In search of teacher professionalism: TVET teachers’ “dual narrative” of professionalism

Keywords: professionalism, teaching qualifications, TVET, National Certificate (Vocational)


The Green Paper (2012) and the White Paper (2013) for post-school education and training (PSET) identified the South African college sector as the sub-system targeted to undergo the greatest expansion and diversification in terms of enrolments despite acknowledgement that the sector lacked capacity to achieve acceptable levels of throughput or absorb larger student numbers. The professionalisation of college teaching staff through formal teaching qualifications became a key remedial policy focus.

Against this background, the research study on which we report investigated what professionalism means in TVET institutions where occupational expertise and workplace experience have traditionally been valued higher than formal teaching qualifications. A sample of just over 200 NC(V) teachers[i] in Business Studies and Engineering Studies participated in a mixed-method study across five provinces.

A key finding was that, although professional qualifications serve a motivational and career aspiration function for TVET teachers, professionalism as a benchmark of quality improvement requires an instiutional and curriculum framing that extends beyond credentialing.


[i] We are using TVET teachers throughout as this best corresponds with international conventions although in South Africa lecturer is preferred.

Research Articles