An investigation into the socio-economic importance of technical education for South African Indians.
SUMMARY The researcher was primarily concerned with the socio-economic importance of technical education for the South African Indians in the 1980's. His interest was aroused because of the outlook of pupils and parents towards technical education in the 1970's when the system of differentiated education saw the introduction of Industrial Arts in the school curriculum. Indian secondary schools were equipped with modern workshops and supervised by qualified teachers. However, too few pupils elected to study Industrial Arts subjects then. A preliminary investigation by the researcher at that stage revealed that parents were generally not encouraging their sons to pursue technical subjects at all. The general feeling among Indian parents was that Industrial Arts subjects were devoid of intellectual value, that these subjects were inferior and suitable only for the delinquent, the lazy and the retarded certainly not for their children. The technikon was frowned upon as a tertiary institution. In short, parents and pupils were far too academically orientated and regarded technical education and vocational training as second rate and inferior. However, several factors gradually brought a change in the attitude of the community towards this type of education. The economic recession, the almost complete lack of job opportunities, and the difficulty of the student securing a place at the university, (tightening entrance requirements) meant that both parents and pupils were re-examining subjects critically. Presently, greater numbers of pupils are selecting Industrial Arts subjects. Even the Indian female pupils are now studying Woodworking and Metalworking. Economically, the technical subjects can pave the way to many careers. Socially, the pupil who studies technical subjects, has no fear of being looked down upon since the outlook of the community has changed. Parents in the higher income group, for example, those living in Reservoir Hills, had similar expectations for their sons as those parents from the lower income group living in areas such as Phoenix, Chatsworth or Merebank. The status of the technical subjects had been improved in the eyes of the community, due mainly to the tight economic situation. An accelerated and diversified expansion programme has been embarked upon by the Planning Section of the Department of Education and Culture (House of Delegates) to accommodate the rise in pupil numbers in the technical field. Four technical colleges and a secondary technical school are in operation presently, with more being planned. The Planners are aware that the school systern must provide both knowledge and skill components and they have realised that for too long the system over-emphasised the knowledge component because the major purpose of schooling was to direct the pupil towards the university. Very little attention was given towards satisfying the needs of industry and commerce. The pupil, as he develops, must have a basic understanding of the electrical, mechanical and electronic equipment with which he is surrounded. He should possess the skill to operate such equipment and carry out elementary maintenance. This could be achieved with the introduction of the subject Technika which would be offered in addition to Industrial Arts subjects. The researcher trusts that the relevant authorities will continue with their expansion programme in respect of technical education and that it/will not be subjected to a reduction in the budgetting of funds since the future of many pupils depends on technical education.