Exploring curriculum experiences of haircare and cosmetology students at Cato Manor Technical College.
There has always been a division between technical educators and technical students and the "so called" academic educators and academic students. In the apartheid days those who pursued a technical college education were shunned as those who could not cope with the rigors of academia. Technical college education was perceived as less desirable and for slow learners. Fundamental social changes have placed new demands on the Further Education and Training sector ( FET). It has become imperative to move away from the traditional divides between academic and applied learning, theory and practice and knowledge and skills. Through the National Curriculum Framework, South African Education has been given a historic opportunity to strategically shape and transform the current disparate education and training system into an integrated system that addresses the needs of the learners, the economy and the community. The new FET policy structure within which Technical Colleges operate will stimulate and empower learners to acquire knowledge and skills for employability and relevant values to respond to challenges confidently. The new curriculum moves towards a flexible access to further education, lifelong learning, higher education and facilitates the transition from school to work while ensuring that education and training is a quality provision aimed at equipping learners with competencies to find jobs. This study explored the curriculum experiences of haircare and cosmetology students at the Cato Manor Technical college. The study focused on the following critical question:- How do haircare and cosmetology students at Cato Manor Technical College, experience the theoretical and practical component of the curriculum? A case study technique was employed to explore the curriculum experiences of the haircare and cosmetology students at the Cato Manor Technical College. Data was collected by administering questionnaires to all second year and second semester students enrolled at the college during 2001. The findings of the study revealed both positive and negative aspects of student experiences of the curriculum. In the study the student profile revealed that the students enrolled at the college were matriculants and there was a wastage of time and duplication of efforts as the program was a Further Education and Training and not a Higher Education programme. The study of the curriculum issues showed that the students thoroughly enjoyed the programmes and were competent. They indicated, a preference for the practical component of the curriculum, and that the theory component should remain unaltered as it was necessary to have a knowledge of the theory to be applied in the practical component. Also evident was the personal experiences of the students that revealed excellent racial relationship and collegiality that existed amongst staff, students and management. The study revealed job opportunities and self-employment as some of the reasons for pursuing the programme. The negative aspects were the lack of counseling and student support services at the college and duplication and a wastage of time. Also evident was the lack of adequate resources that was impacting negatively on their work. The study concludes with recommendations some of which were:- The College in collaboration with the Department of Education must invest in career guidance and counseling, and student support services. The Haircare and Cosmetology department must devise and implement new strategies to assess the practical component of the programme. The college must invest in provision and up-grading of resources. Provide marketing strategies so that the student population will represent all race groups and not only Indian and African students. Despite the negative contributing factors, this department can maintain its growth pattern by addressing its weaknesses and maintaining its strengths and opportunities that exist.