Teachers' participation in policy making : the case of the South African Schools Act.

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dc.contributor.author Govender, Loganathan Velayudam
dc.date.accessioned 2009-03-19T10:22:34Z
dc.date.available 2009-03-19T10:22:34Z
dc.date.issued 2009-03-19T10:22:34Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/6764
dc.description.abstract This dissertation presents an historical analysis of teachers’ participation in policy making with specific reference to the South African Schools’ Act (SASA) of 1996. The central aim of the study was to explore the opportunities, extent and outcomes of teachers’ participation in the development of SASA and the various factors that attest to its complexity. Main argument and claims While acknowledging the broader political, ideological and economic context of teacherstate relations in policy making, this study contends that macro-forces in themselves are insufficient in explaining the dynamics of policy making and teachers’ role in it. Teachers’ participation in policy making is shaped, as powerfully, by factors such as partisan alliances and policy capacity, and by specific school contexts. Fundamental to this argument is the importance attached to the notion of ‘historical specificity’, which provides the overall thread that binds the diverse forces and factors that shaped the nature of teachers’ participation in policy making. In making the above argument, this thesis posits the following main claims: • Teachers’ participation in the development of SASA was historically-determined and shaped by the ambiguous and political nature of teacher-state relations, underpinned by ideological allegiance and flexibility. Key factors that shaped this relationship were government and teacher unions’ harnessing of the ideologies of unionism and professionalism, the ability of teacher unions’ to resist state cooptation and teacher unions’ agency in the cultivation of policy networks, especially partisan and non-partisan alliances; • Teachers’ participation was influenced by the specificity of South Africa’s transition to democracy, particularly the developmental tendency of the postapartheid education state and the politics of compromise that underpinned the Teachers’ participation in policy making: The case of the South African Schools Act vi political transition. Thus, in spite of ‘global’ forces, ‘local’ dynamics were ultimately more instrumental in determining the nature and impact of teachers’ participation in the policy making process; • The ‘stakeholder’ or ‘representative’ form of participation which characterized SASA’s development has underlined the limits of participation founded on a western, liberal model of democracy and stressed the value of direct (participatory) and deliberative models of democracy. Teachers as individuals, therefore, experience ‘dual marginalization’ in the policy arena, firstly, because state policy makers do not consult or engage them, and secondly because teacher unions themselves are often unable to adequately involve grassroots’ members in policy formulation activities within their organisations; • Teachers’ participation in the development of SASA has been dominated by the adoption of a rational and expert-driven model of policy making, wherein the views and contributions of experts are more highly valued than those of ordinary citizens, including teachers. At the same time, the study underlines the importance of a strong organisational basis for teachers’ participation in policy making, particularly the need for well-functioning organizational structures and policy expertise within the ranks of teacher unions themselves; and • Teachers’ participation in policy making is not confined to hopes of influencing policy outcomes. It is about social and policy learning and its implications for teachers’ daily practice and for the organizational development of teacher unions. Main theoretical and methodological contributions The study offers an eclectic conceptual framework for research into teachers’ participation in policy making, drawing on the disciplines of history, political science and education policy, which can be considered by researchers undertaking similar studies especially in transitional contexts. In so doing, the study makes the following contributions: Teachers’ participation in policy making: The case of the South African Schools Act vii It presents teacher unions and policy makers with a more comprehensive perspective to consider when formulating policy; It contributes a novel perspective for examining the relationship between education, civil society and the state in South Africa and countries undergoing transition worldwide; and It provides substance for comparative discussions on teachers’ participation in policy formulation globally. Finally, the study reclaims history as a method of social enquiry in policy analysis and in contrast to existing studies with its largely a-historical policy implementation bias, refocuses the empirical analysis on the policy development process and dynamics. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject 'Stakeholders' Participation en
dc.subject Policy Influence en
dc.subject Networks and Learning en
dc.subject Teacher-State Relations en
dc.subject History en
dc.title Teachers' participation in policy making : the case of the South African Schools Act. en
dc.type Thesis en


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