Chikasanda, V., Otrel-Cass, K. & Jones, A. (2011). Teachers’ views about technical education: implications for reforms towards a broad based technology curriculum in Malawi. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 21(3), 363-379.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5886
Internationally there has been concern about the direction of technical education and how it is positioned in schools. This has also been the case in Malawi where the curriculum has had a strong focus on skills development. However, lately there has been a call for enhancing technological literacy of students, yet little support has been provided for teachers to achieve this goal. This paper reports from a wider study that looked at teachers’ existing views and practices in technical education in Malawi. The article focuses on the findings from interviews that were conducted with six secondary school teachers to find out about their understanding of the meaning and rationale for technical education. It is also discussed how the teachers view technical education as involving skills development for making things and their thoughts on the benefits of such knowledge. It is argued that teachers’ views about technical education were strongly linked to the goals of the curriculum vacationalization policies adopted at the dawn of political independence. Besides skills training they saw the potential to impart thinking skills related to design and problem solving, and the need for essential pedagogical techniques to support learning in technical education. Examination requirements, inadequate opportunities to conduct practical activities and a lack of supportive policy were seen as limiting factors. This article claims that teachers’ views were shaped by their expectations and beliefs about the nature of technical education and what they perceived students may gain from such learning. Their views were also influenced by contextual factors which may have implications on reforms towards broader notions of technology education.