Intergreted strategic planning framework for teacher education and development in South Africa

posted by / Monday, 23 February 2015 / Published in Latest posts, POLICY PAPERS

Executive summary


This Technical Report brings together into one document all the research undertaken towards the development of the new, strengthened, integrated Plan for teacher development in South Africa.

The Report is structured as follows: it begins with (a) a historical overview of teacher education provision in South Africa, and then (b) offers an account of what happened to the former public colleges of education. This is followed by (c) a synopsis of teacher demand, supply and utilisation, together with detailed analyses of recent data on the training of teachers at (d) public and (e) private higher education institutions. Research on (f) ways of identifying and addressing teachers’ development needs is accompanied by reports on what participants at the Teacher Development Summit had to say about (g) institutional arrangements and development role-players and (h) policy alignment, and the interrelationships between policies relating to teacher education and development – specifically the IQMS, the Whole School Evaluation (WSE) system and the the Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) System. Thereafter follow surveys of the following: (i) international institutional arrangements for the delivery of initial teacher education and continuing professional development, (j) Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioner development and (k) provincial teacher development institutes and education resource centres. The report ends by examining (l) teacher development support structures, (m) teacher education and development functions in all the national and provincial education departments, and (n) funding arrangements for teacher education and development. Appendices have been included, where relevant, to provide additional detail and substance in support of the Plan for teacher development.

Throughout the history of modern South Africa, responsibility for teacher education provision has been shared by both national and provincial authorities. For most of this time, provincial colleges typically trained primary school teachers and universities trained secondary school teachers. This state of affairs has complicated national planning and periodically prompted concerns about the variable quality, cost and coordination of teacher education.

In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996), which determined that all teacher education would henceforth fall under national control, national education policy has attempted to bring the number and quality of teachers being trained into line with the needs of the provinces in whose schools they are to teach, and to reduce duplications and inefficiencies.

The high cost and low quality of the colleges of education in particular and of the university sector more generally, coupled with the finding of the National Teacher Education Audit of an oversupply of teachers, prompted the rationalisation and integration of these sectors on the basis of what Education White Paper 3 of 1997 called ‘regional and national needs, sound educational practice, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness’.

By 2004, the teacher education institutional landscape had been completely transformed. Closures, mergers and incorporations resulted in teacher education provision being concentrated in significantly fewer, larger, multidisciplinary public higher education institutions. The vast majority of former colleges of education that were not directly incorporated into higher education institutions are still being used for educational purposes, in the form of Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, teacher development institutes, university learning centres, education resource centres, schools and/or provincial education departmental offices.

This concentration of teacher education provision has made it possible for education planners and policy-makers to understand and assess the system more accurately, in order both to determine strengths and more easily identify weaknesses. It reduced the direct cost to the state of training teachers, but passed on some of these costs to individual prospective teachers, in part due to higher fees but also due to the fact that provincial teacher education budgets were not redirected to the institutions now primarily tasked with teacher education. It also made it not only financially but physically more difficult for potential and practising teachers, particularly in the more rural and remote parts of the country, to access teacher education and development facilities. It has generally permitted better quality teacher education and development programmes and practices to come to the fore, while exposing a range of aspects that still need to be improved. Lastly, while concentration might in principle facilitate coordination, it has not in itself improved it, nor has it yet shown marked gains in efficiency.

An international survey of institutional arrangements for teacher education and development has shown that teaching is increasingly seen as a graduate profession, with initial teacher education treated as a national responsibility. Initial teacher education and continuing professional development are a continuum, serviced through an integrated network of institutional providers of both formal and informal programmes at all levels of the system, including colleges, institutes and university faculties of education as well as professional practice schools and teacher development centres. Management of and budgeting for continuing professional development is often devolved to more local levels, including via specialised, purpose-built teacher development centres.

Parallel developments are apparent in South Africa, where teacher education is located in the higher education sector and there is strong emphasis on the completion of degree studies. However, while the country already possesses a similar system of institutional providers, programmes and teacher development centres at various levels, the system is not adequately coordinated or integrated, and there is a need to improve the capacity, cooperation and reach of existing institutional providers and development centres, and to enhance the quality and relevance of both initial and continuing, and formal and informal, teacher education and development programmes.

It is against this historical background, in the light of these international developments, and on this structural landscape, that efforts to develop a new, strengthened, integrated Plan for teacher development must be both situated and addressed. In addition, comprehensive, reliable and up-to-date information is essential for planning purposes. A review of available research, including a recent survey of the numbers of new teachers being produced and teachers engaging in formal continuing professional development at all public higher education institutions, provides more detailed information with which to assess what is currently known about teacher supply, demand, utilisation and development in South Africa.


Link: Full Document