Exploring the (K)not of Relationship between Lecturers and Management at a Historically Black University: The Lecturer's Perspective

By May, Michelle S.; Cilliers, Frans et al. | SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Exploring the (K)not of Relationship between Lecturers and Management at a Historically Black University: The Lecturer's Perspective


May, Michelle S., Cilliers, Frans, van Deventer, Vasie, SA Journal of Industrial Psychology


Introduction

According to Enslin (1990) education:

'is inescapably political, nowhere is it more starkly so than in South Africa where the educational system is at once a cornerstone of the apartheid system and a primary site of struggle against it.' (p. 77)

The historically Black and White universities in South Africa were shaped by apartheid policies (Abdi, 2003). Within this complex socio-political context, this research project studied how lecturers at historically Black universities (HBU) were confronted with unresolved experiences concerning their relationship with management. On the one hand lecturers experienced violent interactions with students during which they were manhandled by students. On the other hand lecturers perceived passivity from management when they were threatened with violence by students in social and academic settings. When lecturers asked management to discipline certain unruly students, they received no reaction from management. Thus, socio-historical factors and the experiences between students, lecturers and management are pertinent to this research. The experiences of lecturers at a historically Black university are pertinent; in particular the relationship between lecturers and management.

By exploring and describing the relationship between lecturers and management from the lecturers' perspective, using the systems psychodynamic (SP) perspective (Campbell & Huffington, 2008; Cytrynbaum & Noumair, 2004), the awareness of the lecturers' conscious and unconscious experiences at the HBU was developed. These unconscious dynamics can then be used by lecturers, management and other stakeholders in tertiary institutions to form an in-depth understanding of conscious and unconscious dynamics, that impacted the relationship between lecturers and management in the HBU specifically, and universities in general currently.

The South African educational landscape

The education systems that existed more than 300 years ago were effective and addressed the need of the African population (Abdi, 2003). In 1652 the European settlers brought a colonial education impacting the existing education system. Three distinct phases of (colonial) educational policy are identified between 1652 and 1880, firstly religiously focused educational practice and policies which supported the Dutch East Indian Company, secondly schooling that was locally controlled and state aided and thirdly the centralisation of education under departments of education and superintendents of education. From 1940 to 1980 a fundamental pedagogy was implemented by the National Party government to institutionalise apartheid education. The purpose of this education system was to develop a workforce for separate homeland governments, workers for a small Black middle class and workers for the civil service of the apartheid government. In the current education landscape stakeholders aim to provide an integrated system of education and training, through education policy, that provides opportunities to all South Africans (May, 2010).

The educational system up to the 1980s can be considered a deliberate programme of educational, economic and sociocultural underdevelopment for Black people. Simultaneously, the educational system can also be seen as a place where stakeholders were able to express dissatisfaction with the oppression and domination that existed at the time. In the HBU students protested against management and lecturers, who were mainly White, as agents of an oppressive state. Black lecturers and management were also mistrusted by the students (Abdi, 2003).

The legacy of this education system has continued and has impacted the relationship between students, lecturers and management. The lecturers' experiences in the HBU are more clearly understood by exploring the transactions, as described by the lecturers, between lecturers and management from the SP perspective. Some thought should be given to how these unconscious dynamics reverberate into current tertiary institutions. …

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