List of Keynote and Plenary Papers
(Click on the author's name to go to the abstract.)
Author: T. A. Balogun, Science Education Department, National University of Lesotho
Title: Educational research and quality of life: A science education perspective
It is posited that the goals of education everywhere are ultimately about quality of life. Science (pure and applied) education is particularly well placed in this regard, because its effects have, arguably, been towards the greatest improvement of the quality of life of humankind.
Educational research is basically designed to discover accurate information that enables us to better describe, explain, control or distinguish the wood from the forest of the educational practice. The expectations are that its outcomes will lead to efficiency and effectiveness in education. However, discussions about "quality" involve the issue of the relativity of values.
In education, additional difficulties are about acceptable expectations and/or criteria or effects, and more especially - difficulty in linking differences in learning or changes in behaviour to instructional strategy/programme etc. Nonetheless, it will be generally agreed that variables that influence educational quality derive from the three major elements of any instructional system - the instructor, the instructee, and the teaching learning environment.
A qualitative educational outcome will include the greatest personal development, the best possible preparation for life, and the most satisfactory adjustment to social and cultural conditions. The paper will identify the types of educational research that can promote quality in science education and life.
Author: Cooper Dawson, Education Specialist
Title: The Swaziland Experience in Basic Education and Qualitv: A Discussion Paper
This paper is intended for the 7th biennial BOLESWA Symposium on the theme "Educational Research for Quality of Life", hosted by SERA, at the University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni.
The paper addresses two objectives of the symposium, which are to explore and describe the link between:
Swaziland's experience in working towards quality improvement in basic education is examined over 30 years. A number of questions are addressed. How does one bridge the gap between a way of life, ideas, educational planning and policy-making? How does one address the "quality of life?" How does one forge the link in a meaningful way; how does one then conceive and develop manageable projects and programmes? And finally, how does one make this process and linkage meaningful to lay persons, and to specialists and generalists in education, alike?
The paper explores how education, research and policy are interlinked in their quest for quality improvements; and how they are all woven into the fabric of quality of life. It describes the interplay between research and action, and the interplay between the macro issues, where policy-making is likened to "clearing space," and the micro determinants of effective schools, likened to "filling space.
The paper looks at some fundamental features of reform and concludes with a summary of lessons learned. It suggests that a focus on changing behaviours and attitudes through providing essential learning skills, and basic learning content, will improve quality of life. No formula for policy-making and planning quality of education is given, but what happens in individual schools is highlighted.
The human condition, and development experience, are such that it takes time for new perceptions and new ideas to percolate through the porous layers of everyday life. The percolation process, often mystifying, often painful, and often exhilarating, takes its own shape and its own form. Swaziland's experience in working towards quality improvement in basic education presents such a profile over 30 years. On reflection, the experience is very positive and very encouraging. This paper intends to explore how education, research and policy are inter-linked in their quest for quality improvements; and how they are all woven into the fabric of quality of life.
The theme chosen for this year's symposium is challenging. How does one bridge the gap between a way of life, ideas, educational planning and policy-making? How does one address that nebulous concept "quality of life?" How does one forge the link in a meaningful way; how does one then conceive and develop manageable projects and programmes? And finally, how does one make this process, and linkage, meaningful to lay persons, and to specialists and generalists in education, alike? The challenge is especially complicated when painted against a background of underdevelopment and its consequences: ignorance, poverty and disease.
Authors: J Joseph & R L Monobe, University of Venda
Title: Educational research for quality of life - reality or utopia? The University of Venda experience.
There is quite a lot of research going on in the School of Education, University of Venda. Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) students have to submit a mini-dissertation as part of their. degree; students registering for Master of Education (M.Ed.) by coursework also submit a mini-dissertation. Some students do M.Ed. by thesis. Academic staff regularly present their research findings at national and international conferences and submit their papers to educational journals.
The questions raised in this paper are:
(a) how much of this research is relevant to raising the quality of life; and,
(b) what effort is put into implementing the research findings to improve the standard of education which in turn reflect on the quality of life of our people.
The researchers would like to demonstrate that though a number of extremely relevant Issues are researched and very practical solutions round to improve the educational system, little or no effort is made to apply the research findings to improve the quality of life. This paper tries to address the implementation aspect of educational research findings.
Author: A/Prof H. Johnson Nenty, Institute of Education, National University of Lesotho
Title: Link Among Education, Research, Educational Research, and Quality of Life
Etymologically, the mission of education is to 'lead forth and 'cause to develop' the good that is latent in every child, hence education is often defined as the process of identifying and ensuring desirable changes in human behaviour. For teachers to do a successful job at ensuring these desirable changes, they have to be equipped with the knowledge of human behaviour. Hence human behaviour must first of all be identified, studied, and understood. Doing this involves finding out the truth about, or creating knowledge of human behaviour, which is the job of educational research.
The assumption is that each child has, at least one useful potential which if validly 'led forth and 'caused to develop' will make him successful in life. For a large majority of children this unique potential is never identified, let alone developed. Just like it is through scientific research, material resources are discovered and developed for the enhancement of quality of life, human resources are expected to be identified, studied and understood through educational research and developed through instruction for the same purpose.
But the identification and development of human potential on its own is not only necessary for the maximisation of quality of life, but also essential for the study, identification and development of available material resources, hence it is a necessary and sufficient condition for the enhancement of quality of life.
Author: Prof. B. Otaala
Title: Educational research and quality of life in Eastern and Southern Africa
Author: Prof Ilse E Plattner, University of Namibia
Title: Education to self assertiveness - a prerequisite for quality of life
Usually quality of life is associated with material and financial prosperity. Of course a guarantee of basic needs for a tolerable life has to be given, but quality of life depends also on self-determination, to have the ability to shape one's own life. However, people in eastern and southern African regions still today carry the burden of colonialism and its view of Africans as underprivileged.
According to Social Psychology, the self-image is influenced by the image others have of the self, and the "black inferiority complex" has been thematized often enough. To finally say good bye to these stereotypes and to become independent from western donors, self-confidence, self-esteem end self-assertiveness of African societies as well as of individual persons will be an essential prerequisite. For this, education plays a crucial role. But in school curricula an emphasis on self-assertiveness is absent; authoritarian styles of teaching, didactic and discriminating marking systems are preventing self-confidence, self-esteem and self-assertiveness of young people, those generations for future societies.
Especially in the Southern African regions, educational programs have to implement the promotion of these psychological concepts self-confidence, self-esteem end self-assertiveness to enable people to say "no" to their unsatisfactory living conditions and to contribute pro-actively to their own quality of life.
Author: Prof. Milton E Ploghoft, Ohio University
Title: Research quality: Implications of information technology
Educational research, as in other fields of empirical inquiry, depends heavily upon information and communication. The information "explosion" presents a formidable challenge to researchers who must now search more widely and delve more deeply into the data bases and literature that relate to their investigations.
Information technology has led, also, to an enormous expansion of the "communities" of scholars that are both producers and consumers of the results of research. The evaluation and criticisms of their work by the International community is a concern of researchers today. Quality research today requires that modem scholars use information technology to access relevant sources of information and to solicit expert criticism of their methodologies, their findings and the conclusions which they have drawn.
Considerable progress has been made in providing hardware and connectivity, but the most formidable challenge to effective uses of information technology involves the lack of supporting organisational structures, the absence of intensive programs of faculty development and the reticence of the academic community to embrace information technology as appropriate for their work.
Recent initiatives, including the African Virtual University project of the World Bank, will be presented as examples that may point the way to improved quality of research through the applications of information exchange technology.
Author: Dr. Janet S Stuart, University of Sussex, U.K.
Title: How research into the professional education and training curriculum for teachers can help improve the quality of life in teachers colleges and schools
The pattern of teacher training/teacher education in most parts of the world seems to change very slowly, and not always for reasons based on good research. In the industrialised countries of the North there have been recent attempts at reform, some prompted by economics or market ideology, others by practical considerations, a few by conceptual critique or research findings. As has been pointed out, much of this has been tinkering, resulting in some restructuring but little reconceptualisation. In the anglophone countries of Southern Africa the picture is mixed. Some countries still base their training curriculum on the colonial pattern inherited at independence. But the abolition of apartheid in Namibia and South Africa has promoted a wholesale rethink, leading to some exciting developments. However, there were few locally-relevant research findings on which to base them.
This paper will review some of the recent changes in teacher education in both North and South, and pinpoint areas that should, and could, be researched so that future changes are firmly grounded in good practice. It will outline a multi-site comparative study of Teacher Education programmes which is being planned in collaboration between the Centre for International Education at Sussex University in England, and six partner institutions, five of which are in Africa.
The proposed research will be looking at three main areas:
Participants at the Symposium will be invited to comment and, if willing, to join in the project. Such research should deepen our knowledge and understanding of what goes on in Teachers Colleges and how the quality of teaching in schools can be improved, leading to enhancement of quality of life for both teachers and pupils.
Author: Dr C D Yandila, University of Botswana
Title: Review of the role of the association of African universities and how best regional research associations can benefit from its operations
The Association of African Universities (AAU) was established in 1967. Its major objectives were:
(I) to promote interchange, contact and cooperation among university institutions in Africa;
(ii) to collect, classify and disseminate information on higher education and research, particularly in Africa;
(iii) to promote cooperation among African institutions in curriculum development and in the determination of equivalence of degrees;
(iv) to encourage increased contact between its members and related needs of African world;
(v) to study, and make known the educational and related needs of African university institutions and, as far as practicable, to coordinate the means whereby those needs may be met;
(vi) to encourage the development and wider use of African Languages;
(vii) to organize, encourage the development and wider use of African university teachers, administrators and others dealing with problems of higher education in Africa.
This paper reviews the extent to which the AAU has met its objectives, particularly in the SADC region and presents views of African scholars on how best the Association can play important roles in regional Education Research Associations such as BOLESWA improves its quality of life.
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