Training: policy to practice
The peak body responsible for all adult technical or further education in Queensland in Australia is called the TAFE Queensland. The body has at least six constituent bodies which are all formed for the purpose of ensuring that all people realize easy and affordable education in the state. The running of the institution is governed by policies which are frequently reevaluated to ensure their representativeness and credibility in the purpose. Among such policies which have been recently made and enforced are ‘Equal Opportunity and Inclusive Practice Procedure’ and ‘Access and Equity Procedure’. This paper, therefore, intends to analyze the two policy frameworks from the perspective of a staff at the TAFE Queensland.
‘Access and Equity Procedure’ policy
The ‘Access and Equity Procedure’ ensures that the central office and the subsequent braces provide fair as well as equitable opportunities to all the students (TAFE Queensland, 2014). Among the opportunities is access to the learning services and facilities, as well as opportunities for adjustment. Through the procedures outlined, the staffs to all TAFF Queensland constituents are empowered to be inclusive and respond to the student’s needs. Besides, the policy is intended to improve the participation of all and in the students’ (including those with disabilities) outcomes. Therefore, the policy focuses on all enrolled students and the staff within the central and constituent branches in Queensland Australia.
The general outlay of the policy framework ensures equal representation and opportunities to all regardless of physical challenges like the physical disabilities, both for teaching staff and the students. The policy is structured in responsibilities and processes to the different stakeholders like the teaching staff, the management as well as the students. The differential responsibilities are clustered depending on the position held such as the general managers, the general staff and the Chairperson to the product management authority. The general manager is responsible for approval of and implementation of plans for equitable distribution of resources for all the students within the country. Besides, the management is entitled to ensuring that all staffs are adequately prepared for delivery of services through appropriate education and training. Besides, the management is responsible for ensuring that specialized groups and priority learners are accommodated and their learning facilitated. On the other hand, the policy outlines the specific responsibilities of the staff. Among the responsibilities are that the staff must ensure no discrimination to all students and that the all learners and the prospective learners access the education services by equitable inclusion. Besides, the teaching staffs are expected to have the appropriate skills to enable them deliver adequately to the students and create an appropriate learning environment for the students while taking care of the diversity in needs. Moreover, the staffs are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that students receive relevant training for the relevant skills especially for the priority groups. Concerning the responsibility of the chairperson to the product management authority, the policy states that all the products prepared for the institution meet the diverse needs of the students and that they are suited for the needs of vocational learners and the students with specialized needs.
Through policy, the TAFF Queensland ensures that the processes embraced enhance inclusivity in the practices embraced. Through inclusivity, the policy ensures that no students are excluded from attaining and accessing the appropriate learning both through the online modules and the common physical classroom environments. Besides, the policy enhances appropriate adjustments so that students with disabilities and those without are accorded equal opportunities to participate even in co-curricular activities. On the processes, the policy framework stipulates the most appropriate tools for recruitment, enrollment and admission. The policy emphasizes to have flexible and adjustable design of the course materials as well as the assessment criteria. By the use of appropriate examples and words, the policy ensures that the teaching staff embraces non-discriminatory approaches and processes. Recruitment and enrollment procedures are required to be accommodative to all through publicizing requirements and the relevant criteria and prerequisites for process. Besides, the policy emphasizes equal access to learning materials by online learners to eliminate possible discrimination of the students as against the regular learners.
On the other hand, the policy is drafted in a manner that possible adjustments can be made to accommodate specialized students’ needs such as additional tutorials, alternative teaching and assessment as well as adjusted timeframes for assignment completion in instances of emergencies or unavoidable circumstances. Fairness, reliability and consistency in assessment criteria are emphasized by the policy and a provision is given for special consideration in extenuation circumstances. Finally, the policy is well stipulated on tools for complaints and grievances and conflict resolution for both students and the staff.
The policy document also presented has a special focus on technical terminologies used which includes disability, reasonable adjustment, diversity as well as equity. A critical evaluation of the policy outline shows that the formulation was informed by the fundamental requirements in any learning institution where justice in equality, equity and equitable distribution of resources should be realized. The analysis of vocational educational training and such other forms of adult education are involved; there is the need to develop a comprehensive policy. The policy on ‘Access and Equity Procedure’ presented by the TAFE Queensland is, therefore, holistic in the approach of the general needsof the adult learning in the country as facilitated by the various constituents of the body.
Besides the policy development, the institution has been in the forefront in enforcing the policy, and creating an enabling environment for the participation of all stakeholders in the implementation of the policy. First, the policy is centered on enabling all eligible persons to access quality and affordable education by ensuring that no discrimination in any form is condoned. Through the policy, different systems of learning are embraced either through the online platform as well as through the system of physical classrooms. By embracing the platforms, TAFE Queensland ensures that the needs of distance learners are met without necessarily attending the physical classes by accessing all the necessary learning materials and assessments through the internet.
On the other hand, the policy is drafted in such a way that it brings about social justice and equity by ensuring that inclusivity of all people is honored. Often, policies fall short of the fundamental right of being representative and ensuring that people are not discriminated against on the basis of their gender, social status, and physical status or even on the basis of the capacity to understand. Individualism is highly discouraged by the policy as all stakeholders are directly engaged in the implementation of the policy. The success of the efforts of the management team is evaluated on the basis of success by the staff in delivering the content while the outcome of students’ assessment illustrates the overall applicability of the policy.
From an implementation point of view, I have been involved in the process ever since the policy was approved in 2014 and the whole process has been a success. The productivity of the staff, as evaluated through the student performance, has gone up commendably while student enrollment has been increasing ever since. The enrollment for specialized programs by the students with specialized need has drastically increased with equal opportunities being availed to such students just as are availed to the students otherwise termed as normal. Moreover, the policy has led to tripling effect to the students enrolled in the online learning, both from within the state in the entire country. Dedication by and motivation to all stakeholders have been shown as the most effective tools associated with the effective implementation of the policy within the TAFE Queensland affiliated institutions in Australia. On the other hand, the procedures observed in staffing and enrollment of students ensure that all diversity within the society are embraced, especially as pertains to the access of goods, services and equitable participation in the community and workplace at large. Equity also ensures that the members of the society and community are evenly engaged in opportunities brought about by the vocational education as well as training. The resources that are therefore provided by TAFE Queensland must therefore be free of discrimination and bias. There has also been a procedural and environmental alteration by which persons with any form of disabilities are enabled to access opportunities for education and participate in the vocational education and training with ease just as other members of the society. Physical disabilities in the form of diseases and physical disfiguration or general impairment have also been adequately considered in the policy and the implementation procedures. The policy, therefore, presents great potential in revolutionizing the entire system of vocational training and education in the Queensland area of Australia.
‘Equal Opportunity and Inclusive Practice, Procedure’ policy
The policy is primarily concerned with providing the TAFE Queensland regional and central offices with the capacity to promote diversity, to respect, as well as, present equal opportunities, rights, as well as, responsibilities to staff and students (TAFE Queensland, 2014). The procedure in general is meant to facilitate the TAFE Queensland embrace cultural diversity among the students and the staff. The cultural diversity alluded to in the procedure is that of the organizational rights, the students’ rights, the staff rights as well as responsibilities.
The procedure identifies and respects that all the staff and students have undeniable rights in treating and being treated well by others and work and study within a discrimination and harassment free environment. The policy also ensures that the educational program is accessible to all community members irrespective of gender, class, cultural background, ethnicity and even disability. Such needs have necessitated the TAFE Queensland to ensure that individual students’ needs or learning requirements are matched to learning environment and facilities. The procedure is therefore applied to all the students and staff of TAFE Queensland in Australia.
The policy follows the process of ensuring that individual rights are observed and that the inclusive environment and culture are promoted. It outlines the procedures through which the students’ and staff’s rights are protected. First, the procedure embraces education and training for creating awareness among the TAFE Queensland community on their rights. Frequent reviews on the procedures and practices of the policy to ensure that it is non-discriminatory and inclusive as intended are also outlined in the policy. Finally, the procedures are definite on tools to be used for handling grievances and resolving disputes. For an environment and inclusive culture, the TAFE Queensland policy procedure stipulates that it will enable staff to advance and develop professionally through practice, ensure that the staffs are managed fairly for career development as well as ensuring that all students receive fair treatment and that services are student oriented.
The policy framework created an institution within which the values of equity, diversity, inclusivity in teaching, non-discrimination and non-harassment are observed. According to the policy, the diversity in the form of social and human differences in a population as affecting accessibility to goods/services or participation in learning or teaching are catered for. Equity in the principle ensures that all members of the community have access to the vocational education and training and the associated benefits without impartiality and ensuring that fairness is observed. The process of learning must be observed to allow all potential and willing students without prejudice. The policy, therefore ensures that all goods and resources relevant in education are provided at affordable fees and that no discrimination or bias is allowed to access by the community. Inclusivity, on the other hand, is ensured by shifting the focus of teaching from mere content to the context of teaching as well as to the environment in which learning takes place. Through the policy, teaching the disabled is viewed from the perspective that the disability is not necessarily physically but also environmentally. Accordingly, the emphasis is overcoming the disabilities with the enabling environment as a mainstream practice for the vocational education as well as training in Australia.
By definition, the policy explains discrimination as the opportunity where one person is treated unfavorably or less equally to another person or persons. Such happens because of a person’s skin color, sex, ethnicity, cultural affiliation, age, disability, disease, religion, sexual orientation and such other factors. Accordingly, the policy borrows much from the constitution of Australia in ensuring that no discrimination whatsoever thrives both by and towards the students and the teaching and management staff. On the other hand, an equal right provided for by the sovereign constituting of Australia is that against harassment of individuals and the policy has been founded on the same. The policy clearly states that whenever a person, whether a teacher and or a student is exposed to some form of intimidation, insults, or even physical assault as a result of own color, race, nationality, sex, sexual preference as well as disability, then the person can be said to be harassed. Under such, the policy framework, as instituted, is clear and opposes any form of such harassment both to and from the staff as well as the students to create a favorable learning environment.
After the implementation of the policy within TAFE Queensland in 2014, great success in streamlining the vocational learning has been noted. The effectiveness has been assessed through comparing the inclusivity procedures observed before the implementation of the policy as well as after the policy implementation. First, it can be argued that after the implementation, higher diversity in the representation of the staff as well as the students have been achieved in vocational learning in Queensland Australia. Besides, through training and awareness creation, the community, the students and the staff have been enabled to understand their rights as presented by the policies and the sovereign constitution. Fairness in treatment and overcoming discriminatory and harassing environment are primary concerns of the policy and which the policy has effectively dealt with since its imposition.
I have been involved in the implementation of the policy and can note that the policy has been instrumental in shaping the current vocational training and education environment in Queensland. Previously, the vocational training had a lot of prejudices, especially due to differences in cultural affiliation caused by aboriginal groups of people seeking refuge in the country. While the services were not initially meant to seclude any group of people, either indigenous and the foreigners, the stigma associated with discrimination threatened to disillusion many of potential students and staff hence the relevance of the policy as drafted and enforced. Almost one year after the policy was enacted; there is tremendous change that can be pointed out in enrollment rates of students, both online and through the traditional classroom setup. Besides, more people in the community, the school staff and the students have become more alert and aware of own rights as compared to the traditional period.
Facilitation of classroom implementation has not been as tedious as could have been expected, especially when the right approaches are embraced. When the students are enlightened on their rights, the implementation of the policy could not have been any challenging. Students and the teaching staff embraced the policy and at their respective capacities strived to ensure that it is followed to the latter. Proper interpretation and following of the policies result in greater gains socially and economically.
It is almost obvious that educational empowerment enables people to become economically dependent as they engage in higher levels of productivity when compared to the previous status of being uneducated. Education enables people to reason from a point of information when studying or even when engaging in economically productive activities. Often, when such vices as discrimination and harassment are leveled against a group of people, the self-esteem is lowered which then results to underperformance and underproduction. One must therefore appreciate that enlightenment through community awareness and through education is fundamental for the development of any community and for individuals. Whenever such educational policies are drafted, they are required to be tried against already existing policies to evaluate on their improvement and possible weaknesses aiming at realizing the full benefits from the new policy. Policy guidelines created for institutional improvement as it is the case with the two policies discussed should ensure that they relate to or are aligned to constitutional provisions so as to avoid potential conflicts. Aligning the policy guidelines with the constitutional frameworks ensures that imposition of the same is backed by the government and that people could be highly enlightened on the constitutional provisions hence ease in implementation of the same.
In conclusion, therefore, the two policies evaluated have been created and imposed within the Queensland state in Australia since 2014 and have been quite elaborate on the provisions and procedures towards improving quality and accessibility of vocational training and education. Equity in accessing on procedure and inclusivity in practice has been the main focus of the policies. Over the little time that the policies have been imposed on the sector, significant changes have been noted especially through enlightening the community and the students together with the staff. Nevertheless, improvement of institutional frameworks in enforcing the policies is required to realize the full potential from the policies in Vocational training and education.
TAFE Queensland. (2014). Access and Equity Procedure. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://tafeqld.edu.au/resources/pdf/about-us/policies-procedures/teaching-and-learning/Access-and-Equity-Procedure.pdf
TAFE Queensland. (2014). Equal Opportunity and Inclusive Practice Procedure. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://tafeqld.edu.au/resources/pdf/about-us/policies-procedures/teaching-and-learning/Equal-Opportunity-and-Inclusive-Practice-Procedure.pdf