Access, barriers to participation and success amongst mature adult students at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college in the Western Cape
Larke, Sylvia Phillipine
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Insights into the experiences of students at TVET colleges can inform policies and practices. This paper focuses on an investigation into students’ experiences of access, and barriers to participation, and success at a TVET college in the Western Cape. I mainly used the theories by Margaret Archer (2003), Anthony Giddens (1979; 1984), Albert Bandura (1989; 2001; 2006), Steven Hitlin and Glen H. Elder (2006), Kjell Rubenson and Richard Desjardins (2009), and K. Patricia Cross (1981) related to structure and agency to analyse my data. Data was collected from interviews with the exit level students at a TVET college who are registered for a National Certificate (Vocational) programme. The evidence of this qualitative research revealed that students experience several institutional, dispositional and situational barriers, but find ways of overcoming these in order to complete their studies successfully. Findings show that elements of ‘agency’ such as ‘intentionality’ ‘forethought’ and self-reflectiveness are prevalent in the ways that students overcome barriers. The findings further revealed that the majority of participants accessed vocational education at a TVET college to improve their lives with the desire and intention to study further. This study generally suggests that intentionality and resilience, amongst other factors, are important elements of agency and are used to explain and interpret the positive relationship between agency, barriers to participation and success.