"Towards improved praxis" : a case study of the certificate in education (participatory development)
Hlehla, Augustine Zamakwakho Nhlanhla.
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This study set out to provide an understanding of the Certificate in Education programme, CE (PD), in terms of various stakeholder perspectives and its historical development. Through the use of case study method the study investigates the relationship between the first three semesters of the Certificate in Education (Participatory Development) CE (PD) offered largely on-campus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with the final semester module of the programme offered as a service-learning off-campus called Development in Practice (DIP). The objective of DIP is to produce reflective learners in an authentic development context. Within the CE (PD) programme this is understood as praxis. The purpose of the study therefore is to investigate processes within the programme that facilitated or hindered the attainment of praxis. The case study method served this research goal well as it allowed for the social, ideological and historical reality of the CE (PD) to be viewed within a context of its development and the broader contexts of the university and South Africa. As such, this study looked at how one could ensure that theory, abstract knowledge and practice are combined for the purpose of improving community development practice. The study focussed on the aspect of praxis within the CE (PD) with the intention of contribution to the improvement of praxis in training for community development practitioners. Based on Freire's understanding of praxis, the situated cognition and transformative learning theories this study found that certain processes impacted positively or negatively to the CE (PD) programme in facilitating praxis. These processes were varied and included amongst others curriculum conceptualisation and planning, and the most important one being ideology and power related issues. The detailed description of the CE (PD) process would be useful to future curriculum development initiatives. This study argued that community development training is a contested area and cannot only focus skills training but must include consciousness raising located within an emancipatory tradition. Based on this argument an interactive programme development model located within praxis is offered as a contribution towards community development practitioner training in the South African context.