A curriculum framework for undergraduate studies in dental health science.
Laher, Mahomed Hanif Essop.
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This study begins with an ethnographic self-study w hich allows for a reflection on traditional learning experiences. This study is located in the context of the initial development of dental health professionals within those higher education institutions that end eavour to provide education and training in a rapidly changing context. This context is charact erised by the simultaneous need to address the blurring of boundaries and the dichotom ies that exist such as the first world and the third world, the developed and the less develop ed world, the rich and the poor, health and wealth, the private and the public sectors, the formal and the informal sectors, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the privileged an d the underprivileged. The definitions, concepts, theories and principles around curricula and professional development are examined in an effort to extend int o discoveries of educational research usually beyond the purview of dental health practit ioners, policy makers or higher education specialists involved in training these dental healt h practitioners. It poses key questions regarding the nature of prof essional competences within dental health science undergraduate studies and how the curricula are organised around these perceptions of competence. Investigative tools include particip ant observation, interviews and questionnaires which have included both education d eliverers – the teaching staff - and education consumers – the students. The areas of access by students to programmes (inpu t), activities whilst in the programmes (throughput) and their competences at the exit end of the programme (output) are examined. It was found that institutions and programmes are p aradoxically positioned declaring missions to be globally competitive and internation ally recognised and at the same time wanting to reach out to the population who are disa dvantaged and who form a majority. Whilst the needs of the wider community is for basi c dental services and primary health care, the resources appear to be geared for producing tec hnologically-superior professionals who will cater for a largely urban and middle class pop ulations. The resources available, particularly human resources, for this training, ar e going through a critical shortage. Simultaneously demands are being made to challenge the epistemological rationale of the curriculum practice of the training sites at both u niversities and technikons (now known as universities of technology).