Curriculum and competence : exploring the relationship between competence development and the curriculum : a comprehensive case of two TVET institutions in South Africa.
The term “skills development” has been debated in South Africa by government, labour and scholars for the last few years. A lot has been written about the country’s shortage of skills in critical sectors such as mining and manufacturing. In response to these challenges the government has invested a lot of resources towards the development of policies that will facilitate the transfer of skills to the majority of South African citizens. The legislative and policy frameworks established in South Africa to facilitate skills development are quite clear on the mandate for institutions within the TVET sector. Historically TVET in South Africa has been viewed as a means to close the skills gap that exists within artisanal occupations and increase mass economic participation of previously disadvantaged individuals. However there remain significant challenges at the institutional level that make it difficult for a coordinated strategy to gain any traction in addressing the issue of skills development. The TVET system in South Africa is quite complex and has various components that fit quite intricately together. It is therefore critical to understand the TVET policy landscape and a significant portion of the discussion in this dissertation is focused on providing some insight into the various stakeholders. The intention is to understand how these various components interact within the TVET space and how this interaction affects the transfer of knowledge and skills to learners within the system. The discussions delve into the subject of how these various institutional components interact with each other within the TVET space and how this interaction affects the transfer of knowledge and skills to learners within South Africa’s system. In order to gain greater insight into some of these institutional dynamics this study was designed to investigate issues around curriculum and competence. This study is broadly framed by the relationship between curriculum and competence; to be more specific, curriculum design and its influence on competence development. The study makes use of the findings from a COMET study conducted in South Africa in 2011. COMET is a form of Large Scale Competence Diagnostics tool in TVET and is one of the instruments that can be used for assuring and developing quality TVET curricula. Using COMET as a benchmark, the focus of the study was uncovering some of the factors which influence the development of holistic problem solving competence amongst apprentices and trainees who are at various stages of their training at different types of TVET institutions in South Africa. Through this study we have endeavoured to answer the following questions; 1) what are the patterns of achievement of trainee electricians in the COMET test in relation to their training institutions? 2) What influence does the curriculum have on the development of holistic competence?