n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Engaging with and beyond the philosophy of learner-centredness in curriculum development and design for distance education youths in South Africa

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



In the past, distance education was associated with a working adult population that wanted to re-skill. In South Africa, thousands of young people with neither a job nor any previous tertiary education are having to enter universities that offer degrees through the system of open and distance education. This poses, for many of the youth, challenges that have forced distance education institutions to adopt teaching methods that simulate as near as possible, the 'contact' model of conventional universities. One of the strategies adopted for these youths and adults studying through distance education is the need to embed the philosophy of learner-centredness in the learning materials. Scholars in South Africa have continued to attempt to explain this philosophy, and in many cases differ more than they agree on what it should entail. The aim of this article is to explore the necessity of the philosophy of student-centredness in the development of materials in distance education environments. The entrenchment of the conventional university with the educator as sole owner of knowledge took away the power to interact and generate forms of new knowledge from the learners. The current need to democratise education through distance education demanded that educators abate the power they had monopolised. Devolving the production of knowledge-as-power in distance education called for re-orientation of the learning processes.

This structure explores the strategies that educators in Open Distance Learning curriculum design environments have adopted to be as close as possible to their students learning at a distance.
The structure argues that one of the major strategies to achieve this has been to propagate the role of interactional activities in learning materials (modules) within Open and Distance Learning (ODL) environments. This structure offers preliminary insights into a subject that is as exciting as it is controversial. The structure emphasises the potential of the learner-centred philosophy to impart critical crossfield skills that might redefine another difficult concept of graduate-ness in the context of the Tuition Policy of Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) in South Africa.

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