The Knowledge Base on Educational Change: Restructuring and Reculturing

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The Further Education and Training College Sector: The envisaged trajectory

of the policy implementation process The key proposals for implementing the FET policy present the long-term vision of a coordinated FET system that is responsive to the socio-economic needs of South African society. The policy also acknowledges the limited resources and capacity of government to implement the numerous new policies, and proposes an incremental approach to reorganise the FET college sector. The short-term goals (first 2-5 years after the adoption of the policy) could be applied to the “establishment phase”, during which the weaknesses of the inherited system would be addressed. During this time there would be intensive capacity building in the system, the establishment of new governance and funding frameworks, the establishment of the National Board for FET, and the managing of the change process. The underlying assumption was that the Department of Education would provide the provincial departments of education with support to develop effective institutional management information systems. Other changes included the curriculum reforms and the reorganisation of the FET sector in terms of bringing all colleges into the new funding, governance and planning framework. It was explicitly stated in the policy that the role of the Department of Education would be to develop a new funding methodology, initiate a capacity-building programme, and establish a national advisory structure. The responsibility of the provincial departments of education would be to reorganise their FET college systems, play a fundamental role in building institutional capacity, and manage the introduction of the new FET system.

Defining policy and implementation

Various definitions have been given for policy. According to Fowler (2000:9), “[p]ublic policy is the dynamic and value-laden process through which a political system handles a public problem. It includes a government’s expressed intentions and official enactment as well as its consistent patterns of activity or inactivity”. Policy can be considered as rational activities directed towards resolving group conflict over the allocation of resources and values in order to restore the cohesiveness, order and functionality of society (Harman, 1984). Ball defines policy as “clearly a matter of the authoritative allocation of values … [A policy] project[s] images of an ideal society” (Ball,1990:3). He sees policies as exercises of power and control, and authoritative allocation between social groups. Accordingly, policies vary in their purpose, complexity, target groups, distribution costs and benefits, and location of their impact. A distinction can be made between the various public policies. Substantive policies reflect what government should do, procedural policies indicate who is going to take action and through which mechanisms, material policies provide real resources or rights among the social groups, while symbolic policies remain more rhetoric about the necessary changes. In the South African context since the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, most education policies have been symbolic, substantive and redistributive (Jansen, 2001; De Clercq, 1997). Since the election of the ANC-led government in 1994 change has been urgently needed and the government compelled to deliver on its promises. The result was a multiplicity of new policies in the education arena with virtually no attention given to implementation or the concerns of implementers.

FET policies in the global context

The reforms in skills training and FET stem from the analysis of the restructuring that has taken place in the world economy over the last quarter of a century. These changes are based firstly on the spread of new electronic technologies leading to new forms of work organisation and new managerial philosophies that require workers to be “multiskilled” and “flexible” (Mathews, 1994; Story, 1994). Secondly, the growing internationalism of world production, investment and trade has made local markets more dependent on international markets and investments to the extent that nation-states need to train and equip their workforce to international standards (Ashton & Green, 1996; Brown & Lauder, 1996). New employees are required to demonstrate flexibility, creativity, problem-solving skills, confidence with information technology, and be able to co-operate in the workplace.

The paradox of either restructuring or reculturing as policy options is no

option There are several lessons to be learnt from the work on the dimensions of change (McLaughlin, 1998; Fullan, 1991; 1993; 1996; 1998a; 1998b; 1999; 2000; Lieberman,1992; Louis & Miles, 1990: Elmore, 1990, 1995; Hargreaves, 1994; 1995a; 1995b). Findings indicate that both top-down and bottom-up approaches to innovations often do not succeed to bring about the desired changes for several reasons (see Reynolds, Hopkins & Stoll, 1993). Cuban (1988) distinguishes between innovations that are “first-order” changes and those that are “second-order” changes. First-order changes are those that seek to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation without disturbing existing organisational structures, or substantially altering the roles of students or lecturers. Second-order changes involve fundamental modifications within the organisation, which could involve reviewing organisational structures and roles. The reform of the FET sector in South Africa seeks to bring about second-order change. The demographics of the student population in FET colleges have been undergoing change over the past decade. Cultural diversity has become the hallmark of South African education institutions. Work practices have altered significantly and there is a need to develop instructional practices that are in line with global trends in developing a self-directed, life-long learner. The policy framework promises greater development, effectiveness, equity, participation and redress. In addition, the unprecedented volume of information available both nationally and internationally requires complex analytical University of Pretoria etd – Sooklal, S S (2005) 56 skills in order to access this information in an efficient and meaningful way. The policy framework for FET identifies restructuring as the implementation framework in order for the sector to respond to these social, cultural, and economic needs.

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Applicability of the concepts of restructuring and reculturing to FET

FET is a collective term to identify curriculum programmes designed to prepare students to acquire an education and job skills that enable them to enter employment immediately upon the completion of high school (Lynch, 2000:1-2). In the South African context this translates to level 4 on the NQF. At the same time the FET offered through schools and FET colleges is supposedly required to prepare individuals for the place of work. On the other hand global policy discourses have not only effected changes in FET, but have introduced major changes in all aspects of the education system. The changes brought about in the education systems worldwide include restructuring, decentralisation, curriculum standardisation, partnerships, new governance and funding models. Although a major proportion of the literature reviewed for this study involves school change, the concepts of restructuring and reculturing are also applicable to changes within the FET college sector for example, the principles of changing rules, roles, responsibilities and relationships underpinning the structural changes through mergers in the South African context. The restructuring of the FET sector seeks to remove the duplications in programme offerings and service provision; promote the joint development and delivery of programmes between schools and colleges; enhance responsiveness to local, national and regional needs, and to refocus and reshape the institutional cultures and missions of institutions as South African FET institutions.


  • Overview
  • Acknowledgements
  • Dedication
  • Declaration of Originality
  • List of Tables
  • List of Maps
  • List of figures
  • List of Visual Texts
  • List of Appendices
  • Key Acronyms
  • Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Purpose of this study
    • 1.3 Policy context for the reform of the FET college sector
    • 1.4 The Further Education and Training College Sector: The envisaged trajectory
    • of the policy implementation process
    • 1.5 Significance of the research
    • 1.6 Research design and limitations
    • 1.7 Organisation of the thesis
    • 1.8 Summary
  • Chapter 2: The Context of FET College Origins and Restructuring An Historical Analysis
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 The origins and establishment of the technical college sector in South Africa:
    • 2.2.1 The political intent
    • 2.2.2.Restructuring to create a new FET sector
    • 2.3 The resurrection of FET colleges
    • 2.4 Institutional Cultures of Technical Colleges
    • 2.5 Summary
  • Chapter 3: The Knowledge Base on Educational Change: Restructuring and Reculturing
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.1.1 Defining policy and implementation
    • 3.1.2 FET policies in the global context
    • 3.2 The paradox of either restructuring or reculturing as policy options is no option
    • 3.2.1 Applicability of the concepts of restructuring and reculturing to FET
    • 3.3 Conceptual framework
    • 3.4 Summary
  • Chapter 4: Research Design and Methods
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.1.1 Getting started
    • 4.1.2 The case study method
    • 4.1.3 Data collection
    • 4.2 Research strategy
    • 4.2.1 Data collection instruments
    • 4.2.2 Sampling
    • 4.2.3 Research strategy for critical question
    • 4.2.4 Research strategy for critical question
    • 4.3 Establishing validity
    • 4.4. Modes of analysis and representation
    • 4.5 Role of the Researcher
    • 4.6 Limitations of the study
    • 4.7 Summary
  • Chapter 5: The Multiple Contexts of Policy Implementation in the FET Colleges
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.1.1 The social context
    • 5.1.2 Gauteng Department of Education
    • 5.2 The historical context
    • 5.2.1 Atteridgeville College
    • 5.2.2 Centurion College
    • 5.2.3 Pretoria West College
    • 5.4 Summary
  • Chapter 6: Factors influencing policy implementation: The saga of policy implementation in further education and training
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Policy objectives: As indicated in the documentation
    • 6.3 Policy intentions: Views of policymakers and union representatives
    • 6.3.1 Characteristic of change
    • 6.3.2 Capacity
    • 6.3.3 Support and training
    • 6.3.4 Leadership
    • 6.3.5 Resources
    • 6.3.6 Culture
    • 6.3.7 Strands of congruence
    • 6.4 The provincial experience
    • 6.5 Summary
  • Chapter 7: Implementing FET Policy: A Tale of Three Technical Colleges
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 The tale unfolds
    • 7.2.1 The Atteridgeville Story
    • 7.2.2 The Centurion Account
    • 7.2.3 The Pretoria West Version
    • 7.3 Quantitative data
    • 7.4 Structural factors
    • 7.5 Cultural factors
    • 7.6 Summary
  • Chapter 8: What have we learnt about change? Connecting Data and Theory
    • 8.1 Introduction
    • 8.2 FET policy implementation: perspectives from three technical colleges
    • 8.2.1 The images (implications) of organisational inefficiency and change
    • 8.2.2 Implications for educational change
    • 8.2.3 Implications for future research
    • 8.3 Summary
    • References

The Structural and Cultural Constraints on Policy Implementation: A Case Study on Further Education and Training Colleges in South Africa

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