Reconceptualizing Education in SSA by Dr Ruth Aluko & Dr Funke Omidire University of Pretoria

A recording of the HEHD Group's Brown Bag Talk of 6th June 2022 with Dr Ruth Aluko and Dr Margaret Funke Omidire University of Pretoria

Reconceptualizing education in sub-Saharan Africa: Realizing equity and social justice

Although sub-Saharan Africa has made giant strides in education, the quality of its education still requires improvement, which can be linked to high unemployment rate among youth. Apart from training people to be literate and numerate, education should prepare individuals for life. This presentation is an holistic view of three studies that focus on (1) the education systems and training in selected African countries in comparison to the 21st Century education requirements; (2) a proposed conceptual framework developed from the synthesis of both education systems and training; and (3) teachers’ perspectives on the appropriateness of the framework. In order to capture the complexity of the challenge and evaluate the framework relevance, the authors have adopted the Capabilities Approach Theory. The main research question that guided this study is: To what extent is the evidence-based conceptual framework feasible for the reconceptualisation of education in sub-Saharan Africa, and what are the implications of the findings for education in this and similar contexts? The authors adopted the sequential explanatory mixed-methods that included literature review, survey and focus group discussions with 200 purposively selected participants. Data analysis included thematic analysis and descriptive statistics. Findings revealed that it is necessary to reconceptualize education on the continent with a focus on the quality of the opportunities given to students. We should not just be interested in the number of graduates, but on the ability of individuals to be and to do what they have reason to value.

Presenters' Bios:
Dr. Ruth Aluko is the researcher within the Unit for Distance Education at the University of Pretoria. She manages the quality of the institution’s Open Distance Learning programs. Ruth facilitates training and workshops, and is involved in the evaluation of ODL programs. Ruth is a co-editor of the books Assuring institutional quality in Open Distance Learning (ODL) in the developing contexts and Exploring dual and mixed mode provision of distance education. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Africa Education Review, and she is the second-term President of the National Association of Distance Education in Southern Africa (NADEOSA). Her research focus areas include quality management of ODL programmes, mobile learning, access, social justice, program evaluation, student support, and teacher professional development. Ruth is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher.

Margaret Funke Omidire is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria. Her research interests centre on multiplicity of languages in education and issues of psychological well-being of learners/teachers/parents affected. Furthermore, Funke is involved in school-based intervention research, learning/learner support and she is also interested in the reconceptualization of education in sub-Saharan Africa. Funke is a registered Educational Psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is the programme coordinator of the MEd Educational Psychology and Chair of the Ethics Committee, Faculty of Education. Funke is the 2022 Chairperson of the Education Association of South Africa and a member of the International Association of Multilingualism. She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher.
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