A systematic thinking exploration of the challenges facing maritne education & training : the case of public higher education institutions in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mthuli, Syanda Alpheous.
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The maritime environment from the beginning of this century has had a great socio-economic impact on countries as well as the broader global economy. This has resulted in the need for various stakeholders such as the government and business to play an active role in addressing challenges such as safety and security for example. In the aspect of education and training, the challenges have included the decreasing numbers of youth taking up Maritime Education and Training (MET), technological advancements, the cost, standards, and quality of MET globally. Some of these issues have been identified in developing countries such as the Republic South Africa (RSA). RSA possesses an education and training system which has transformed immensely post its democratization in 1994 and World University Rankings placing its public higher education institutions at the top in African continent, offering an array of programmes from social sciences and natural sciences to those that border on the two, such as MET. However, these institutions still remain confronted by numerous problems, such as the decline in State funding, slow academic succession and transformation, and the increasing demand for institutional capacity, etc. This study, through a Systems Thinking lens explores the challenges facing MET in public higher education institutions, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in RSA. Informed by an interpretivist worldview, a qualitative design, a phenomenological strategy and purposive sampling with the assistance of an interview guide, data was analysed into themes which suggested that MET faces numerous challenges both internal and external of its environment and some of these included limited stakeholder involvement, as well as scarcity. Key stakeholders continue to play an active but limited role by developing partnerships facilitating the provision of MET in attempting to address the challenges facing MET and also close the skills gaps in KZN’s maritime industry. The study contributes to a holistic understanding which illustrates how the development of MET institutions fit into the picture of the maritime industry in KZN and how one is not divorced from the other; rather, they reinforce each other, influencing each other’s state of being.