A study of participation in curriculum decision-making in two secondary schools in Amanzimtoti circuit.
Prior to the present era, participation in curriculum decision-making at a school level has been very limited in South Africa. The decisions made at schools could be described as implementation as these were influenced to a large extent by the decisions that were made at a higher level. The education system was thus correctly described as very authoritarian and highly centralised at the hands of the authorities in the Department of National Education (NEPI: 1992; King & van den Berg (1991); Christie (1989); Kallaway (1984). The proposals of recent policy documents, such as NEPI (1992) and a Policy Framework for Education and Training (1994), tried to change the above scenario by proposing a broader participation by major stakeholders in schools like parents, learners and educators in curriculum decision-making of the schools. These policy documents culminated in the enactment of the South African Schools Act No.84 of 1996 which officially gave powers to major stakeholders in schools. Governing bodies consisting of learners, parents and educators became the most powerful structure in a school responsible for the governance of the schools. The governing bodies thus assumed powers and duties that they had never had or had little to do with in the past. Parents and learners were now expected to play a major role in the process of making curriculum decisions. This study aims at investigating what curriculum decisions schools make, who makes these and how this is done with an aim to determine the extent to which the major stakeholders (parents, learners and educators including the principal and other promotion post holders) in a school do participate in making major curriculum decisions in their schools. The study was conducted in two secondary schools in Amanzimtoti Circuit which falls under Umbumbulu district of the Durban South Region of the KwaZulu-Natal Province in the Republic of South Africa. A written questionnaire and a semi-structured interview were used to gather data from the respondents in the two secondary schools. To choose respondents from the two schools, a stratified random sample was used but, in a case where only one person occupied a post in that level, that occupant automatically became part ofthe sample. The main findings of the study were :- • Stakeholders interviewed (educators, learners and parents) do take part in cuniculum decision-making in the two secondary schools but, this happens differently for different levels. • Whilst many of the stakeholders interviewed are eager to take part personally in the curriculum decision-making process of their schools, not all of them have the confidence and the ability to do this. • Trust and confidence, by some of the respondents, in the principals and educators tend to make these respondents to lean back and relax, which then makes the principals and educators to be more prominent during the curriculum decision-making process. • All respondents have confidence and hope that the prospects for an all-inclusive and a participative curriculum decision-making approach are bright and promising for the future. The recommendations made include continued assistance to be given to schools in the form of in-service training and workshops for both parents, educators and learners, including the principals of schools, to equip all of them with the necessary skills for effective participation in curriculum decision-making in schools.