The implementation of professional teacher development policies: a continuing education perspective
Tsotetsi, Cias Thapelo
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This study aims at designing a strategy to effectively implement Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes for teachers at two schools in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District. In order to achieve this, the following specific objectives were devised to guide the study, namely: 1. To demonstrate and justify that there is need to design such a strategy for the effective implementation of CPD programmes for teachers, 2. To identify and discuss the components and aspects of such a strategy, 3. To determine the conditions under which such a strategy could be successfully implemented, 4. To anticipate possible threats that may hamper the operationalisation of the strategy so that mechanisms are put in place to circumvent them and 5. To monitor the implementation of the strategy so as to find out whether it was effective in achieving its aim. Critical Emancipatory Research (CER) as the theoretical framework was chosen to couch the study towards the operationalisation of the above mentioned objectives. CER‟s agenda of equity, social justice, freedom, peace and hope made it suitable for the design of a strategy that would incorporate teachers and the school community at large of; the School Governing Body, Learning Facilitators, School Management and Governance Developers, Integrated Quality Management System coordinators and teacher union representatives. The reason for including these stakeholders and partners being that their direct participation tends to enhance ownership by participants, democratise and legitimise the process of implementation of CPD. Furthermore, the features of Total Quality Management (TQM) as the conceptual framework which includes empowerment, creative problem solving, recognition of participation and participative management dove tailed meaningfully and effectively with CER. Using the above as the lense, I reviewed the literature on teacher professional development in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Pakistan because these represent the best pratices with regard to CPD given their socio-economic contexts which are similar to the two schools under investigation. Literature revealed a number of challenges and mechanisms which were put in place to solve them. Informed by theory and guided by the objectives of the study, I also looked at the conditions that made these solutions to be operational as well as the threats that scuttled their effectiveness in some instances. My main intention being to find evidence why and how some of these strategies worked effectively. To complement the conceptualisation above I collected empirical data from the two schools mentioned above within Participatory Action Research (PAR) which enabled the study to operationalise CER in action and to problematise issues of unequal power relations between the Department of Education and the teachers. These power differentials seemed to be the most important factor that caused problems in the implementation of CPD currently. Through this approach the voices of the marginalised and excluded school communities were given opportunity to be expressed. The empirical data confirmed that there were challenges in the implementation of CPD at the schools as revealed in the literature. These challenges included the exclusion of educators as practioners, as well as other beneficiaries in the implementation of these policies. There were also problems in formulating a commonly acceptable vision, hence no coordinated plan in implementation as well as lack of proper monitoring procedures to name a few. In order to overcome these challenges, six distinct components of the strategy to solve theses problems emerged. The first of the six components of the strategy was the establishment of a team comprising of all stakeholders. This also included the creation of a common vision for all, based on a thorough Strengths, Weaknesses, Opporunties and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Again, from the SWOT analysis came many issues that necessitated prioritising items that could be handled within defined time frames, given the resources and capacity available. Based on the above, a strategic plan of action was put in place complete with monitoring procedures to determine progress made as well as suggest possible ways of improving on the weaker spots. Having tried and tested the strategy in two schools in the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District, the collected data showed that the strategy responded to the research question. The study ends by proposing a strategy to effectively implement the CPD programmes and policies which include the same components as was used in the study itself. Key terms: Continuing Professional Development of teachers, Total Quality Management System, Critical Emancipatory Research, Critical Discourse Analysis, Participatory Action Research, Integrated Quality Management System, SWOT analysis, Sustainable Learning Environments, Effective strategy, Strategic plan.