Assessing fundamental unit standards causes problems



Marietta van Rooyen

SAQA published a paper in May 2005 on the way quality assurance for fundamental unit standards needs to be done. The paper proposes a model to address the issue of decontextualised fundamental components of qualifications and how these will be quality assured.

It also addresses the lack of capacity to deliver this quality assurance and tries to clarify the matter of evolving partnerships to do this quality assurance in the education and training arena. In the spirit of this publication we want to discuss some of the problems we have come across regarding this matter.

The preferred approach providers and ETQAs need to take towards fundamentals in a qualification is that of holistic, integrated delivery and assessment of the qualification.

This means that the fundamentals are to be delivered and assessed within the context of the rest of the qualification (core and electives) and that these fundamentals be fully integrated into the teaching, learning and assessment.

Some accredited providers avoid the issue of fundamentals by not offering them during the delivery of a full qualification forming part of a learnership or a learning programme.

Learners are then issued credits towards a qualification in stead of a certificate. They are often left to scramble to find their own providers for the fundamental. This will obviously mean that there will be no holistic, integrated approach.

Many ETQAs do not have the capacity to quality assure languages, communication and mathematics, and have appointed providers specializing in fundamentals to do this on their behalf.

Those providers who do integrate the fundamentals into the learning and assessment are now finding that the quality agents used by ETQAs are not able to understand the integrated approach and are insisting on separate interventions to teach language, communication and mathematics, together with separate assessments.

One such a provider came to ask my advice about this problem. He has spent a lot of time and money getting in an expert in fundamentals to integrate the specific outcomes into the context of the core and electives. They can show exactly where these outcomes are covered and where they are assessed.

Yet the quality assurance agent to whom the ETQA outsourced this task will not accept the integrated material and are insisting on it being explicit and separate.

What recourse does this provider have and where should he go for assistance? The ETQA says their provider is the expert, so they stand by them. The provider will not budge. Must he now spend more money and time doing this and getting it wrong from a SAQA perspective?

I will follow the case and let you know how this was resolved.

Read more about this in the SAQA paper called: The Quality Assurance of Fundamental Components of Qualifications. 3rd draft as on 11/05/05