The democratisation of education in South Africa reflects a worldwide phenomenon.
Coupled with democratisation is the demand for institutional accountability with
regard to learner success and support. Regulating authorities such as the
Departments of Education and Higher Education, therefore expect training
institutions to establish and maintain student support services to assist learners in the
successful completion of their studies.
As a recognised and accredited education and training service provider, the South
African Police Service is therefore required not only to train its employees but also to
accept responsibility for the success of its learners.
The purpose of this research study is to explore whether or not existing SAPS learner
support services rendered to trainees during basic police training are regarded by
trainees as valuable and effective. The findings of the study should assist the SAPS
in determining areas in which it could improve these services to ensure the success
of all its trainees.
For the purposes of this study learner support is defined as a comprehensive and
rigorous system supporting learning through the provision of a broad spectrum of
services (academic and non-academic) that are meant to enable learners to optimise
their learning experience.
The constructivist learning theory was adopted as the theoretical framework for the
study. The research design utilised was survey research, and the data collection
instrument was a questionnaire. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire as
well as the validity of the constructs utilised were confirmed by means of tests
relevant to this purpose. The sample used was representative of the learner
population in the SAPS and the response could be classified as very good.
The most important findings of this research study were that the learners participating
in the research experienced the learner support services they received as
useful/helpful and timely rendered. While the results of the frequency tests suggest
the existence of some conflicting findings with regard to the usefulness/helpfulness
and timeliness of the services rendered it was therefore be concluded that learners
who utilised the services found them satisfactory.
Overall, it was found that learner support services were regarded as important and
generally delivered on time. The instrument, and the large number of respondents
involved in the generation of data, ensured a refined analysis of the data. Based on
the analysis it was possible to identify specific academies where the provisioning of
learner support was more advanced than others. It was also possible to identify
specific aspects regarding learner support that could be strengthened, such as
Library Services. The research indicates that the SAPS could target certain aspects
of its support services and academies for improvement.
This study concluded by recommending a learner support model for the South
African Police Service.