Understanding Integrated Learning

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This study consists of a phenomenological reflection on integrated learning in a Christian university for community transformation. The previous chapter discussed the research problem and its context, the research questions, research aims and objectives, and the conceptual framework that undergirds the study as well as the research methods used in this study and limitations and delimitations of the study.
This chapter concerns itself with a literature review on the theme of the study and in so doing stands on the shoulders of those who have already studied the problem under scrutiny. The first section briefly reviews the background on higher education in the DRC and integrated learning in Christian higher education. The second section elaborates on the understanding of integrated learning and also gives a glimpse to integrated learning in Christian higher education for community transformation. The following section expands on the theory of transformative learning as one of the current approaches to adult education for transformation and also discusses three of its many dimensions that are of value to this study. The section also examines and critically reviews literature on education for leadership and social responsibility (ELSR) and education for community transformation which are two key aspects that this study investigates.
Inclusion in the last three sections of the literature review was guided by the understanding of integrated learning from two perspectives. First, integrated learning is perceived from the stand point of the integration of faith and learning, a topic extensively discussed in Christian higher education. Secondly, as presented in the definition of key terms, integrated learning affects all aspects of the learner’s life to lead to transformation at personal level and also in community. This perspective is supported by selected theories of transformation which are all briefly presented in the conceptual framework –the map of knowing and learning (Hart, 2009), a three stage transformation process (McCahill, 2006) and the Transformative Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1997). All other literature that did not fall within these perspectives were excluded from the review


In the 1960s, the Caldwell (1959:145) report that was released on the state of education before the decolonization period already pointed out the importance of trained African leaders who would govern themselves to solve their emerging problems, to change the living standards and to compete as equals in international relations. Today, more than fifty years after the general movement of independence in Africa, most African countries, and particularly their education systems, have reached the juncture that education in Ethiopia faced in pre-independence period. When other countries were striving for ‘education for independence’, Ethiopia, following the approach of education for social change in a country which had never experienced colonization, posed the question: “what to achieve with the freedom the nation has always enjoyed?” (Wodajo, 1960: 160).
This very question prevails today in countries such as the DRC. Now that it is an independent nation, with an education system in place to train ‘leaders to become a medium for social change’, what has changed in the society 50 years after that independence because of the presence of the many educated leaders? This is one of the foremost questions that prompted the idea of undertaking this research. It is not true that the DRC has not trained qualified teachers and leaders, but in the course of years, the quality of education has eroded drastically to the point that in 2003, after seven educational reforms, six major problems in the system were stated as a rationale for the launch of yet another and eighth reform in 2003 named Pacte de Modernisation de l’Enseignement Supérieur et Universitaire (PADEM), followed by a ninth one in 2009, initiated after the Bologna process in Europe

Brief overview of educational reforms in the DRC

Reform of 1961
In 1961, the government undertook to reform the education system and the reform mainly targeted secondary schools. Noticing the difficulty that students that come straight from primary schools had to choose the right orientation and adjust to secondary school, the government created a two year program before access to secondary school called Cycle d’Orientation (CO). This program aimed at preparing a large number of youth for high school education and for the orientation that corresponded to their skills and motivations.
Reform of 1963
The 1963 educational reform simply unified the primary school system into a six year program with the purpose to prepare all young people for secondary school studies and then for university. No more could a person go straight to work after few years of training in primary school as was the case immediately after independence when there was lack of qualified workers. After four or five years of studies in primary school, one could seek a job and be hired as PP4 or PP5. A whole generation of young people was thus levelled down which intellectually and socially crippled them to adapt to the constantly changing reality.
Reform of 1971
The educational reform of 1971 particularly affected higher education and revised its organization to suit the political demands of the time which was strongly leaning towards Zaïrianization12. A unified structure of higher education called UNAZA was created. Not only did UNAZA consist of the unification but also the retrocession of all higher education institutions (colleges and universities) to the state under the name of the National University of Zaïre. The aim of this reform was to promote the training of technicians with skills, people who could create employment, leaders and agents of development with a totally ‘Zaïrianized’ and ‘patriotic’ mind-set:
Our educational training must justify the political regime that has been put in place, to consolidate it and amplify its actions in order to safeguard its conquest. It is in this context that the Congolese youth has to totally involve itself in the Nation in order to understand the specific problems of the country and consequently present an attitude which will be the image, the fruit of the new Congolese society, and they will first think nation instead of thinking contest which resulted from certain old structures not adapted to the new realities. (Mafema, 1971:7)
Basically the reform had two themes and was motivated by two reasons as stated by Mafema (1971:7-8): (1): to shape consciences in order to make the Congolese student an authentic Congolese nationalist; (2) to provide scientific training to make the student an operator, an efficient entrepreneur that the economy and the society required at the moment. Two root causes were identified for the university’s inability to meet these aims. First, it was believed that higher education was organized according to the foreign cultural model. Second, a lack of intermediate class that could serve as conduit for knowledge and modern attitudes to flow freely in the social body was noticed. So the new university owned by the government had to provide that intermediate class

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The counter-reform of 1981

Upon noticing the inefficiency of a unified and solely government owned structure in 1981, a counter-reform to the 1971 educational reform was initiated. This reform abolished the UNAZA and brought back autonomy to higher education institutions. It also crowned the principle of liberalization of higher education and a political decree was passed to allow private institutions to function. The state thus lost its monopoly over higher education. However, some legacies of the reform continue to date: the definition of the status of higher education personnel, curricula, regulations and constitutions guiding the functioning of the higher education system in the country

The Higher Education Rationalization project of 1987

In 1987, the World Bank decided to get involved in attempting to provide much needed support to higher education in the DRC. A project named Higher Education Rationalization was launched and funded by the World Bank under the terms of a special agreement signed with the republic in August 1987 to save what could be saved of higher education in the DRC, the giant in Central Africa, whose fate in all aspects could also affect that of neighbouring countries and of Africa in general. The continuing outcome of this project is the funding of statistical data collection by the World Bank every year throughout the country.

The Round Table of 1991on education

In 1991, shortly after the opening up of the country to a multiparty system in April 1990, the education system needed to be re-examined. This occurred during the period of the Sovereign National Conference which was flagged as a turning point in the history of the DRC towards democratization. A forum was organized to make a general assessment of the situation of higher education in the country in 1992 and it revealed: the insufficiency of the education system in Congo, the need for education for all and serious constraints on the Congolese education system. A review of the educational curricula in higher education was also suggested and initiated. The curricula, thoroughly affected by the legacy from the colonial and neo-colonial period and characterized by memorization, teacher-centeredness and theoretical training, had to be opened up to democracy and learner-centeredness following the trend towards political democratization.

The National Workshops on the Assessment of the Educational System and of the State Exams

This reform came as a result of the National Workshops on the Assessment of the Educational System and of the State Exams organized by the new regime in place after the fall of the Mobutu regime. These workshops were held from December 2001 to January 2002. In these sessions, a general diagnosis of the education system in the DRC was made, principles were formulated for the functioning of the system and recommendations were made at all levels, including:

  • The prioritization of education and scientific and technological research at national level;
  • The definition of a good salary policy;
  • The harmonization and adoption of legal texts that regulate education (Statuts, Loi-cadre and Plan Cadre);
  • The finalization of the reform of curricula
  • The training of faculty at doctoral level to prepare the future and replacement of faculty members.

This reform hinted at the right issues but for lack of follow up justified by the lack of will and needed means, it did not bear fruit.

The PADEM reform

The PADEM reform occurred in 2003. It was a Pact for Higher Education Modernization signed between the government and all stakeholders in the higher education sphere. The immediate result was the production of the reviewed curricula implemented to this day. The curricula only give lists of courses required for obtaining degrees in all faculties and tracks but do not define the brief contents of the courses which are left for each institution and the teacher to define. The same course varies from one pole and tendency to the other pole according to the will of teachers who are the real masters of their courses. The trend to bring democracy in higher education ended up strengthening teacher-centeredness in education rather than learner-centeredness.
Private and Christian universities have taken advantage of the situation to adapt the content of the courses to their vision and philosophy and to open up, in some cases, to learner-centeredness as an approach to training leaders and responsible citizens who can freely, but efficiently grapple with issues that beset their communities. They seek to break the dichotomy between teacher-centred learning and ‘learner-centred’ learning through integrated learning. In fact, more recent literature has revealed that a community of inquiry to learning which make the teacher and the learner collaborators in inquiry is more integrative and strongly contributes to stimulating critical thinking (Lipman, Sharp and Oscanyan, 1980; Paul, 1993; Elder, 2013).

The Licence–Maîtrise–Doctorat (LMD) Reform

Following the Bologna process that attempted to re-unify the education system in Europe, many countries in Africa, DRC included, have embarked on the same route. In 2009 the Ministry of Higher Education of the DRC expressed the desire of the government to see all higher education institutions move progressively and selectively into the LMD framework. This meant moving from the three-year undergraduate and two-year Licence program to a three or four year Licence program depending on the track. Many have considered this to be a return to the old program which existed before the graduat and licence 1971 reform which created UNAZA. Before 1971, there were two levels in higher education before Master’s level: two years of Candidature which gave foundational education and two years of Licence for specialization. Only at the end of the second level, Licence, did the student write, present and defend a final paper and receive a degree certificate. This shift also came as a result of globalization which affects education in Africa due to an increasing need to readjust education systems to match the global trend.

1.1 Introductory Orientation
1.2 Background and Context of the study
1.3 Formulation of Research Problem
1.4 Significance of the Study
1.5 Purpose and Aims of the Study
1.6 Research Design, Methodology and Procedures
1.7 Conceptual Framework
1.8 Definition of Terms
1.9 Delimitations of the Study
1.10 Outline of the Study
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Background Discussion
2.3 Understanding Integrated Learning
2.4 Theory of Transformative Learning (TLT)
2.5 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Research Methodology
3.4 Research Methods and Procedures
3.5 Geographical Location of the Study
3.6 Limitations of Study
3.7 Ethical Considerations
3.8 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Demographic Profiles of Participants
4.3 Participants’ views on the nature of Integrated Learning at a Christian university: Definition
4.4 Participants’ views on the Nature of Integrated Learning at a Christian University: Curriculum
4.5 Participants’ views on their Personal learning experiences and felt challenges in Integrated Learning
4.6 Summary
4.7 Participants’ views on how Integrated Learning impacts students’ to act as change agents in their communities
4.8 Participants’ views on felt challenges to transformation in community During service
4.9 Summary
4.10 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Discussions Pertaining to Participants’ Demographic Profiles
5.3 Discussion of Findings pertaining to research main question
5.4 Discussions of Findings pertaining to research sub-question one
5.5 Discussion of Findings pertaining to research sub-question two
5.6 Discussion of Findings pertaining to research sub-question three
5.7 Discussion of Findings pertaining to research sub-question four
5.8 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Overview of study
6.3 Summary of findings and emerging conclusions
6.4 Implications for educational practice
6.5 Recommendations for implementation in Christian universities
6.6 Suggestions for future research
6.7 Conclusion

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