Implementing Educational Innovations: The case of the Secondary School Curriculum Diversification Programme in Lesotho
Mgijima-Msindwana, Mirriam Miranda Nomso
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Between 1974 and 1982 the MOE introduced in two phases the diversification programme [SSCDP] which sought to establish practical subjects in the secondary school curriculum. This study examines the sustainability of implementation efforts beyond project expiry. It was hypothesised that SSCDP is not working as originally intended. The broad research problem was framed thus: What implementation response arises from an open-ended innovation policy? Subsidiary questions are: 1. How far have the policy-makers communicated the meaning of SSCDP and what factors account for mismatches between policy intentions and innovation practice? 2. What is the response of Project schools and what factors explain variation in response? 3. What is their significance for the sustainability of SSCDP? The analysis draws key concepts from the innovation literature on models and strategies of planned change; relationships in the implementation hierarchy; determinants of and orientations to the implementation process. Centred around qualitative research methods, the investigation utilises data from project documents, semi-structured interviews and from observations during school visits. Findings show an overall low level of implementation that varies among project schools. This is attributed to: Poor interpretation of SSCDP goals; Deficiencies in the implementation management; Idiosyncratic school behaviours. The study concludes that the 'practitioner-policy-maker' discrepancy is significant, hence the gap between policy intents and innovation practice. The gap is not regarded so much as an ultimate failure of the programme but as a necessary condition that allows for mutual adaptation between the innovation and its setting. This is reflected in the varied patterns of implementation response, classified as the: faithful; negotiators; selective adaptors; expansionists; and reductionist. As a policy-oriented study aiming at providing an 'improvement value', the findings lead to a proposal of improvements in the strategies of managing change in three areas: shifting focus from an adoption to an implementation perspective. Recognising implementation as a process dependent on a mutual linkage relationship among participants. Recognising schools as important bearers of change. These three are crucial factors in the implementation-sustainability relationship.