DISRUPTION IMAGEIn a response to a contribution on Thursday last week Sylvia Hammond mentioned a number of disruptive activities that is causing serious damage to all private learning providers, such as making use of anyone else’s training material or intellectual property without the permission of the originator, obtaining material and not paying for it, employing facilitators and not paying for their services, taking money and not providing the materials or service. This made me decide to write about something that has been bothering me for a long time already.

I am currently reading a book with the title How South Africa Works and Must do Better, written by Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills. They wrote that, when unhappy, trade unions strike, the government make new laws and businesses invest offshore and stop employing people. In a nutshell, everybody seems to use disruption to get their way.

This article is about how disruption impacts on the achievement of National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and National Development Plan (NDP) strategic objectives and how role players in ETD misuse and protect themselves against the disruption.

It is not wrong to use disruption to gain a competitive advantage. However, what is wrong is when the disruption creates more damage than good for the community.

Today many new businesses gain a competitive advantage by offering their customers a new and different business experience. They often use new technology while at the same time setting new standards for expectations, conditioning customers to think differently, thereby offering them a new experience. This is constructive disruption. What we often have is destructive disruption.

The unit standard-based occupational learning qualifications are being replaced by curriculum-based qualifications. So far the new curriculums that I saw are most certainly not an improvement on the old ones. Furthermore, the concept of having learning providers do formative assessment while external bodies are made responsible for summative assessment can, in my opinion, destroy occupational learning in South Africa.

Some private providers and SETAs misuse the confusion about the education and training system to gain a monopoly in certain fields of learning for themselves. For example, private providers will arrange workshops or communicate directly with their clients, telling them that current qualifications are no longer valid and that they offer the replacements, even though the new curriculums are not even registered yet. Or they will disregard the credits for qualifications and offer a one year qualification in 21 days because they know the quality assurance bodies (do they still exist?) can and will do nothing to stop them. Or they “invent” new learning programmes by grouping a number of valid and expired unit standards together and then calling it a fancy name.

It looks like quality assurance bodies sometimes use disruption to dodge doing their work. Applications for accreditation are lost, they deny ever receiving it, ask for the same materials again, set new criteria halfway through the process, give negative feedback without even reading the applications. Accreditation, that should not take longer than five days, takes as many as five years.

Then there are those who sell “fully aligned” learning materials at prices that are so low that the person who purchases the materials should have known that it is a hoax – they actually get what they deserve. The learners, however, are stuck with the disruption.

More damaging than even students who riot, set campus buildings and works of art on fire, destroy monuments, etc. are people who pay or accept bribes.

I can continue sighting examples of disruption in private and public learning that will make you weep. Well, not really because I am sure you all know what is going on. The point is; if the quality assurance bodies, the government departments, organised labour, private and public learning institutions and the industry continue disrupting the educational system for any reason other than to promote and protect the interests of the learners, the entire system will eventually collapse.

In closing, dust the ring binders off in which you filed the NSDS and NDP and see how many of the strategic objectives listed in them will never be achieved because of the disruption of the ETD system.

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Trust and quality education and training

4 HONDE 2Many learning institutions often resist quality assurance of education and training because of the attitude of quality assurance bodies; excessive demands on the time and funds of the universities or colleges; the perception that such bodies violate the academic autonomy and freedom of the learning institutions, fostering a compliance culture; managerial and political intrusion in academic matters as well as fear that quality assurance might damage the good reputation of the university or college. In short, role players in education and training do not trust one another.

I cannot think of a system where the interrelated elements are more tightly linked and interdependent than the issue of trust. Without trust no education and training system can ever deliver quality learning and without quality learning people will not trust one another. Even more, all stakeholders in education and training are equally responsible for ensuring that quality learning takes place and for demonstrating that they can be trusted.

Everybody must work hard and focus on the achievement of the best quality learning results possible. It does not matter where one starts with who is responsible for establishing a culture of trust; the end-result will be the same.

Quality assurance bodies need to demonstrate to learning providers that they can be trusted to play a professional supportive role rather than to adopt a punitive stance or to promote motives other than the promotion and protection of the interests of the students. The role of quality assurance bodies is crucial in improving mutual trust in education and training provision, as they also influence mobility and lifelong learning.

Learning institutions need to demonstrate to quality assurance bodies and the students that they are serious about providing quality education and training. It is only reasonable to expect that quality assurance bodies and students will adopt a trusting attitude to education and training providers who show that they are serious about investing in the youth of the country, who deliver a professional service and who treat their students with integrity.

Students need to show learning institutions and their employers or future employers that they are sincere about gaining knowledge and skills that will prepare them for a future career and lifelong learning.

Employers need to gain the trust of students by supporting them financially and by allowing them time and opportunities to study if they are already employed.

Co-operation is a prerequisite for trust and trust is a prerequisite for co-operation. It is vitally important if we are to establish a healthy quality culture in education and training that the different role players must trust one another. The value of co-operation and trust are lost in a system where quality assurance is regarded as a form of punishment. Even worse, co-operation is not even possible where universities and other learning institutions are misused for the promotion of political agendas.

Setting the example is important for the establishment of a culture of trust. The quality assurance manager, educator, employer or government official who expects students to be trustworthy should set the example by trusting them and by being trustworthy.

Any role player in education and training who does not demonstrate trust creates confusion, uncertainty and fear. All measures to decrease or eliminate fear promote trust. All trust-building measures also prevent or at least reduce fear. Unfortunately it seldom works to expect other role players to demonstrate trust first before you will respond in kind. All role players should act in a manner that instils trust without waiting for anybody else to set the example.

Open communication is a prerequisite for trust. Trust and open communication can only be established if all who are involved in education and training are willing to work hard and to focus on quality education and training.

In closing, trust is the foundation of quality education and training. Trust can be broadly linked to all the other elements of a healthy quality culture and everybody who is involved in education and training, be it as students, educators, quality assurors, employers or government must co-operate in the promotion and protection of the interest of the students.

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All is not lost for private ETD providers with integrity


Yes, we are living in interesting times and the world economy is in serious trouble. Private ETD providers are struggling. It is alleged that corruption in government on all levels has finally caught up with those who are involved; government is rerouting National Skills Funds, which is supposed to be used for occupational learning and job creation, to universities; government is said to have instructed their departments and parastatals not to give contracts to any business who are not at least 80% black owned, regardless of their BB BEE status; quality assurance bodies still do not perform as required, etc.

Ironically corruption is escalating because many private ETD providers seem to think that they will survive through bribery. Some government officials are capitalising on this new opportunity to earn lots of money easily and fast. Only last month a senior government official visited me. She told me that she had Rm1.7 left in her skills development budget. She had to spend it before the end of the financial year and she would like me to submit a tender for the training. I’ve had many such offers over the years and I know how they work. They will not ask you for a bribe directly, but if you don’t offer some kind of “finder’s fee” you will not hear from them again. They make the same offer to a number of providers and the one who offers the bribe gets the contract. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

All government officials are not corrupt. The other day at a church function (nogal) a man asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I own a private training company. He then asked me if I do business with government. I replied that most of our clients are government departments. He responded by insinuating that my business (read I) must be corrupt if I do business with government. I did not even try to convince him that many government officials are still honest and concerned about quality. End of discussion.

Fortunately there are still people in government who are honest and who care about quality. Yes, we also lost some clients. Ironically some of those who expect a bribe come back accepting that we will not pay them a bribe. They still want quality training. Then there are those, and they have been our clients for many years, who do not even think in terms of a bribe. They use our services because they know that they will receive quality.

One SETA, who some years ago decided not to give us any further learnership contracts because we are not sufficiently back owned, even though we have a level 4 BB BEE rating, gave the contracts to black owned providers, some of them not even accredited, on condition that we help them.

An interesting result of this is that the status of our certificates increased substantially. We even get learners who ask if they can swop their certificates, issued by other learning providers, for Mentornet certificates. Of course we don’t do this, but it is good to know that our certificates are valued.

One gets to know people in government, especially quality assurance bodies, D HET and SAQA, who have lots of integrity. They respect us and we respect them. Birds of a feather, you know… I wish I could mention a few names, but with things being as they are one can well set them up as targets for those who work in the dark.

In closing, this year is already a difficult one. All businesses, including private ETD providers, will need to be really creative if they are to survive. Perhaps those who join the corrupt might perform well, but they might also end up in jail. And once you start being dishonest there is no turning back. If you still feel that you can only survive by being corrupt, then go ahead. The choice is yours.

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How to register on the iNtgrty website

In this tutorial we will have a look at how to register on the iNtgrty website.

You may be asking yourself “Why should I register?” Basically you need to register in order to participate on the website. So if you want to post a comment, reply to a comment or post a news article or discussion yourself then you will have to be registered. If that is what you had in mind then keep reading…

Here are the basic steps you need to follow to register, starting from the iNtgrty homepage (www.intgrty.co.za):

Step 1: Hover the mouse pointer over the “Log in” menu as shown in the image below.


Step 2: The menu should expand, click on the “Register” link as shown in the image below.


Step 3: The registration page should load, insert your registration details into the form as shown in the image below.


Step 4: Click inside the check-box next to the text “I’m not a robot” as shown in the image below.


Step 5: Click on the “Register” button as shown in the image below.


Step 6: The login page should now load. An e-mail will be sent to you with a link, click on the link to activate your account and set your password.

Step 7: Once you open the link sent to your e-mail you will be redirected to the page shown in the image below. The system automatically generates a secure password for you, if you chose to use this password then make sure to take note of it so that you can log in later. Alternatively you can also fill in your own password.


Step 8: Click on the “Reset Password” button, you will be redirected to the login page where you can log in using the details that you have entered.

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Requirements for Quality Assurance in Education, Training and Development

UNIVHAMBURGIt is interesting to see how different countries or groups of countries adopt different strategies to ensure good quality education, training and development (ETD). Some seem to achieve remarkable success while others just don’t seem to make it, or care. Then there are those where political agendas ruin the ETD system of the country. South Africa currently faces immense obstacles of which many of you are probably aware. In this article I will suggest a strategic approach that should help us perform better. Others might be interested in my suggestions even if only to feel good about how well ETD is conducted in their countries.

To begin with, quality assurance should rest on a strategy that is articulated to the needs and context of the country. This should start with a strategy for early childhood development and gradually progress to youth development and adult education and training. All of this should fit into, or form part strategies of what one can call a community development strategy. Development should start at an early age already and the stronger the foundation is the better will the end-result be.

Coherence is one of the most important prerequisites for an integrated national strategy for quality assurance. Quality assurance bodies and learning institutions on all levels should have the same frame of reference. The worst possible situation is where different quality assurance bodies are in competition with one another and where individuals in quality assurance bodies set their own quality criteria without consulting anybody and without there being anybody to monitor and control the process. Coherence can be achieved by developing a national quality framework which is supported by lower level strategies right down to the individual learning institutions.

A strategic approach to quality assurance is served best if top-level quality assurance bodies initiate the process by formulating policies and procedures to be supported by lower level quality assurance bodies in a chain reaction that ends at the ETD provider level. This does not mean that higher level quality assurance bodies are exclusively involved in strategy formulation, while lower level quality assurance bodies and ETD providers are exclusively involved in the implementation of strategies. There is, however, a shift in emphasis with higher level role players being more involved in strategy formulation while lower level role-players are more involved in the implementation of strategies.

ETD strategic planning should support human resources development and employment strategies on all levels. This can be achieved if ETD strategies are demand-led on national and industry levels. The quality assurance system should be aligned with the overall strategic goals of the country as well as the industry. This is achieved by determining skills needs at least in cooperation with the industry, i.e. employers if they don’t specify their skills needs, and transforming such skills needs to human resources development strategic objectives, which are integrated with the overall strategic objectives of the organisation.

Government should not dictate skills needs because it can easily lead to the manipulation of the ETD system to achieve political goals. The industry should decide what their scarce and critical skills needs are and government should have bodies, a system and a budget in place to satisfy the needs. Skills needs are the demand for ETD that the industry brings to the attention of learning institutions either directly or via quality assurance bodies. Demand-led quality assurance is a good example of a strategic system where the education and training strategy supports the strategy for the economic growth of a country. It normally aims at transforming the education and training system so that it offers the highest quality and value, and equips young people and adults for employability and personal fulfilment.

A demand-led quality assurance strategy means finding an optimum skills mix to maximise economic growth, productivity and social justice and to consider the policy implications of achieving the level of change required. Government policy and the resulting legislation can easily become an obstacle in the way of demand-led education and training. In their book entitled How South Africa Works (Pan Macmillan South Africa 215: 88) Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills wrote that organised labour and the government strategies that do not support skills development and employment can lead to small businesses doing everything in their power not to employ people, while big business invests offshore to protect themselves against uncertainties.

Implementation is the process by means of which the quality assurance strategy is put into practice. It is essential to establish and uphold key principles that underpin the implementation of the planned actions in order to ensure effectiveness in achieving the goals and objectives which have been planned. Such coherence may be achieved in many ways. Funding incentives, the provision of procedural guidelines at the local level, building the capacity of key players on quality issues through ETD, or a combination of internal quality systems at provider level with external inspections, for example, may be used.

In closing, the following are requirements for a quality assurance in ETD:

  1. A system of mutually-supportive quality assurance strategies at government, provincial or regional, quality assurance body and ETD provider level.
  2. Coherence in terms of standards and quality criteria on all levels.
  3. Employers that bring scarce and critical skills needs to the attention of government.
  4. A government that supports the provision of quality ETD rather than to misuse ETD to achieve political objectives.
  5. A system of monitoring and control to prevent individuals and bodies from misusing quality assurance for purposes other than quality ETD.
  6. Legislation that promotes and supports quality ETD.
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