At the policy-practice interface : exploring technical vocational education and training lecturers' educational reform experiences.
Buthelezi, Zanele Gladness.
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This study investigated lived personal and professional educational reform experiences of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College lecturers at the policy-practice interface in the post-apartheid era. A literature search revealed that TVET lecturers’ voices in the South African context were a terra incognita, as they have been missing and neglected for decades. The study is a contribution towards filling that void. The study used a qualitative research approach from an interpretive paradigm. Open-ended life history interviews of 12 TVET college lecturers from two different colleges were conducted. The participants have worked in the sector for more than 10 years. Questionnaires were used to elicit lecturer biographical data. The main analysis technique used was narrative analysis. The study draws on a social theory by Norbert Elias, who emphasizes interconnectedness of relations amongst people, rejecting the homo clausus image of man. Findings suggest that educational change was complex and daunting for TVET lecturers. The experiences of TVET lecturers suggest that they were not adequately engaged during the conceptualization stages of the reform. Implementation had to start before they had familiarized themselves with the innovations, hence the lament that they were not ready. The reform was perceived as rapid and ephemeral. Rapidity led to the development of unrealistic timeframes, ambitious scope and inequitable practices in the distribution of resources. Educational reforms fell short of continuity and conformity to system norms and yielded a myriad of unintended and unanticipated consequences. Because of the prevalence of feelings of inadequacy precipitated by curricular changes, this study recommends that TVET lecturers be adequately capacitated. TVET lecturer development strategies need to fortify different kinds of knowledge such as disciplinary, tacit, pedagogical, work-place and knowledge of the heart, such as values, attitudes, intuition and situated learning. The study recommends that strategies to alleviate onerous administrative duties for lecturers be devised. The study recommends that solutions to NCV challenges, such as mixed ability classrooms, compounded student workloads, complex courses that are pitched higher than the level of the targeted student and lack of technical background, be found. The study highlighted adverse effects of prescriptive, top-down reforms which have been cited as silencing professional input. This study concludes that challenges could have been minimized if the lecturer was considered to be one of the key factors for educational reform to succeed. The study recommends that policymakers and college management utilize prudent participative and consultative strategies that include lecturers for enhancement of future policy conceptualization, implementation and evaluation.
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