oa South African Journal of Higher Education - Teacher professional learning in the context of policy implementation : Part 1 : exploration of the critical relationship between higher education and the development of democracy in South Africa

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Teacher professional learning is assumed to be an ongoing priority in any education system, perhaps especially so in societies where democratic participation is to be enhanced. Such learning builds on teacher preparation programmes offered by higher education institutions (HEIs), and is encouraged for various purposes, one of which is to support the implementation of new policies. The introduction of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) in South Africa is exemplary, and aimed at improving the equity, quality and sustainability of curriculum delivery on a national scale. The implementation of the IQMS involved the traditional cascading approach, relying upon teachers to learn, change their practices, and comply. The focus of this inquiry was into the ways in which teachers responded to the IQMS implementation demands and how they used the policy to learn and benefit from the process. The purpose was to develop an authentic and comprehensive understanding of such learning processes and how they may be sustained in order to make recommendations for future policy implementation and teacher professional learning. Data was collected by means of an action research process in a rural school in KwaZulu-Natal and analysed with grounded theory methods. These methodologies were chosen for their possibility of enabling teacher voices, a key condition for the building of democratic citizenry. Based on the findings, a Teacher Professional Learning Framework (TPLF) was developed, representing teacher learning in terms of the dimensions of preparedness, policy interpretation, collaborative learning, and policy feedback. Recommendations for policy and practice are considered.

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