history of education in South Africa, there is an urgent need for policy-makers and those responsible for implementing such policies to give their undivided attention to this 'orphan', who has such a vital role to play in the economy and educational system of South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Onderwys en Opleiding vorm so 'n integrale deel van die samelewing dat dit nooit onaangeraak kan bly tydens die ingrypende impakte van die transformasie in die nuwe demokratiserende Suid-Afrika nie. Hierdie onderwystransformasieprosesse reflekteer ook internasionale tendense. Die neiging na desentralisasie en weg beweeg van ou (formele) strukture en stelsels en afbreek van grense na 'n vryer en losser bestel, weerspieel ook die postmoderne denke. Die studie het bevind dat tegniese kolleges merkwaardig deur die geskiedenis heen, die aanslae teen hul bestaansreg in die beroepsonderwys weerstaan en hulonmisbare posisie in die Onderwys en Opleidingsisteem van Suid-Afrika versterk het. Ten spyte van die rykdom van onderrig- en opleidingsgeleenthede in die plaaslike en globale mark, bevind kolleges hulselfweer by 'n nuwe kruispad met die omvattende herstukturering van die hele Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwyssisteem. Die veranderinge, wat alle vlakke en terreine van tegniese kolleges omsluit, is ook tiperend van 'n postmoderne siening en sluit, onder andere, die volgende in: die beheer en bestuur, befondsing, vlak van programme wat aangebied behoort te word, kurrikulum, samestelling van die personeelkorps, onderrigbenadering, evaluering en toelatingsbeleid. Die enigste konstante in die meeste gevalle is egter die fisiese fasiliteite en geboue. Die aard en omvang van die veranderinge plaas tegniese kolleges tans binne 'n warboel van onsekerhede. Die gebrek aan leiding deur die provinsiale onderwysdepartemente en die onbetrokkenheid van die besigheidsektor, dra by tot die bekommernisse en onbeantwoorde vrae by kolleges. Die navorser het bevind dat die tegniese kolleges geweldige potensiaal het en'n kernrol het om te vervul in die toekomstige menslike hulpbronontwikkeling in die land. Beleidmakers moet daarteen waak dat beperkende maatreels van die kolleges se fokus slegs tot 'n VOO-vlak. Dit kan die artikulasie van leerders, markgedrewenheid, die voorsiening aan bestaande behoeftes, die benadering van 'seamless education' en die uitbou van bestaande kwaliteite negatiefbenadeel. Daar bestaan 'n dringende behoefte dat die onderwysbeleidmakers en -implementeerders vir een keer in die geskiedenis van onderwys in Suid-Afrika onverdeelde aandag aan hierdie 'weeskind' wat 'n belangrike rolspeler in die onderwys en ekonomie is, sal gee.

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