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A study of Majuba college’s approaches to understanding its local environmental needs, using systemic tools.

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Majuba College is a public, multi-campus, technical and vocational, education and training (TVET) college in northern KZN, South Africa, under the auspices of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The research question sought to find to what extent Majuba College understands its environment and in what ways has the college aligned with its perceived local markets. The objectives were to determine how the college understands its environment, what would constitute a ‘fair’ understanding of its environment, and to critically examine the college’s understanding of its environment against a ‘fair’ understanding thereof. Further objectives of the study were to determine to what extent the college is aligned with its perceived markets, and make conclusions and recommendations by reflecting on the findings. The research question is important because a college that understands the knowledge and skills required in the environment, may use its resources effectively to educate and train students to meet those needs. The literature review provided a reference of how organisations understand their environments, drawing upon environmental scanning theory, across corporate and educational environments, within local and international settings. The strategic value of environmental scanning in higher educational settings was reflected in case studies and practices. A qualitative, practitioner-based research approach was used. Focus groups included key internal and external stakeholders. Critical systemic practice was adopted, specifically Creative Holism, wherein the principles of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) and the Viable System Model (VSM), were applied to explore the research question. The research revealed the College’s lack of a sustained and structured approach to environmental scanning and its disconnect with the its organisational strategy. Related factors such as leadership challenges and the conflict of marketing roles, are relevant. Recommendations included that the College’s environmental scanning be a sustained, strategic activity that feeds into the organisational strategy. A significant recommendation is the use of a Viable System Model used in the design mode, to restructure the college systemically to meet the challenges of the external environment.


Doctoral degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.