Revisiting VET research paradigms: Critical perspectives from the South

Article Authors: David Monk, Palesa Molebatsi, Simon McGrath, Luke Metelerkamp, Scovia Adrupio, George Openjuru, Glen Robbins, Themba Tshabalala


This paper reflects on a large multisite funded VET research project conducted by a large and diverse research team. Reflecting on two of our case studies, from Uganda and South Africa, we consider both the need for broadening the VET research agenda to incorporate more research on non-formal sites of vocational learning and work, and the imperative of continued critical reflection on modalities of researching the formal sphere. What we offer is a very fallible attempt to open up the debate about the future of VET research further through, we believe, a critical reading of some of our failures as well as successes in trying to ground our research ethically, ontologically and axiologically and not just methodologically. We advocate, where possible, a radical embeddedness of VET research in communities, whilst acknowledging that this is applicable only to some parts of a comprehensive VET research agenda. We also acknowledge that employers and the state are also legitimate stakeholders who should be part of research but point to the need for a more critical reflection into the patterns of power implicit in researching with/on these constituencies. We believe that our reflection on our successes and failures in these two cases and the project as a whole offers useful provocations regarding ways of making VET research more reflective of diverse settings, less extractive from those being researched and more equal in the participation of members of the research team from the South.

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