A study of the process of professionalisation of teacher educators at colleges of education, with special reference to public policy, organisation and professional association.
Nicholls, Gordon Charles.
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The last decade has seen an increase in the institutionalised professionalisation of the White teachers in the Republic of South Africa. In 1981 the de Lange Commission called for the professionalisation of teacher educators and this was accepted by the Government in the White Paper of 1983. Subsequently teacher educators have been compelled by the National Education Policy Amendment Act (House of Assembly), 1986 (Act 103 of 1986) to register with the Teachers' Federal Council and financial pressure was brought to bear under the Act for teacher educators to associate with recognised teacher organisations. The outcome of this requirement appears to be greater control of the profession by the Government. It is timely to investigate precisely what is understood by professionalisation vis-a-vis teacher educators, as the professionalisation of teacher educators cannot be accomplished by statutory fiat alone. Nor have teacher educators held a particularly professional position within education. The colleges of education have been hemmed in by the provincial authorities on the one hand and by the powerful university lobby on the other. Colleges of education have historically been associated with secondary education and still are, in that they are controlled by the provincial authorities and have not been accorded full tertiary status and standing within the educational organisational structures. The colleges of education per se have no representation and no direct input into policy making and planning for education in South Africa. It is relevant and urgent to ask questions such as "What is meant by the professionalisation of teacher educators?", "What process is involved in professionalisation?" and "How can the increased professionalisation of teacher educators be realistically accomplished in the Republic of South Africa?" To this end, a full exposition of the concept of professionalisation is derived from the literature. The phenomenon and process of professionalisation are thoroughly considered, mainly from a theoretical sociological perspective. A relatively recent history of important events in Education within the Republic of South Africa is considered in the light of the possibilities for furthering the process of the professionalisation of teacher educators in this country,. In particular, the implications of the recommendations of the De Lange Commission (1981) and the Government's reaction to this Commision, as contained in the White Paper (1983), are considered. The South African Teachers' Council for Whites and its impact is assessed, and the implications of the 1983 Constitution are considered, as they affect teacher education in the Republic of South Africa. All the facets and factors implicit in the process of the professionalisation of teacher educators are critically reviewed via the attributive and process paradigms of professionalisation as explicated by Ozyga and Lawn. Recommendations are generated based on the insights obtained. In particular two facets of paramount importance emerged : (i) The need for an organised professional teacher educator association, to promote professional concerns and to represent professional interests in educational provisioning, is essential; and (ii) The need for the Government to reorganise its educational structures, so as to afford teacher educators a channel of professional representation, is evident. These facets would be of mutual value to the profession and the Government alike. Current education structures are sketched and futuristic idealistic models of organisational structures are proposed. On the basis of these studies a number of recommendations are proposed, including, inter alia, the following primary facets : Teacher education should be occupationally delineated, its members should be incorporated in a distinct and discrete professional registration category and statutory recognition should be given to this profession and its members; Teacher educators should form a fully developed national professional association to promote individual and corporate interests and to negotiate on matters of interest and concern; The teacher education profession should be rationalised and coordinated nationally, be accorded a greater degree of professional autonomy and be formally involved in national policy making in a unitary general affairs body; Teacher education should be upgraded to a fully degreed profession, with specialised post graduate degrees being made available with a specific bearing on teacher education, including the opportunity for research; and The courses offered by colleges of education should be upgraded via establishing the option of degree courses at colleges, concentrating all teacher training at colleges of education, providing enhanced facilities for serving teachers to upgrade their qualifications at colleges, promoting a wider acceptance and implementation of integrated teacher training degree courses and promoting the esteem of teaching degree and diploma courses as professional and academic qualifications of repute.