Curriculum decision-making in the selection of new subjects in schools: a qualitative study of the adoption of tourism as an elective in selected KwaZulu-Natal high schools.
Dube-Xaba, Zanele Heavy-Girl Winnie.
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Following the introduction of Tourism in the South Africa secondary school curriculum, there has been a swift growth in the number of schools offering the subject nationally. Using the adoption of Tourism as a subject in selected schools in KwaZulu-Natal curriculum, the study reported in this thesis examined the nature of curriculum decision-making, the factors that informed it and the extent of stakeholder participation in the process. The study was located within an interpretive paradigm and employed a qualitative approach to research. A case study design focusing on curriculum decision-making involved in the selection of Tourism as a new subject was utilised in this study. From the four schools used, key stakeholders, including the principal, Heads of Departments, tourism teachers and parent members of the SGB were interviewed, based on their vested interest in both the subject and curriculum decision-making. In addition, several documents from within and outside the schools were analysed. Three theoretical frameworks informed data analysis in the study. First, Obanya’s (2004) functional curriculum theory suggests that curriculum decision-making in schools is influenced by macro-political and economic factors as well as factors within the school context. Second the stakeholder theory, as proposed by Freeman (1984) posits that all stakeholders should participate in the decision-making process, including in adoption of new subjects. Thirdly, Walker’s (1971) model of curriculum development posits that schools must engage in deliberations and discussions that are participatory and involve school communities in making curriculum decisions. Informed by these frameworks, the findings from the study suggest that, first, the curriculum decision-making involved in selecting Tourism as a new subject in the participating schools was influenced by both macro-policy and institutional forces. Second, the principals were largely responsible for the decisions made, with minimal involvement of teachers and parents, and a total exclusion of learners. Informed by these findings and literature from previous studies, this thesis proposes a framework for effective/desirable curriculum decision-making in schools. The framework posits that curriculum decision-making, particularly the selection of new subjects in schools can only be effective when it involves the full participation of all stakeholders. Such stakeholders must not only recognise and endorse the rationale for the decision, but must also understand their expected roles in the process and be trained and supported to enact them effectively. This is likely to lead to informed decision-making in the school, and in turn, to the full support and effective implementation of the decision made, including effective teaching and learning in the classroom and, linked to this, positive educational outcomes.