Book Published: KOPERMAAN Liefdesgedigte

OOR DIE SKRYWER

Lynn is gebore op 10 Maart 1956 in die ou Militêre Hospitaal in Voortrekkerhoogte wat nou bekend staan as Thaba Tshwane. Sy het skool gegaan op Valhalla Laerskool en Voortekkerhoogtese Hoërskool.

Na matriek het Lynn by die weermag aangesluit en by die dieselfde ou Militêre Hospitaal opleiding gedoen as verpleegster. In Januarie 1977 het sy die kwalifikasie van Algemene Geregistreerde Verpleegster behaal sowel as komissie as ‘n offisier in die destydse SAW (Suid Afrikaanse Weermag). Hierna het sy haarself as psigiatriese verpleegkundige sowel as vroedvrou gekwalifiseer.

Vanaf 1980, nadat sy haar pos as verpleeg-offisier bedank het, het sy vir 10 jaar haar rol as eggenote en moeder van drie kinders vervul.

In 1990 is Lynn deeltyds by die Instituut vir Lugvaartgeneeskunde (ILG) begin werk en in 1991 aangesluit as siviele verpleegkundige, en is opgelei in Lugvaartgeneeskunde. In 2003 het sy weer by die SANW Staande Mag aangesluit en is aangestel as ‘n kaptein. Lynn het by ILG gewerk tot en met haar aftrede in 2016.

Lynn het in matriek begin dig. Danksy Afrikaanse en Engelse letterkunde op skool het Lynn ‘n belangstelling en waardering vir taal ontwikkel.

Author: Lynn Greyling

Date Published: 2018-04-03

ISBN: 978-0-620-72984-0 (print)
ISBN: 978-0-620-72985-7 (e-book)

Published By: iNtgrty

Number of Pages: 102

R80.00

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Article 4: Constructivism

Constructivism claims that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. We reconcile new observations and experiences with our previous ideas and experiences. This might change our perceptions, or the new information and experiences might be discarded, depending on how we process it in our minds. This means that we create our own knowledge by asking questions and exploring things, which would inevitably be subjective.[1] Elkind[2] defined constructivism as follows:

“Constructivism is the recognition that reality is a product of human intelligence interacting with experience in the real world.”

Ethics is an important value in constructivism. Constructivists recognise the importance of the construction and the way in which data is collected as prerequisites for validity and accuracy of analysis. The quality of data and the way in which it is analysed determine the nature of reality and how it is interpreted.     

Constructivism is mostly used with grounded theory methodology.[3] Human interests are important for research purposes, with the result that the paradigm can also be used with several other research methods, for example action research, case study research, ethnography, etc. A multitude of data collecting methods can be used, for example interviews, participant observation, artefacts, and almost any documents that are relevant to the field of study.[4]

The aim of such research is to understand situations or phenomena. Rich data is gathered from which ideas can be formed. It involves a researcher collaborating with participants. The interaction of people is researched in their context or setting, mostly to solve social problems of the target group. The accuracy of research findings is validated and creates an agenda for change or reform. This is a rather well-known sequence of events that is followed in most qualitative research methodology.

Constructivism is also closely associated with pragmatism, relativism, liberalism, interpretivism, symbolic interactionism and positivism. For example, like positivism, constructivism also uses observation to gather information. Different from positivism, which argues that knowledge is generated in a scientific method, i.e. externally, you, as the researcher, are part of what is being observed, i.e. internally. This is called an ‘emic’ approach, which means observing the community, also called the target group, from the inside. An ‘etic’ approach would mean to observe the target group from the outside, as in the case of positivism.

Although some academics claim that constructivism can be positively associated with behaviourism, this is a rather weak and unconvincing link because of the absence of reflection in the case of behaviourism. This, however, is also questionable because “learned history” without reflection does not make sense. Constructivism also rejects scientism and empiricism for much the same reason, i.e. lack of reflection.

Constructivism is rather widely criticised in terms of its value, or lack of value in education as well as its lack of balance when used as a philosophy in research. In education it can lead to group thinking when the interpretation of one or a few prominent educators or scientists is regarded as “the only truth”.

Constructivists sometimes place too much emphasis on sensory experience at the expense of reflection. This means that constructivists sometimes focus strongly on the ontology, i.e. “what is” and neglect the epistemology, i.e. the “explanation” and “justification” of the phenomenon, with the result that knowledge is not sufficiently proven to be valid or accurate.

Different academics integrate constructivism with other paradigms, research methods and realities, thereby robbing it of its identity as a valid research paradigm.


[1] http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concpet2class/constructivism. Accessed on 22/11/2017.

[2] In https://research-methodology.net/research-philosophy/epistemology. Accessed on 22/11/2017.

[3] N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln, 2018: 416.

[4] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Barbara_Kawulich/publication/… Accessed on 01/05/2018.

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Article 3: Behaviourism

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

Behaviourism is a set of doctrines that argues that human and animal behaviour can be explained in terms of external stimuli, responses, learned histories and reinforcement of knowledge and understanding. Reinforcement of knowledge and understanding can increase (positive reinforcement) or decrease (negative reinforcement) desired behaviour.

According to behaviourism all human behaviour can be understood in terms of cause and effect. Behaviourists, therefore, argue that research should focus on that which is determined by, and is the product of, the environment. This implies that research should focus on observable behaviour which can be objectively measured rather than on things like cognitive processes which can only be inferred.[1] Intentionality and purposiveness are excluded or regarded as less important. Behaviourists, furthermore, argue that the human mind cannot be known and, therefore, cannot be shown to influence the individual’s behaviour. All mental states, including beliefs, values, motives and reasons can only be described, defined and explained in terms of observable behaviour. Any data of a mental kind should be regarded as unscientific.

Behaviourism is related to positivism, because positivism believes that understanding of human behaviour can be gained through observation and reason. Behaviourism can also be associated with empiricism because both make use of experimentation, specifically experience and the simulation of experience.

As in the case of behaviourism, symbolic interactionism and hermeneutics also believe that learning takes place through interaction between human beings, i.e. external stimuli. All three paradigms strongly depend on language to convey and share research findings and, consequently, the accuracy and validity of findings through behaviourism and symbolic interactionism depend on the ability of the researcher to use language. 

Behaviourism disagrees with phenomenology because phenomenology considers experience through direct interaction while behaviourism takes external stimuli into consideration.

Behaviourism disagrees with constructivism because constructivism claims that understanding is gained through experience and reflection while behaviourism neglects the cognitive processes, i.e. reflection. The same applies to pragmatism because pragmatism postulates that knowledge is gained through observation and interpretation. There is, however, a link between positivism and constructivism with “reason” requiring “reflection”. This, however, can hardly be establishing a positive link between behaviourism and constructivism because of other elements which we will discuss under constructivism, which happens to be the next paradigm that we will discuss.

In closing, the problem with behaviourism as a research paradigm is that changes in behaviour without taking cognitive processes into consideration are often only temporary. Consequently, it does not deal with subjective human meaning-making. Some behaviourists, however, do recognise the fact that cognitive thinking and the accompanying emotions can influence behaviour, a philosophy that is popularly called ‘radical behaviourism’. A second criticism against behaviourism is that its explanation of the reason for, or what causes behaviour, is not always scientifically corroborated.


[1] https://www.aqr.org.uk/glossary/behaviourism. Accessed on 23/11/2017.

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Article 2 of 29: The Research Paradigms

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

Most, if not all, paradigms, are research methods while what we call research methods are often just tools that we use to collect data. Some paradigms developed into full-fledged research methods because of their rise in popularity. Transformative research is an example of this.

There are a multitude of paradigms. Some of them are modifications of classical paradigms that have been articulated by academics to enhance the research process. Then there are those paradigms that are not research paradigms. They may be educational, philosophical, or theoretical, but not of such a nature that they can logically serve as the foundation for academic research. The paradigms discussed in this series of articles are those that are generally accepted as being of relevance to academic research. However, the list can never be exhaustive or final because research is a dynamic process and new paradigms are developed all the time.

Research paradigms, also called philosophical perspectives, philosophical epochs, epistemological approaches, discipline matrices, or theoretical frameworks, represent certain assumptions and perceptions with respect to the nature of the world and how we come to know about it. There are many different definitions for a paradigm. Here are examples of such definitions:

“A research paradigm can be defined as an integrated cluster of substantive concepts, variables and problems attached with corresponding methodological approaches and tools.”[1]

“A loose collection of logically related assumptions, concepts, or propositions that orient thinking and research.”[2]

“An example or pattern: small, self-contained, simplified examples that we use to illustrate procedures, processes, and theoretical points.”[3]

“… the philosophical intent or motivation for undertaking a study.”[4]

“The set of common beliefs and agreements shared between scientists about how problems should be understood and addressed.”[5]

“A paradigm is essentially a way of thinking about or viewing the world. Paradigms are also frameworks that researchers use as a basis for everything else that they do.”[6]

A paradigm, therefore, implies a philosophy that includes certain patterns, structures and frameworks or systems of scientific and academic ideas, values and assumptions that a group of researchers have in common regarding the nature and conduct of research. This differs between different groups of researchers; hence we have a relatively large number of different paradigms to choose from. The philosophical point of view informs the research methodology and also the way in which the contents of the research will be interpreted. It, furthermore, links the choice and use of methods to the desired outcomes. Paradigms are systems of interrelated ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions.[7]

The fact that we need to adopt one or the other research paradigm shows that qualitative research is rather subjective, because what we are actually doing is to adopt a point of view while ignoring, rejecting or neglecting a number of other possible points of view. Especially researchers making use of quantitative research methods might feel that just one paradigmatic approach, usually technicist in nature, should be the only philosophical approach.

We can discuss the argument that only quantitative research produces accurate and objective results, at length. In reality numbers can also be manipulated to support a particular point of view. However, what is needed is that we accept that we are dealing with people and that the truth can have many different flavours. In qualitative research the truth is time-bound, meaning that what is true today might not be true tomorrow (which is not what technicist paradigms suggest).

Research paradigms should be chosen essentially with the research problem and research question or questions in mind (quantitative research often uses a hypothesis rather than a research question or problem). Research paradigms allow for a variety of research methods to be used in order to answer research questions. The choice is not so much about research methods, but rather about ontological and epistemological assumptions. The challenge is to select a paradigm or combination of paradigms that are most suited to solving a problem and answering one or more research questions. The choice of a research paradigm or paradigms should be made in the context of many and often competing influences on how research problems are defined and investigated, and against the background of personal preferences and many external variables.[8]

Paradigms determine the spirit in which research is conducted and, as such, impact on the nature of the research question, i.e. what is to be studied, and on the manner in which the question is to be studied. They add a philosophical perception to the clinical academic meaning of arguments and content and are a reflection of the value system of the particular researcher. Even so, the chosen paradigm or paradigms have an influence on the data collection methods and research methods that you will use. 

As a researcher you will inevitably follow at least one of the paradigmatic approaches even if not intentionally. More likely, though, you will position your research at a point where elements of different paradigms are found in your approach with an emphasis towards one, two or even more of them. This is especially true when complex research problems are investigated.

Utilising more than one research paradigm facilitates the possibility of increasing the comprehensiveness of the knowledge developed through your research. Your research findings should often be as generic as possible, meaning that they should apply to a variety of contexts. Some paradigms apply to only one or a limited number of contexts. For this reason the adoption of a number of supporting paradigms might be called for.

You need to choose the paradigm or paradigms early, i.e. when you structure your research approach and methods. You may even specify it in your research proposal already, because it shows your intent, motivation and expectations of the research. You will have no basis for choosing the methods or research design that you will follow if you don’t choose your research paradigm or paradigms as an early step, perhaps even the first step after your research problem or hypothesis.[9] Research is a circular and recursive process; therefore you may change your paradigmatic approach at a later stage if it becomes necessary, even though this might cost you time and effort.

You will need to make a number of philosophical assumptions in order to choose a paradigmatic approach to follow in your research. Once you have chosen a research paradigm, you need to make all elements of the research design clear, and articulate all elements of your research with the paradigm that you have chosen. If you choose more than one paradigm, one of them will probably represent your primary focus with two or three others playing a lesser role.

You should, however, guard against combining paradigms that are in opposition to one another. The reason for this is that the concepts, theories and practices of supporters of opposing paradigms are based on different ontological and epistemological assumptions. They, furthermore, do not share a common vocabulary with shared meanings, and there is no neutral ground from which to adjudicate the merit of the paradigms or their products.[10] Technicist paradigms, for example, are often in opposition to interpretive paradigms while critical paradigms fit in somewhere between the two groups. Being in “opposition”, “challenged by”, “rejecting”, “associated with”, “disagree with”, etc. do not mean that different paradigms completely differ or agree, but rather that they agree or disagree in terms of certain characteristics.

You need to be fully aware of the paradigmatic assumptions that you make and you need to consistently move from description to explanation in terms of your findings and conclusions without deviating from your paradigmatic assumptions. Progressing from description to explanation requires substantial creativity if your research is to make a positive contribution to the available scientific knowledge.

Coherence in the design of your research process can be ensured by articulating the research question and methods to the paradigm or paradigms of your choice. You can probably achieve better coherence by grouping target group members together based on certain criteria, for example gender, age brackets, geographical location, etc. You can also achieve more coherent results by making use of a more suitable data collection method, for example interviews. In closing, it would be almost impossible, and irrelevant, to list and discuss all paradigms that you can find. The reasons for this are, firstly, that researchers do not agree on which paradigms are, in fact, paradigms, at least not as philosophical points of view that can be used for research purposes. Secondly, many paradigms overlap and echo the nature and elements of other paradigms, which leads to a substantial measure of duplication. Thirdly, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find all paradigms that exist and that are still being developed. We will discuss 28 different paradigms that can be utilised in academic research in the articles following on this one.


[1] http://www.uir.unisa.ac.za/bistream/handle/10500/4245… Accessed on 16/02/2017.

[2] N. Mackenzie and S. Knipe, 2006: pages not numbered.

[3] Webster Dictionary.

[4] N. Mackenzie and S. Knipe, 2006: pages not numbered.

[5] T. Anderson, date unknown: slide show.

[6] L. Killam, 2013: 65.

[7] M. Terre Blanche & K. Durrheim, 1999: 36.

[8] N. Blaikie and J. Priest, 2017: 22.

[9] N. Mackenzie and S. Knipe, 2006: pages not numbered.

[10] N. Blaikie and J. Priest, 2017: 8.

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Article 1 of 29: The purpose of research in education

Written by Dr J.P. Nel, D. Com; D. Phil, CEO of Mentornet (Pty) Ltd

Sponsors of research be they taxpayers, government, businesses or the community, will expect some value for their money. Somebody will need to decide if research should take place and it is often the sponsor who asks a researcher to do research on a problems that they need solved. You, as the prospective researcher, can also decide on the topic for research based on a problem or need that you identified. Lecturers also sometimes suggest research topics.

Time and energy spent on research is never wasted. The purposes of research can be added economic value, improved quality of life or improved professionalism. These three possible purposes overlap. Added economic value can be improved production processes, higher productivity, etc. Improved quality of life can be higher income, well-being, health, safety, social justice, the arts, leisure time utilization, freedom to interact in an enlightened, informed, responsible and constructive manner, etc. Improved professionalism can be the availability of good quality learning institutions, improved skills, more research, etc.

Generally speaking research should improve the learning offered by learning institutions. Knowledge and human well-being should be improved. It is debatable if, as some academics claim, the ‘pure sciences’ really add more value than social sciences. Do not underestimate the importance and value of improving intellectual skills. It is the improvement of analytical clarity, cognitive reasoning, conceptual imagination, perseverance and meticulousness of thought that provide students with the motivation and confidence to embark on further studies at a higher level.

It makes sense to argue that a county with a high unemployment rate should focus more on occupational learning, i.e. learning that will add value to the industry than on academic, philosophical research that only adds indirect and delayed value to the industry. However, strategically speaking a society should position itself to be ready to capitalize on growth opportunities by also conducting some research of an advanced scientific and philosophical nature.

It is difficult to ‘predict’ what the long-term value of such research will be. However, the likelihood of research providing some kind of benefit, even if only indirect, is almost certain, the only two preconditions being that the research should be shared with others who can do something with it and that the research should not have been done with ulterior, damaging motives in mind. 

Intellectual research for its own sake probably does not exist. For example, people can learn from historical research even if only by learning from mistakes made by our predecessors. The principles of science and the tenets of mathematics can be improved through research, with ‘old’ knowledge serving as a healthy foundation to build on. Besides, how will we know that concepts, principles, laws and tenets are wrong or outdated if we did not have them to begin with?

What may be regarded as worthless knowledge now might well turn out to be valuable in the future. I was once interviewed by an American post-graduate student who studied the patterns that sand form on the bends in river banks. His research was claimed to be worthless. Later researchers in astronomy discovered that the sand patterns that he did research on provided valuable evidence to determine if there was or is water, perhaps even life, on other planets.

In closing, the following are prerequisites for research in education to be of value:

  1. Universities and the industry should co-operate.
  2. We need to be patient. It is only when university students are employed that they learn to apply the theory taught at university in practice and to understand the (often simulated) practical work that they did at university.
  3. Research reports need to be made available for others to read.
  4. Knowledge and skills need to be transferred to the workplace and/or learning institutions.
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Learning and Development Ethics: Article 5 of 9

Written by Hannes Nel

Introduction. This article deals with:

  • Blaming others when things go wrong.
  • Being truthful.

Stop blaming others for things that go wrong. Assigning blame is a destructive action that causes defensiveness and shapes an environment in which learners and staff members become afraid to try innovation, creativity and risk taking. The instinctive reaction when someone in the learning institution makes a mistake that costs the organization money or perhaps even customers is to put the blame on the person who is regarded as being responsible for the damage. Often this person is just a scapegoat, and often it is the “real culprit” who points the finger first.

You need to keep in mind that all human beings make mistakes from time to time and you might well lose a staff member who could have done great work if you dealt with the incident in a more objective and mature manner. Mistakes need to be investigated and honest mistakes need to be treated differently from mistakes made with intent to do damage to the organisation or an individual. You need to show that you trust the unlucky staff member, unless intent can be proven.

Others can always learn from the mistakes made by an individual or even a group. Lessons learned should therefore be shared, keeping in mind that the person or persons who made the mistake are entitled to fair and respectful treatment. You can speak to the individual or group who made the mistake privately if necessary. Show empathy to help diffuse the tension and let the person know that you understand when the mistake was just an honest one. Also keep in mind that you should give credit for work well done. 

Be truthful. Lying is often the gut-level defensive reaction to a perceived threat. When you feel the desire to hide the truth, take time to jot down what you will get out of a trusting relationship versus the short-term gain you might get by evading the truth. Lying begins a risky cycle that breaks down trust and encourages more lying. The long-term impact on you and the learning institution is never worth the perceived short-term escape.

The internal ability to distinguish between right and wrong develops from an early age. Your conscience recognizes certain principles that lead to feelings of guilt if you violate them.

Close. In closing, you can easily act objectively and ethically by just focusing more on serving others than just satisfying your own needs. Life is often “wired” in such a way that the opposite of what you expect happens. By serving others you stand to benefit the most and by being selfish you actually do yourself serious damage on many different levels.

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Learning and Development Ethics: Article 4 of 9

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

Introduction. It is rather difficult to faithfully post articles this time of the year. I’ve been on holiday for three weeks and will probably also not post anything between Christmas and the new year. Therefore, this is the last one for 2018. I will cover the following issues in this article:

  • Do your work and learning in the open.
  • Eliminate offensive words and comments from your vocabulary.
  • Say no to negativity.

Do your work and learning in the open. Many people use transparency in their dealings with other people just for show, thereby compounding the problem of corruption and dishonesty. In its simplest sense, transparency means delivering clear and honest work. It also means not having a hidden agenda and an honest desire to satisfy the needs of your employer or educator.

Eliminate offensive words and comments from your vocabulary. Derogatory terms and off-colour jokes have no place at work or the classroom. They are degrading and unethical, and they can have legal repercussions. The words you use, and the jokes you tell, say a lot more about you than the people you are talking about.

In the workplace it will be your responsibility to ensure that you and your employees don’t use, or are exposed to, offensive language. This means that you will need to take active steps to ensure that the workplace is appropriate. People are especially sensitive to racist and humiliating words and phrases. People who are extremely racist or rude are mostly called to order by the other employees or learners. Subtle words and remarks are more difficult to control because the guilty persons might not even realise that what they are saying can be regarded as offensive.

Say no to negativity. The negative thinkers are the people who say things like “It’ll never work” before they even consider how to make it work. They are the ones who openly criticize the organization, spread rumours about other learners and the facilitator, complain and try to pull others into their circle of negative thinkers. Negativity is counterproductive; it erodes integrity and sometimes fosters illegal acts. Negativity is wrong. The worst situation that you can have is when you are a negative thinker. We should not accept that the negative thinkers will always be with us, because once we adopt this attitude, we will not get rid of them. As long as we resist negative thinking and avoid negative thinkers, we will at least be able to curtail the tendency.

Rules, regulations, command, control, policies and procedures are necessary in especially larger learning institutions, but they seldom eliminate unethical behaviour. The reason for this is that they are often based on negative motivation.

Even though legislation can sometimes be written in a negative manner or with negative purposes in mind, you should still abide by the laws of the country. Laws are created to help society function. In general, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. The same applies to organizational rules and procedures. Rules and procedures are normally developed to help the organization function successfully and to avoid problems.

Ethical behaviour arises from deep within people – more from positive motivation than negative regulations. Regulations, procedures and the culture of your learning institution should be positive and instil values in the hearts and minds of your staff members.

In closing, may 2019 surprise us all by turning out to be the best and most fruitful year ever. I admit that I am rather apprehensive about this one (how’s that for negative thinking) but good things can happen. Happy new year.

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Comment on the National Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning (as amended in 2018). Draft for public comment dated 26 October 2018.

Mentornet fully agree with the draft National Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of RPL (referred to as “the National RPL Policy” in this feedback document). However, the RPL Policies of QA Bodies differ in some rather critical elements from the National RPL Policy. The following should be considered and, perhaps, discussed with them:

  1. Paragraph 7 of the National RPL Policy provides for RPL as a way in which to obtain credits, qualifications and part-qualifications. Quality assurance bodies that set artificial limits and preconditions for RPL can easily destroy the socio-economic and redress value of the process. Allowing RPL only for gaining access to further learning but not for certification is unfair and discriminatory.
  2. Paragraph 11 and 12.c of the National RPL Policy determines that the RPL policies of the three NQF Sub-Frameworks must be aligned with it. Hopefully all three QA Bodies will show the necessary respect for the professional work that SAQA put into reviewing the current National RPL Policy.
  3. Paragraph 15.d of the National RPL Policy accepts that the RPL Policies can differ in terms of context. This can easily be misinterpreted as meaning that different QA Bodies can accept only the terms of the National RPL Policy with which they agree, rendering the National RPL Policy ineffective.
  4. Paragraph 15.f of the National RPL Policy provides for the use of RPL for diagnostic, formative or summative assessments, to create opportunities for, or towards credit/exemption, access, advanced standing, professional designations or recognition in the workplace. Although not wrong, this extends the purpose for which RPL can be used substantially. Holistic RPL should be flexible, but diagnostics and formative assessment are only steps in the RPL process and not end-results.
  5. Paragraph 15.i and 18.c.vi: Maintaining data on how credits were achieved “under strict conditions of confidentiality” creates the impression that there is something wrong with credits achieved through RPL. A certificate is just the written confirmation that an individual has certain knowledge and skills. How the knowledge and skills were obtained is not relevant. Credits achieved through RPL and credits achieved through formal learning are of equal value and status – this should be accepted and supported unconditionally. Transparency is important.
  6. Paragraph 19. The role of education and training institutions should be protected and guaranteed, the only precondition being that the learning institutions, be they public or private, need to have the knowledge, experienced and capacity to offer learning in RPL and conduct the process if that is what they wish to do. Currently this is not reflected in the accreditation of private learning institutions, the representation of such institutions in National Coordinating Bodies or the allocation of contracts to offer such services based on merit.

 

In closing, quality assurance bodies currently have in their RPL Policies certain clauses that should specifically be addressed and precluded in the National RPL Policy, for example:

  • Refusing to grant learners credits towards a national qualification if the credits were achieved through RPL. Giving a learner who achieved a degree through formal learning 360 credits, but the learner who achieved 50 of the 360 credits through RPL only 310 credits for the same degree does not make sense.
  • Limiting the number of students who can be admitted to further studies through RPL. Not only is this an unnecessary and unfair obstacle in the way of redress of injustices of the past, it is also labeling RPL as inferior to formal learning. Countries with advanced RPL systems in place provide for the RPL of entire groups, which would mean that all students in a particular cohort can be accepted on account of them being assesses through RPL for full qualifications.
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Learning and Development Ethics: Article 2 of 9

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

Introduction. I will discuss corruption and the consequences of unethical behaviour in this (second) article on ethics in ETD.

Corruption challenges for learning institutions. Learning institutions often do not have the financial resources to deal with legal and ethical challenges. They, therefore, cannot absorb costs related to corruption. To make things worse, government does not always set a good example, legislation is inconsistent and almost impossible to enforce, the people who are supposed to stamp out corruption are often also corrupt, and methods suggested by government to combat corruption do not work. Learning institutions can do the following to deal with corruption and sustain the organization.

  • Ensure that the manager or managers in the institution are people with integrity. You can also appoint an ombudsman, i.e. somebody who monitors that all practices in the organization are above board.
  • Corrupt practices should always be rejected no matter how big the unethical financial gain may be.
  • Report corruption. The problem with reporting corruption is that those who are guilty of corruption are also mostly well-skilled in leaving no evidence. Whistle-blowers are often victimised by those who are supposed to ensure law and order.
  • Don’t deal with corrupt people.

 

The consequences of unethical behaviour. Unethical behaviour always creates a chain reaction of further unethical behaviour. It causes everybody to lose money, jobs and their freedom. It often ruins the economies of countries that could otherwise have been wealthy. And ultimately, when the entire economy is ruined, the negative effects of unethical behaviour return to those who started it.

Acting ethically is simply a matter of having vision. Vision means being able to foresee the consequences of your actions. A person with vision will understand that being dishonest will not only damage others but him or her as well. If you manage a learning institution or participate in learning in an unethical manner, you will fail and you run a serious risk of losing everything that you value in life, including your freedom.

There are many (too many) examples of dishonest people who became rather wealthy. In fact, the trend is so familiar that one invariably wonders if someone who is wealthy is not corrupt as well. It is as if honesty and wealth are two opposite poles. Some may say that you can’t possibly become rich if you are a goody boy.

Ultimately your approach to learning is a matter of choice. You may choose to be corrupt and dishonest or you may choose to walk the narrow road with integrity. Corruption might well help you to make a lot of money quickly, but you may also end up with nothing, perhaps even in jail. You need not be dishonest to be rich.

Dishonest people can make it really difficult for you to refuse a bribe. Sometimes they can colour the transaction in such a way that you might not even realise that it is a bribe. On the other hand, some people might pretend not to recognize the transgression. It becomes really difficult not to succumb to temptation when you see that your competitors are doing well while you are struggling to make ends meet. However, there will always be potential clients who respect integrity and quality. They are the most valuable clients because they often support you much longer than the corrupt ones.

The problem with dishonesty is that it robs you of your freedom, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Dishonesty is not what makes people successful. It may help you land a few good contracts or get good exam marks that you did not deserve, but in the end it often backfires.

Dishonest people are always scared that others will find out the truth. They are always paranoid and they always live their lives waiting for the right time to start over, to be free. Being dishonest means building your own prison. The learner who is dishonest creates expectations with his or her employer that he or she will be able to do certain work after having been trained. You will be terribly embarrassed and might even lose your job if you cannot do the work because you cheated to obtain a certificate.

If you are a risk taker who enjoys the excitement of operating outside the law, then go ahead and enjoy the roller-coaster ride. Accept that your chances of losing your job and perhaps even ending up in jail are much higher than if you work in an honest way.

The important thing to remember about ethics is that in spite of all the codes of ethics and ethics programmes, it is not organizations that make ethical decisions. Individuals make ethical or unethical choices. It is people who put ethics into practice.

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Learning and Development Ethics: Article 1 of 9

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

The problem with unethical behaviour is not just that it damages the image of the learning institution or quality assurance body, but rather that it can easily become a national trend, almost a culture and that it can reduce the country to yet another anarchy run by war lords and criminals. Unethical behaviour affects not only the guilty people but a multitude of people around them.

Leaders on all levels in learning do not seem to understand the dire consequences of their greed. People are often really good at rationalising their unethical behaviour. They do not understand that it is not the excuse for the unethical behaviour that is doing the damage but rather the criminal act.

I will discuss the following issues related to ethical behavior in the provision of learning, broken down into 9 weekly articles, starting with this one.

  1. If you are corrupt you are already in trouble.
  2. The consequences of unethical behaviour are never good.
  3. When is unethical behaviour acceptable?
  4. Honour your promises and commitments.
  5. Do your work and learning in the open.
  6. Eliminate offensive words and comments from your vocabulary.
  7. Say no to negativity.
  8. Stop blaming others for things that go wrong.
  9. Be truthful.
  10. Embrace racial, cultural and creative diversity.
  11. Don’t confuse “cutting corners” with efficiency.
  12. Know your job – inside and out.
  13. Recognize others’ efforts, contributions, and ethical behaviour.
  14. Go the extra mile.
  15. Practice patience, understanding and empathy.
  16. Talk with people, not at them.
  17. Make it safe to do work and learn with you.
  18. Accept that people sometimes make mistakes.
  19. Make it safe to be ethical.

In closing, we are all tired of people writing and talking while almost nothing is done to change things for the better. The problem is, when we no longer at least talk we might give up entirely and then we will be in really serious trouble. People get used to bad circumstances and once they have adapted they either learn how to gain from the bad situation or they just stop caring. Let’s not give up. You are most welcome to respond to the articles.

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