Perceptions of secondary school teachers in Clermont towards participation in curriculum development.
Hlatshwayo, Vuyiswa Joyce.
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Recent Policy documents, such as the ANC Draft Framework on Education and Training of 1994, the White Paper on Education and Training of 1995 and the Curriculum Framework for General and Further Education and Training of 1996 have proposed broad participation by major stakeholders, in particular teachers, in the process of curriculum planning and decision-making. This represents a major shift from past practices which limited teacher decision-making to the classroom. These proposals are made against the background that South African education is undergoing a period of transition from a system which was driven by apartheid policies to a more progressive and democratic system. This study sought to investigate the responses of teachers in Clermont, a semi-urban black settlement in Durban, to the policy proposals which state that their participation in curriculum planning and development should be extended. It also aimed to explore their thinking concerning the implications such proposals may have for them. A non-proportional random stratified sample of teachers in promotion and non-promotion posts was drawn to survey teacher responses to these proposals. A mailed "self administered" questionnaire was used as the research instrument for this study. The major findings which emerged from the survey are: Teachers in Clermont believe that they have a major role to play and that role should not be limited to the classroom. They regard decisions made about curriculum as directly affecting them. Despite their support for extended participation in curriculum planning and development they feel they are not adequately prepared for that role. They regard themselves as having inadequate knowledge of the theory and practice of curriculum. In particular, they think they lack skills in designing and planning curricula because they were not adequately prepared during their teacher training, as well as the fact that they were not given such opportunities in the past. Teachers expressed the view that participation in curriculum development could facilitate their professional development. Teachers also acknowledge the importance of the contribution of other stakeholders such as parents and pupils in making curriculum decisions. In the light of the major findings the study recommends the following: A holistic approach to teacher development should be adopted which provides teachers with basic skills and concepts in curriculum and curriculum development through seminars and workshops. In the context of the implementation of a new curriculum which is outcomes-based, workshops and seminars could facilitate the process of introducing the new curriculum and also enabling teachers to be critical of their practice. In order to create a favourable climate for teacher development, teacher development must be integrated with whole school development through, for example, in-service training which is school-focused. To facilitate whole school development the creation of forums, such as teacher forums where teachers could discuss current debates, and learning forums involving teachers, pupils and parents where problems facing schools would be explored are recommended. In the longer term pre-service teacher education should be restructured to include training in curriculum development in order to adequately prepare student teachers in curriculum planning and development. To bridge the gap between schools and colleges of education, universities and the communities, partnerships between schools, universities, colleges of education, and non-governmental organisations, as well as partnerships between schools, communities and the Department of Education at provincial level should be created.