Teacher education curriculum conceptualisation within a context of post-political reform agenda: Lessons from South Africa

Year: 2012

Author: Ramrathan, Labby

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Curriculum intellectualization and theorization, especially within higher education, and in particular teacher education, is at an all-time low within the South African context, largely because of its responsive nature to political, situational and transformational changes that have taken place post the introduction of democracy as a political ideology. Three national teacher education frameworks have been developed and gazetted over this policy craze decade and a half of education transformation within South Africa.  The implications of which have had a phenomenal impact on teachers, learners and higher education.  This period of curriculum transformation has largely been based on a responsive mode based on political utterances and curriculum review processes.  Hence, curriculum thinking and theorization have been minimal, the effects of which have been noted in the continual refinement of curriculum.     This paper presents a landscape of the teacher education curriculum changes that have taken place over a period of a decade and a half within South Africa to illuminate the drivers and complexities of curriculum innovation. The paper further presents an analysis of the three national education frameworks that have been developed and gazette as official policy guiding the construction of teacher education programmes. This analysis is further explored within the curriculum construction process of an institutional case study of constructing a curriculum for the Bachelor's degree in Education. The analysis is done through a critical discourse analysis of the three national policies and the case example.  Through this analysis, it was found that, amongst others, the curriculum for teacher education through these three frameworks was largely driven by a response rationality that is layered, with multiple drivers that are informed by the strength of their positionality as an institution, the political alliance, its disciplinary base and the process leadership.    Through this illuminative landscape, and findings of the critical discourse analysis suggests that issues of curriculum intellectualization and theorization are marginalized and that curriculum conceptualization is at the mercy of political iterations based on a response rationality that is context bound.  This paper contributes to the knowledge base of curriculum analysis and curriculum construction. Most countries have and will experience political changes and therefore from the lessons of South Africa, this paper will contribute towards theoretical discourses on curriculum re-conceptualization within post-political reform contexts.