Learning from the Australian training system

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Marietta van Rooyen


While in Australia last month, I visited the Director, Quality Assurance Services of the New South Wales Department of Education, Ms Margaret Willis. I was referred to Margaret by the Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory Board (AQFAB). AQFAB is the body responsible for facilitating and monitoring the Australian Qualifications Framework.

The purpose of my visit was to find out more about the Australian approach to moderation and assessment. Margaret proved to be a well informed and very generous source of information. We had some lively discussions around the need for moderation and the quality assurance of registered training organizations, both public and private. She also supplied me with information and policy documents. The following is an extract from these discussions and from some of the information I was given.

Margaret and I discussed a variety of issues relevant to the South African system at this stage. I gained a great deal of insight through this discussion and realized once again that one can learn so much from the experience of other countries and systems.

One of the topics of discussion was the accreditation of providers. Margaret explained that academic institutions like universities have their own quality systems in Australia and are evaluated in a different way to vocational training institutions which include some large industry enterprises. She also felt it would be inappropriate for academics to evaluate work place training as the imperatives and dynamics are totally different. The standards for State and Territory Registering Course Accrediting Bodies as well as the standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are clearly spelled out, together with an evidence guide for use by RTOs and their auditors.

Another topic that came up was the fundamental subjects included in our qualifications. In Australian vocational education the emphasis is on work place competencies and does not include the fundamentals unless they are essential to the occupation. Margaret said it would be easy enough for those who wanted to attend higher education to first attend a TAFE College to get access. Why must all the learners be subjected to the discipline of obtaining entry into higher education institutions if only a few are really going to need it? This debate often crops up in South Africa these days.

The Department of Education of Western Australia came up with some excellent publications on assessment and moderation issues, including

  • examples of best practice,
  • continuous improvement of assessment, and
  • a trouble-shooting guide for assessment.

    I am planning a workshop for assessors and moderators, where we can study these documents and see how we can learn from them in South African assessment practices. (See below)

    It is clear that we need to have more collegial and professional liaison with other countries and Australia seems to be one of the countries we can learn a lot from. On reading about the issues and problems cropping up in the AQTF it is clear that we face the same kind of issues here, and we might as well learn from each other when it comes to solving problems and overcoming obstacles.

    CPD Workshop

    One day workshop on Assessment and Moderation Issues: Information and lessons learned in Sydney, as referred to by Marietta in this newsletter. This workshop will focus on some excellent publications the Department of Education of Western Australia came up with including:
  • examples of best practice,
  • continuous improvement of assessment, and
  • a trouble-shooting guide for assessment.

    We will also see how we can learn from them in South African assessment practices.

    Date: Wednesday, 24 May 2006

    Time: 09h00 - 15h30

    Venue: Midrand

    RSVP before 17 May to An-Mari at 011 678 0126 or
    [email protected]

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