Technology education in South Africa since the new dispensation in 1994: An analysis of curriculum documents and a meta-synthesis of scholarly work

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Technology education was introduced as a successor to various forms of craft or technical education in some parts of the world in the 1980s. In South Africa (SA) the implementation of technology education was in more than one sense unique. Not only was it a new subject within the South African educational context, but it coincided with the dawn of a new political dispensation in which the new government favoured outcomes-based education (OBE). This has resulted in a series of curriculum documents over the past two decades which made certain demands on and held challenges for the teachers who were responsible for the implementation of technology. The purpose of this conceptual article is to investigate the demands and challenges that various curriculum documents have made on the technology teachers concerned. The research question that underpinned the research was: What were the demands and the challenges various curriculum documents had on technology teachers? The research methodology was desktop research in the form of a critical analysis of various intended or specified curriculum documents. The research also included a qualitative meta-synthesis of other scholarly work on the challenges posed by the implementation of curricula both in SA and other international contexts. The South African experience may hold important insights for ministries of education, curriculum developers and technology teachers that form part of the broader international technology fraternity. It was found that the underlying political ideology of a new government impacts and steers the country’s education in a particular direction. Soon after the dawn of the new political dispensation in SA in 1994 there was a move away from a content-based curriculum (CBC) towards an OBE curriculum. However, it was mainly contextual and practical factors at chalk level that placed major demands on and posed challenges to the implementation of a new education system, aligned with a new ideology. Due to these challenges the country now finds itself moving back towards content-based education just more than ten years later. In a developing context, in particular with insufficient logistical resources and where teachers are inadequately trained (and therefore have less competence) a more specified and fixed CBC rather than an open, flexible OBE curriculum seems more feasible. Subsequently, the effects of a CBC as opposed to an OBE curriculum in technology education need to be researched in future, specifically which approach would be conducive to a general design-driven subject or a fragmented vocationally-oriented technology subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-963
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Content-based curriculum
  • Curriculum reform
  • Outcomes-based education
  • Technology education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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