The State must play its part


Marietta van Rooyen, Executive Chair: Assessment College

The state has a duty and responsibility to make it possible for people to comply with the law. If this duty is neglected, the effect on both the public and the economy can be very detrimental.

For example, these days, getting an appointment to arrange for a pre-licensing appointment for vehicle license tests is a major challenge. Many people just give up and start driving without the license, or bribe their way through.

This duty of the state is apparently taken seriously by the Departments of Education and Labour. Thus the spate of new education and training legislation that is now going through parliamentarian processes.

Some of the existing problems are actually addressed by the new legislation, but some glaring problems and issues are still standing.

One of the problems that will be solved by the new legislation is the present onerous accreditation process for providers which will be replaced with a "soft touch? approach.

Another is the splitting of academic and occupational education and training to address the impasse between the two departments involved.

However, two examples of problems that are not addressed by the new legislation are the conflicts in the legislative arena and ineffective information technology systems in NQF structural bodies.

Learners and providers have been paying a high premium due to these problem issues not being solved.

Different Acts from the Department of Education contradict each other. For example, the SAQA Act requires accreditation of providers to be done by any ETQA. The Higher Education Act requires that providers need to be registered with the DOE and accredited with two specific ETQAs.

The DOE insists that they will only recognise accreditation with the two ETQAs associated with that Department. Accreditation with professional bodies and SETAs is thus not valid for registration purposes.

Yet, these ETQAs admit that neither of them is equipped to accredit occupational qualifications as offered in the workplace. The crunch comes when we now need to get accreditation for SAA who trains high level pilots in a workplace that does not conform to the criteria of a university.

This problem is as yet not addressed in the new legislation, and will thus just be perpetuated in the next system.

The ineffective accreditation systems in the NQF structures may be addressed in the new legislation, but the onerous uploading of data into the learning information systems remain.

We have numerous examples of ETQA learner management systems that are dysfunctional and ineffective. This causes delays in the systems that detrimentally affect learners and providers. Sometimes these blockages hold to ransom the entire system.

At present these systems are situated at various ETQA sites. Some of these are working better than others. What guarantees do we have that a centralised MIS at the QCTO will be more effective?

Conclusion: Rushing through the legislation without wide consultation and real interrogation of the consequences can prove to pose huge problems in the systems (once again).