Quality education and professionalism in South African public education : an education law perspective
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The search for quality education has been a major focus of the post-apartheid South Africa, and also a major part of the robust academic, school governance, public and political debates in South Africa for the past two decades, and it still is today. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is aware that despite exerting joint efforts with business and industry and all key stakeholders, it is not succeeding in providing quality education for all learners. From the transformation process and the legislative framework utilised to transform and democratise education, the South African public education system should have yielded quality outcomes by now. The democratic transformation led to upholding fundamental rights of all citizens and new progressive developments were implemented in the school system. Despite the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996, the National Education Policy Act 27 of 1996 (NEPA), the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (SASA), the Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998 (EEA), and the South African Council for Educators Act 31 of 2000 (SACE Act), professionalisation of education and regulating unionism to adapt to progressive mechanisms and democracy have been atrociously neglected. The character of South African public education has not changed much, except for educators’ registration with SACE, which is a legislated prerequisite for entrance into the teaching profession. The key stakeholders in education do not adequately fulfill their roles as stipulated in the statutes above. This study investigated factors that might be deterrence towards quality education attainment, professionalism and failure to implement legislation. The investigation brought the theories of structure and agency into the education sphere. The underlying normative issues of structure versus agency have set up the framework of power – agential and structural powers – and the power struggle and influence of such powers have on quality education, professionalism versus unionism, and the interpretation and application of statutes. Educators are valuable human capital for the total development of learners; yet they are subjected to bureaucratic and labour structures that deny them their agency and professional autonomy as they practice their constitutional right of choice of a profession. Quality education begins with educators who should be autonomous when exercising their rights in the classroom. This study has indicated that some educators are aware of their agential powers, but various external and internal factors influence their ability to utilise them v effectively. Parents have a limited understanding of the concept of power and their children are perpetual victims of the two bullies, namely bureaucratic structures and labour structures. Quality must define the constitutional right to a basic education. The state has reneged on its obligation to allocate adequate human and material resources to enhance quality delivery of education. The post provisioning model (PPM) which is underpinned by the stipulations of subject weighting norms in the EEA is an instrument designed to distribute educator posts to public schools. The study revealed that the PPM is a major deterrent towards quality education nationally. Education is an essential fundamental right and every pertinent aspect of it demands the attention of all stakeholders. The study adjourns by suggestions that stringent measures that determine who enters the profession and who does not ought to be applied by SACE and DBE. Investing and valorising in current legislation will improve quality education in South African public schools.
- Education