Higher Education Monitor 11: Report on the National Review of Academic and Professional Programmes in Education

CHE > Media and Publications > Higher Education Monitor > Higher Education Monitor 11: Report on the National Review of Academic and Professional Programmes in Education
August, 2010

The National Review of Academic and Professional Programmes in Education constitutes the second process of system-wide accreditation of higher education programmes in a selected disciplinary area undertaken by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). This National Review started in 2005 with a focus on the MEd and finished in 2007 having covered selected BEd, PGCE and ACE programmes offered at public and private higher education institutions in South Africa.

In choosing the area of education, and in particular, professional qualifications in education as the focus of this review, the HEQC took into account the fundamental role that basic education and the national schooling system have in the development of a democratic society. It also took into account the responsibility that higher education institutions have in this regard given their role in the training of teachers both in pre-service and in service situations. The selection of the specific type of qualifications to be accredited took into account the size of the enrolments as well as the strategic importance attached to mathematics and science in the broader developmental goals of the country.

Reasons for choosing the MEd (ELM) included not only the large number of enrolments in this area but also the complexity of the variants of specialisations that could be broadly clustered under the Education Leadership and Management descriptor. For the ACE, it was decided to focus on the field of Mathematics Education and, as in the broad interpretation that was applied to the ELM field, this came to include all the variants in the ACE relating to Mathematics Education, including Mathematics Literacy. Where institutions did not offer the ACE in Mathematics Education or have a graduate cohort in such a programme, an alternative field was chosen for review. A preferred area selected for review was the field of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. In choosing specialisations in relation to the BEd and the PGCE, it was decided to review Foundation Phase programmes and the Further Education and Training band respectively. In this way the Review could provide insights into the quality of training received by teachers responsible for the entry and exit phases of the schooling process.

The Review resulted in decisions on the accreditation status of 80 programmes being made. For this to be possible, it was necessary to develop evaluative criteria which took into account the specific nature and purpose of the four qualifications under review, without departing from HEQC existing criteria for accreditation. A process of consultation and collaboration between the HEQC and experts in the different specialisations facilitated the undertaking of a daunting task in terms of both the mobilisation of human resources and the putting in place of operational and logistic capabilities to bring successfully the process to completion. None of this would have been possible without the commitment and support of the academics in the field and the openness of the deans of education to the process. The type of relationship built between the Deans Forum and the HEQC staff in charge of the Review was a good example of a partnership between the quality assurance agency and institutions in order to improve quality of provision.

This report is the last stage of the Review; it provides an analytical perspective of the outcomes of the accreditation process and a reflection on the meaning of the accreditation results from the perspective of the quality of teacher education offered at system level. The analysis as well as the reflections presented in this report are based on a variety of sources of information: the self-evaluation reports prepared by institutions in relation to each of the programmes under review; the final accreditation reports which reflect the views of the academic peers and the final accreditation decision of the HEQC Board; and a variety of quantitative information, some obtained through the Higher Education Management Information System of the Department of Education and some provided by the institutions themselves.