Continuing the debate on teacher autonomy: A capabilities perspective

Keywords: agency, autonomy, capabilities approach, South African education policy, teacher empowerment


Whereas much has been written about initiatives to empower teachers, the academic literature is adamant that the capabilities approach, which is an important agent for empowering teachers in the arena of autonomy, requires continued research.  The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to continue the debate about the position of autonomy in relation to the capabilities approach. By analysing a South African education policy, this article outlines how agency can be applied to empower teachers to be agents of autonomy.  Having employed a capabilities approach, this study shows that possibilities exist for deepening thinking about teachers’ education practices in general.  The findings show that teachers should focus on self-attention, self-rediscovery and become author of the self.  The results show that by empowering teachers to be autonomous may be regarded as a robust paradigm that can be used even as development challenges and educational priorities shift.

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