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The NQF and Curriculum Development

Download a copy of this policy form the SAQA website here:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2000/curriculum_dev.pdf

The National Qualifications Framework and Curriculum Development

We need systemic change, not just curriculum or pedagogic change; we need a new driving vision for our system, not just a new paradigm for curriculum design and delivery in the classroom.

Dr M Nkomo

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Publication date: May 2000

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction                                                                                    3
  1. What is a qualification and how does it relate to the

curriculumand curriculum development?                                        4

  1. Can the same outcomes be achieved through different

learning programmes?                                                                     8

  1. What is the relationship between the NQF, learning programme development and delivery and outcomes-based education?                                      10
  1. How does the NQF description of a qualification impact on

Learning programme development?                                              14

  • Planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined

Purpose                                                                                   15

  • It is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning 16
  • Critical Cross-field Education and Training Outcomes 18
  • Integrated assessment 21
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) 23
  • Credits 23
  • Learning assumed to be in place 24
  1. Conclusion                                                                                   26
  1. References                                                                                    27
  1. Appendix A                                                                                  28

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SAQA’s Mission

To ensure the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework which contributes to the full development of each learner and to the social and economic development of the nation at large.

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Introduction

A

s an introduction to this area, it may be helpful to explore what educa- tion is. This may seem like an elementary question but it is one that constantly,  throughout  the  recorded  history  of  mankind,  has  perplexed philosophers and thinkers. To this day, an absolute definition still escapes us. As Montaigne, the French philosopher, said when trying to find a mean- ing for the word education: ‘The farther I sail, the more land I espy, and that so dimmed with fogs and overcast with clouds, that my sight is so weakened I cannot distinguish the same.’ Nevertheless even though there is no undis- puted definition of what education is, that does not mean that there is no value in exploring the concept. It is in this exploration that one is able to clarify one’s thinking and sort out the basic issues, and then establish some

direction for a review of the South African initiatives.

A helpful place to start is the definition of education that Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, came up with some 2 500 years ago. He said the following:

We must not leave out of sight the nature of education and the proper means of imparting it. For at present there is a practical dissension on this point; people do not agree on the subjects which the young should learn, whether they should take virtue in the abstract or the best life as the end to be sought, and it is uncertain whether education should be properly directed rather to the cultivation of the intellect or the moral discipline. The question is complicated, too, if we look at the actual education of our own day; nobody knows whether the young should be trained at such studies as are merely useful as means of livelihood or in such as tend to the promotion of virtue or in the higher studies, all of which have received a certain number of suffrages. Nor again, if virtue be accepted as the end, is there any agreement as to the means of attaining it… (Politics, Book V, Chapter 3, Welldon’s translation)

In spite of its age, this extract illustrates some of the eternal problems that face those engaged in education. What is the purpose of education? Is it the development of practical skills to enable one to earn a living? Is it the process of forming and strengthening character? Is it the development of the mind and intelligence, the formation and understanding of concepts in the abstract? Is it the transmission or reproduction of our academic and cultur- al heritage and where possible, the improvement or transformation of that heritage? Aristotle asks what subjects should be taught. From the 1800s the study of the Classics i.e. Latin and Classical Greek was the basis of the cur- riculum, society believing that only if a man had read the Classics could he be deemed truly educated. However, since the exposure of that myth, debate has raged the world over about what subject matter and content best meets the needs of society; what is it that the education system should concentrate on. More recently debates have moved across discipline boundaries and

Nobody knows whether the young should be trained at such studies as are merely useful as means of livelihood or in such as tend to the promotion of virtue or

in the higher studies

Aristotle

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Qualification: means a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended

to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning.

inter-disciplinary studies have found favour. Rousseau in turn rejected the concept of deciding what children should learn altogether and rather favoured a much freer attitude, discovery learning. A further debate rages as to whether education is a process or is it an event of fixed duration? Having raised some of the complexities, Aristotle finally hints at the problem of how to ‘educate’ or how to become ‘educated’, by indicating that even if there were agreement on what its purpose is, there is no agreement as to the means of attaining it. This assertion opens up a whole new area of debate around pedagogy, curriculum design, development and delivery, education management and education structures. If the question was a difficult one at the time of Aristotle, its complexity has increased immeasurably with the theories and discoveries in psychology and sociology in respect of how peo- ple think and learn, and the relationship between individuals and the wider society within which they live.

It is within this context of constant debate and theorising that this discussion of curriculum development takes place. The concept that there is one cor- rect mechanism for curriculum development and delivery is rejected and this discussion serves only to highlight some of the guiding principles and the problem areas for curriculum dvelopment and delivery within the NQF.

What is a qualification  and how does it relate

to the curriculum and curriculum development?

I

t is important to explore what links exist between qualifications and the curriculum. It may then be possible to look more specifically at the rela-

tionship between qualifications and learning programmes.

Qualification: means a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide quali- fying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning; and it means the formal recognition of the achievement of the required number and range of credits and such other requirements at specific levels of the NQF as may be determined by the relevant bodies registered for such pur- pose by the SAQA (NSB regulations)

Standard means registered statements of desired education and training outcomes and their associated assessment criteria. (SAQA Act)

Unit standard means registered statements of desired education and train- ing outcomes and their associated assessment criteria together with admin- istrative and other information as specified in these regulations. (NSB reg- ulations)

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Learning programme means the sequential learning activities, associated with curriculum implementation, leading to the achievement of a particular qualification or part qualification. A learning programme can be identified with a cluster of qualifications, a single qualification or a part qualification. A particular qualification may be achieved through different learning pro- grammes that meet the exit level outcomes and associated assessment crite- ria of the qualification. (Interim Joint Committee, 2000)

This document, referring to the NCHE Report of 1996, goes on to explain that learning programmes, while necessarily diverse, should be education- ally transformative. Thus they should be planned, coherent and integrated; they should be value adding, building contextually on learner’s existing frames of reference; they should be learner-centred, experiential and out- comes-oriented; they should develop attitudes of critical inquiry and pow- ers of analysis; and they should prepare students for continued learning in a world of technological and cultural change.

Programme, curriculum, course: By programme we mean a coherent set of courses, leading to a certain degree. In a programme we can dis – tinguish a core curriculum and optional courses, together making up the different ways a student can choose to arrive at the degree. (Vroeijenstein: 1995)

A definition of curriculum is more difficult in that it means different things to different people and hence there is often enormous confusion when dis- cussions about curriculum take place. Definitions of curriculum range from rather narrow interpretations to broad, all-encompassing interpretations which include virtually every aspect of the full education system.

It may be helpful to mention a few of these and then try and suggest how the curriculum relates to qualifications and standards as defined in the NQF.

  • The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored. (Hadow Report)
  • The curriculum refers to the teaching and learning activities and experi- ences which are provided by schools (NEPI)
  • A term which includes all aspects of teaching and learning such as the intended outcomes of learning, learning programmes, assessment, methodology (Curriculum Framework for GET and FET)
  • All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried out in groups or individually, inside or outside the school (Kerr, 1968)
  • The overall rationale for the educational programme of an institution

(Kelly, 1989)

  • Contextualised social practice; an on-going social process comprised of the interactions of students, teachers, knowledge and milieu (Cornbleth)

Definitions of curriculum range from rather narrow interpretations to broad, all- encompassing interpretations which include virtually every aspect of the full education system.

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Those responsible for deciding on what learners should learn have in most instances been the same people responsible for

learning programme development and delivery as well as those responsible for deciding whether that delivery process is of quality.

  • The curriculum is understood to be more than syllabus documentation. The term refers to all of the teaching and learning opportunities that take place in learning institutions. It includes:

– The aims and objectives of the education system as well as the spe- cific goals of learning institutions;

– What is taught: the underlying values, the selection of content, how it is arranged into subjects, programmes and syllabuses, and what skills and processes are included;

– The strategies of teaching and learning and the relationships between teachers and learners;

– The forms of assessment and evaluation which are used, and their social effects

– How the curriculum is serviced and resourced, including the organi- sation of learners, and of time and space and the materials and resources that are made available

– How the curriculum reflects the needs and interests of those it serves including learners, teachers, the community, the nation, the employers and the economy. (ANC, 1994)

  • Curriculum then has to do with:

– Determining the purpose and values of the learning

– Analysing the needs and nature of the learners

– Deciding on the outcomes or learning objectives

– Selecting the content, the subject matter that will support achieving the outcomes

– Deciding on the activities, the methods and media for teaching/train- ing and learning

– Planning how assessment will be done

– Planning how the overall effectiveness of the delivery of the curricu- lum will be evaluated (Bellis)

From an observation of these definitions, it is apparent that in the South African  context  particularly,  curriculum  is  a  broad  concept  including aspects such as standards setting, learning programme development and delivery and quality assurance of the delivery process. This broad definition is symptomatic of the practice in South Africa where the creators and guardians of knowledge have tended to be the same people – those respon- sible for deciding on what learners should learn have in most instances been the same people responsible for learning programme development and delivery as well as those responsible for deciding whether that delivery process is of quality.

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Considering Bellis’ definition or description of curriculum, the aspects that are related to standards setting are incorporated in bullets 1, 3 (especially if it were to include assessment criteria) and to some extent, bullet 4. Bullets

2, 4, 5 and 6 relate particularly to the development and delivery of learning programmes. Bullet 7 is predominantly concerned with quality assurance processes. However the point must be made that a consideration of quality and quality assurance is a crucial feature in standards setting i.e. decisions of  what  the  desired  learning  outcomes  of  qualifications  and  standards should be, and definitely is a consideration in learning programme design and delivery. In other words, although the curriculum as such can be sepa- rated into 3 areas i.e. standards setting, programme development and deliv- ery (a focussed perspective of curriculum development) and quality assur- ance, these three are inextricably linked and of necessity relate directly to each other.

The NQF challenges the traditional concept of curriculum development as perceived in the South African context, in that it separates out the three parts: the setting of the standards, the design, delivery and assessment there- of, and the quality assurance processes. However, there is a recognition that the three parts are linked and hence the concept of a quality cycle. In the cycle, the standards developed through the participatory and representative structures and processes of the NSBs and SGBs and then registered on the Framework, will have their delivery and achievement quality assured, for all users of the learning system through the ETQA system. This system in turn, reflects participatory and representative structures and processes. It is in assuring the quality of both the standards and learner achievements that the quality cycle of the Framework is closed. It is through closing the cycle that the system allows ongoing improvements both in the construction of stan- dards and qualifications and in the delivery and assessment of these stan- dards and qualifications, by the users of those standards and qualifications.

In some areas the NQF processes have been perceived as being simply about change in learning programme development and delivery i.e. reform in teaching practice. However, the NQF is primarily about systemic change: how a system is put in place that allows for adaptability, flexibility, respon- siveness and accountability in setting standards; relevance, quality, creativ- ity and accountability in the design and implementation of learning pro- grammes; ensuring that the qualifications and standards and their delivery are of the degree of excellence that is specified.

In fact, the NQF is not about how learning is facilitated in the classroom and none of the NQF processes focus on learning programme development and delivery. The NQF processes focus on the setting of standards and the assur- ance of the quality of learner achievements. It sets in place standards and qualifications which become the starting point for learning programme design, development, and delivery. It establishes a new framework for who asks the questions of what should constitute a qualification or standard and who decides whether what has been done is of the specified degree of excel- lence. The fundamental challenge of the NQF to educators is not in terms of what should be included in a learning programme and how it should be taught and assessed, but in terms of who is included in the decision-making

The NQF challenges the traditional concept of curriculum development as perceived in the South African context, in that it separates out the three parts: the setting of the standards, the design, delivery and assessment thereof, and the quality assurance processes. However, there is a recognition that the three parts are linked and hence the concept of a quality cycle.

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process, and the relationship between different partners in the process i.e. the social milieu in which the curriculum unfolds.

The participatory nature of the NQF processes of standard setting and qual- ity assurance suggests that the responsibility for the success at each stage of the education and training process does not rest solely with those responsi- ble for delivery, but is the responsibility of all who participate in the system.

The participatory nature of the NQF processes of standard setting and quality assurance suggests that the responsibility for the success at each stage of the education and training process does not rest solely

with those responsible for delivery, but is the responsibility of all who participate in the system.

Can the same outcomes be achieved through different learning programmes?

A

standards setting process that is separated from the delivery and qual- ity assurance processes supports the proposition that the same out- comes can be achieved through different learning programmes. There are those who claim that the learning process determines the outcomes and that unless everyone follows the same learning process, the learning outcomes will not be comparable. However there are others who claim that although there will be unintended outcomes that differ from learning experience to learning experience, it is possible to ensure that identified specific outcomes can be achieved by means of a variety of learning programmes and courses. This is possible with proper planning and learning programme design, development and delivery, which would include the employment of appro-

priate assessment strategies.

Some facilitators of learning are of the opinion that different outcomes are inevitable and in fact this is desirable. Hence any attempt to define the learn- ing outcomes to be demonstrated by qualifying learners should be resisted because it is not possible. This opinion is often associated with arguments for academic autonomy. No-one would argue that this approach may be appropriate in some areas of study where the purpose of a qualification is the pursuit and exploration of knowledge for knowledge sake. However in other areas this attitude is irresponsible. In the South African context the process of recognising and giving value to that which has been demonstrat- ed by a learner at a different institution, has often been the cause of great suffering and disillusionment. Recognition pf Prior Learning (RPL) has always been extensively practised throughout higher education and at all universities. Credit has been denied only when there has been clear empiri- cal evidence of unsuccessful previous transfers or of highly deficient levels of learning in place. The tragedy is that there has been no systemic approach on the part of individual sectors or the state to address the real problem in the system namely, that qualifications that are comparable on paper and approved as such for funding and award purposes, are in reality not compa- rable. Instead individual institutions have developed processes of RPL which in fact have highlighted the problem further and learners who are found wanting as a result of these RPL processes, have had to suffer and are still suffering the consequences of the original systems failure. This is inde- fensible. Furthermore, limited financial resources place the responsibility

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on our society to ensure that learners engage in programmes of study that receive national recognition, and are accepted as worthwhile by all appro- priate social institutions.

Through the requirement for articulation in nationally-registered qualifica- tions and standards, the NQF has challenged directly what is perceived to be one of the most problematic social uses of qualifications i.e. the practice of exclusion.

In the NQF paradigm there is an acknowledgement that one qualification can be achieved through different learning programmes. One cannot ignore however the fact that different experiences have a direct impact on the ulti- mate achievement of learning outcomes. On the other hand, it is also true that in no system, not even in a highly centralised system, can this be achieved. Furthermore it is highly debatable whether pursuit of conformity in all aspects on a national scale is desirable. In fact, there are those that argue that the context and the niche that individual institutions occupy mil- itate against the establishment of national standards. Nevertheless there is a strong argument that society needs to be re-assured that if a learner has been awarded a particular qualification, there is a guarantee that that learner has demonstrated applied competence in specific skills and content areas.

If one accepts that achievement of learning outcomes is possible through a variety of learning programmes, then the real challenge lies in the evalua- tion of the learning programme development, delivery and assessment i.e. how effective is the learning programme and assessment that has taken place in ensuring that the degree of excellence specified in the standard or qualification has been met. In other words, is it only those learners who have displayed the registered learning outcomes that have been acknowl- edged as successful?

Providers have traditionally been responsible for all aspects of the learning process i.e. setting the standards including deciding on the skills to be devel- oped and the content to be taught, designing the learning programme, its delivery and its assessment and furthermore, through self-evaluation in those institutions where it was carried out, and in the case of technikons through external evaluation, monitoring the effectiveness of what they did. The primary task of providers is arguably in the area of the design and deliv- ery of learning programmes and the assessment thereof, the primary focus of their expertise. This means that decisions about how to achieve the desired learning outcomes, how to encourage the development of the iden- tified skills and in some cases, choosing the content that best suits the process, should rest in their hands. The NQF supports this. Furthermore the critical role of providers in the standards setting and in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the delivery process is incorporated in the participatory processes of the NQF. The necessity for self-evaluation as a means of ensur- ing real awareness of quality and improvement is emphasised and will be discussed in more detail later.

Nevertheless there is a strong argument that society needs to be re- assured that if a

learner has been awarded a particular qualification, there is a guarantee that that learner has demonstrated applied competence in specific skills and content areas.

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Outcomes-based education means clearly focussing and organising everything in an educational system around what is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences.

What is the relationship between the NQF, learning programme development and delivery and outcomes-based education?

Q

ualifications and standards registered on the NQF are described in terms of the learning outcomes that the qualifying learner is expected

to have demonstrated. Hence there is an underlying commitment to a sys- tem of education and training that is organised around the notion of learn- ing outcomes.

More detailed discussion of the reasons for deciding on this approach are set out in the SAQA publication The NQF An Overview. In short however, the NQF approach with its commitment to outcomes-based education and train- ing is the means that South Africa has chosen to bring about systemic change in the nature of the education and training system – to transform the manner in which it works as a system, how it is organised and the vision that drives participants within the system as they perform their own particular roles and functions within that system. There is an historical imperative in the fragmentation of our society, to focus on what it is that a learner knows and can do rather than where the learner did his or her studying. Furthermore in order to achieve integration and coherence within the sys- tem so that access and portability can become a reality, it is necessary to clearly articulate the outcomes of learning achievements.

When a society finds itself lagging behind other countries in the global mar- ket for example, politicians start to use education reform as a platform for canvassing votes, questioning the validity of what is taught and how it is taught in an effort to improve the country’s economic or social situation. Furthermore, when a new government is elected to power inevitably they engage in so-called education reform. They institute change in the content of the curriculum, a change in the assessment system, the advocacy of new ways of ‘doing things’ in the classroom i.e. they try and find the perfect cur- riculum and the perfect way of delivering that curriculum. In other words, they institute curriculum reform. These reforms then become the focus of criticism from opposition politicians and the cycle begins again. In this process, there is an assumption that is made, particularly by the education sector of society, that necessary systemic change is equivalent to curriculum change. In the approach described, attention is not given to systemic change i.e. the way in which the education and training is organised and managed, but rather to how the curriculum is delivered.

The word outcomes suggests a relationship with outcomes-based education, a philosophy expounded primarily by Spady. Confusion arises because out- comes-based education as discussed by Spady incorporates both ideas i.e. systemic change and curriculum change. To illustrate this, in answer to the question ‘What does the term “Outcomes-based Education” really mean?’, Spady responds as follows:

Outcomes-based  education  means  clearly  focussing  and organising everything in an educational system around what

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is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences. This means starting with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do, then organising curriculum, instruction, and assessment to make sure this learning ultimately happens. (Spady, 1994: pg 1)

The fact that curriculum change i.e. curriculum, instruction, and assessment, is part of systemic change i.e. clearly focussing and organising everything in an educational system, is made clear in this extract. However this dis- tinction is not always clear in discussions in the South African context.

Spady has made the point that outcomes-based education is not about cur- riculum change (Spady 1999). It is about changing the nature of how the education system works – the guiding vision, a set of principles and guide- lines that frame the education and training activities that take place within a system. If one accepts that outcomes-based education is about systemic change, then there is likely to be a dimension that challenges current prac- tices of curriculum development and delivery. However the point needs to be emphasised: outcomes-based education is primarily about systemic change and not curriculum change. The NQF then in its commitment to a system of education and training that is organised around the notion of learning outcomes, is about systemic change.

Spady also states that outcomes-based education is about a consistent, focussed, systematic, creative implementation of four principles:

  • A clarity of focus on the learning outcomes that ultimately students need to demonstrate; Spady calls these complex role performance abil- ities and the corresponding South African conception could possibly be the critical cross-field education and training outcomes. Spady’s map- ping of SAQA’s critical cross-field outcomes to his complex role per- formance abilities is attached as Appendix A.
  • The design-down/build-back approach to building the curriculum; the curriculum design starts with the abilities, skills, knowledge, attitudes that one ultimately wants students to demonstrate and ensures that the assessment is focussed on what the learner has achieved in relation to these learning outcomes rather than focussed on what was presented in the course of delivery.
  • High expectations; the expectation must be that learners are able to achieve these outcomes and therefore it is necessary for those who work in the system to behave and structure what they do in working with learners, in such a way that they are enabled to achieve these outcomes;
  • Expanded opportunity; there is a necessity to move beyond the rigid blocks we have created around education e.g. blocks of time and the tra- ditional organisation of learning institutions. (Spady, 1999)

In the NSB regulations, outcomes are defined as the contextually demon- strated end products of the learning process. Hence in the NQF paradigm,

There is a necessity to move beyond the rigid blocks we have created around education e.g. blocks of time and the

traditional organisation of learning institutions.

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the successful planning and delivery of a learning programme is only pos- sible when the desired endpoint or endpoints are clear i.e. the desired learn- ing outcomes. There are choices to be made within the learning programme design and development in respect of methodology, assessment, technolog- ical resources to be used etc. Within an outcomes-based system, these choic- es need to be governed by the extent to which a particular decision con- tributes ultimately to the achievement of the desired learning outcomes, be they specific or critical outcomes.

One could argue that any education and training system exists on a number of levels and it would be appropriate at this stage to distinguish three them:

In the South African context however, in

1994 the democratic government faced substantial problems in education and training at the systemic level. These problems were so deep-rooted and wide-spread in the system from schooling through to higher education and training that they impacted negatively on actual teaching practice and student learning.

1 The principles governing the system organisation i.e. the value drivers in a system;

2 The principles of pedagogy or the educational philosophy that drives learning programme design, delivery and assessment;

3 Specific learning programme delivery or implementation – pedagogy in the classroom.

Some would argue that (2) should precede (1). In the South African context however, in 1994 the democratic government faced substantial problems in education and training at the systemic level. These problems were so deep- rooted and wide-spread in the system from schooling through to higher edu- cation and training that they impacted negatively on actual teaching practice and student learning. Hence in the South African scenario, the most press- ing need for reform was at the systemic level. This is a pre-requisite for deeper engagement with pedagogy and teaching practices. Hence in order to address the fundamental problems in our system of relevance, integration and coherence, access, articulation, progression and portability, credibility and legitimacy, in a transparent way for all users of the system, the decision was taken to establish a qualifications framework i.e. a set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable recognition of acquired skills and knowledge; the records reflect the required outcomes of the learning process. Hence at the systems organisa- tional level, the NQF determines that a system organised around the notion of learning outcomes will drive education and training in South Africa.

The next stage of concern for those responsible for ensuring that the educa- tion and training system delivers appropriately, is the area of education man- agement and teaching practice. This naturally involves engaging with the pedagogy of outcomes-based education. At this level it is likely that there will be disagreement among practitioners; some will support the education- al philosophy associated with outcomes-based education and the associated teaching strategies while others will deny its effectiveness. This kind of debate is essential in that practitioners are forced to consider the effective- ness of their own practice in relation to different views. However debates at this level must distinguish between outcomes-based education as a driver in systemic reform i.e. transformation, and outcomes-based education as an educational philosophy that governs classroom activity.

At the third level, consideration is focused on the implementation of partic-

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ular learning programmes within the system. Clearly if the practical arrangements for implementation have not addressed all aspects adequately e.g. teacher training, support material, it is illogical to claim that the role of outcomes-based education in systemic transformation is at fault; or the edu- cational principles expounded by proponents of outcomes-based education are invalid. Prof. Jonathan Jansen has convincingly argued that implemen- tation issues, which are not necessarily related to philosophical issues, are at the heart of the success of delivery in an education and training system.

The NQF’s alignment then with outcomes-based education is at the systems organisation level. The NQF philosophy indicates that decisions in respect of learning programme design, development, delivery and assessment need to consider constantly the learning outcomes that learners need to demon- strate. Decisions should not be governed by the input that facilitators can make to the process e.g. special areas of interest, particular attitudes. This is especially true in the design of assessment processes. It can be convincing- ly argued that good facilitators of learning and curriculum developers have always done that – a Janus-faced approach of looking at what the desired learning outcomes are and developing learning programmes in accordance with the available resources thereby ensuring the balance between inputs and outcomes. This cannot be argued as convincingly for assessment prac- tices and this issue will be discussed in more detail later.

There is a need for practitioners to accept that there are assumptions within our systemic structures that may be problematic and ought to be changed e.g. time-based learning programmes rather than learning programmes focused on outcomes; recognising and valuing formal learning within insti- tutions above learning gained in the workplace; assessment models that ignore skills other than reading and writing. The skill of a true educator is the ability to identify the problematic assumptions and develop positive and creative ways of challenging the structures and changing their influence on learners so that they are in a better position to deal with the demands of the real world; that they have education for employability i.e. the ability to adapt acquired skills to new working environments (those ultimate learning outcomes that we would like all learners to demonstrate) and not simply education for employment i.e. the ability to do a specific job. The principles of expanded opportunity and high expectation are particularly relevant.

The danger that threatens the system is that outcomes-based education is per- ceived as a panacea for all ills in the South African education and training sys- tem. This is clearly not the case. The NQF has been created to address spe- cific systemic features, namely a system that created and perpetuated inequity through inappropriate social uses of qualifications, that permitted the delivery of education and training that lacked quality and that prevented adequate par- ticipation in education and training decision-making by important stakehold- ers. The NQF is not a curriculum framework and hence its primary focus is not how the outcomes are achieved. Its primary focus however does include what it is that curricula or more specifically, learning programmes, should aim to achieve – the desired learning outcomes – and the assurance that learners accredited with particular standards and qualifications have demonstrated their ability as specified in the standards and qualifications.

The NQF philosophy indicates that decisions in respect of learning programme design, development, delivery and assessment need to

consider constantly the learning outcomes that learners need to demonstrate.

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In some cases, people maintain that supporters of the NQF or proponents of outcomes-based education claim that outcomes-based education is a panacea for all ills in education and training. In a country like South Africa with its history of deprivation, the nature of the problems that exist in edu- cation and training are multi-faceted, and it would be naïve to contemplate that there is a single solution. The problems are many and the solutions rest in numerous initiatives, arguably the most significant of which is the NQF.

In a country like South Africa with its history of deprivation, the nature of the problems that exist in education and training are multi- faceted, and it would be naïve to

contemplate that there is a single solution.

How does the NQF description of a qualification impact on learning programme development?

I

n the NSB regulations, a qualification is described as follows: A qualification shall

  • represent a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualify- ing learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning;
  • add value to qualifying learner in terms of enrichment of the person through provision of status, recognition, credentials and licensing, mar- ketability and employability; and opening-up of access routes to addi- tional education and training;
  • provide benefits to society and the economy through enhancing citizen- ship, increasing social and economic productivity, providing specifical- ly skilled/professional people and transforming and redressing legacies of inequity;
  • comply with objectives  of  the  NQF  contained  in  section  2  of  the

(SAQA) Act;

  • have both specific and critical cross-field outcomes that promote life- long learning;
  • where applicable, be internationally comparable;
  • incorporate integrated assessment appropriately to ensure that the pur- pose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment shall use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simu- lations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations;
  • indicate in the rules governing the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recogni- tion of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learn- ing outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learn- ing and work experience.

Not all eight points are directly related to curriculum development and delivery. However it is arguable that curriculum developers cannot ignore any of these aspects and in fact, should make every effort to ensure that they

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are considered in the learning programme development, delivery and assessment. It may be helpful to explore some of the features of a qualifi- cation in more detail.

Planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined purpose

Every qualification and standard that is registered on the framework must have a declared purpose. Once the purpose of the qualification is defined, learning programme developers are provided with a clear indication of the focus area. The purpose may be as specific or as flexible as the crafters of the qualification wish: a qualification geared to a specific task e.g. a blast- ing certificate, will have a specific, direct purpose while another qualifica- tion may have as its purpose, the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge sake, the development of formative thinking skills.

Not only must the purpose be clear. The combination of learning outcomes must be acquired systematically, in a planned programme of learning to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is met. There is an awareness of the pitfall of the shopping-basket approach to qualification acquisition i.e. a process whereby a learner accumulates credits for achieved outcomes, but the combination has happened in such a way that the achievement is mean- ingless in respect of the purpose of the qualification. This pitfall has been pointed out on numerous occasions and is one of the reasons given for rejecting the unit-standard model of qualification structure. Hence in the design and delivery of the learning programmes the ultimate purpose of the qualification must be kept, to ensure the articulation that is intended in the framework. The assessment processes in particular are crucial to ensure that there is an alignment between the purpose of the qualification and the way in which the learning outcomes are assessed and learners are accredited. The role of rules of combination in standards setting, responsible learning pro- gramme development and delivery, integrated assessment and effective quality assurance processes are critical in avoiding this pitfall. The intention of the whole qualification is not necessarily achieved by the achievement of its parts.

By the same token, the purpose of whole qualifications that are not struc- tured using unit-standards, can subsume the parts to such an extent that articulation between qualifications, access, progress and portability within the system are virtually impossible. The pitfall in such a system is that it favours a particular way of learning – following a continuous programme over a period of time, usually a few years, which culminates in a qualifica- tion that is institution-specific. Attention must be given to the accreditation of learners who have demonstrated specific learning outcomes and who choose, for whatever reason, to leave a particular institution or to leave fur- ther study, with the intention of continuing study at a later stage or at anoth- er institution. This problem is especially prevalent in higher education and training where the perception exists that learners’ acceptance in another institution at a later stage is not necessarily determined by the actual learn- ing they have gained previously but by criteria determined by the institution

Not only must the purpose be clear. The combination of learning outcomes must be acquired systematically, in a

planned programme of learning to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is met.

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at which they wish to register, based on their own perceptions of the quali- ty of the courses they have followed. By suggesting that different institu- tions meet the needs of different contexts and niche markets while at the same time awarding qualifications that share the same names, one avoids directly confronting the underlying perceptions about differences in the quality of delivery and assessment within the system and then addressing them. The lack of transparency in exposing the systemic problems, which seem evident from the RPL practices of some institutions, does not posi- tively promote the development of a culture of life-long learning.

The debate about the pros and cons of each model for qualification con- struction are endless. For the successful implementation of the NQF, it is enough for curriculum developers to acknowledge that both approaches exist and in the development, delivery and assessment of learning programmes for the particular qualification they are working with, they need to be aware of the associated problems and ensure that the pitfalls are obviated.

Applied competence is defined as the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

It is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning

In the NSB regulations, applied competence is defined as the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

The concept suggests that foundational competence, practical competence and reflexive competence are all necessary for the meaningful accomplish- ment of a task in any real world context. Foundational competence is described as an understanding of what is being done and why. Practical competence is described as a demonstrated ability to do a particular thing. Reflexive competence is described as a demonstrated ability to integrate or connect performance with the understanding of that performance so as to learn from the actions and adapt to change and unforeseen circumstances. Ian Bellis defines competence as a skill or cluster of skills, carried out in an indicated context to standards of performance, of understanding in context, of understanding the system and of transferring the skills to other related contexts. He has also indicated that this approach is not new: “The ideas and the practice have been around for well over twenty years”.

The  notion  of  applied  competence  indicates  that  a  qualification  must address both the ‘theory’ needs as well as the practical needs of learners. A qualifying learner must be able to understand as well as do something use- ful with the knowledge, in a real-world context – the balance between the needs of the individual and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

The word ‘competence’ in outcomes-based education or competency mod- els is accused of narrowness, focused on action with little attention to the understanding or the moral issues surrounding the action. Criticisms of operationalism and marketisation of knowledge are often levelled at out- comes-based systems. It may be worth recalling Barnett’s statement in this regard:

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The new vocabulary in higher education is a sign that mod- ern society is reaching for other definitions of knowledge and reasoning. Notions of skill, vocationalism, transferabi- lity, competence, outcomes, experiential learning capability and enterprise, when taken together, are indications that tra- ditional definitions of knowledge are felt to be inadequate for meeting the systems-wide problems faced by contempo- rary society. Whereas those traditional definitions of know- ledge have emphasised language, especially through writ- ing, an open process of communication, and formal and dis- cipline-bound conventions, the new terminology urges high- er education to allow the term knowledge to embrace know- ledge-through-action, particular outcomes of a learning transaction, and transdisciplinary forms of skill

(Barnett, 1994: 71)

There has been a broadening of the concept of ‘competence’ to embrace the notion of applied competence. The behaviouralist limitations that have dogged competency models to date exist only if irresponsible educators pro- mote them. It rests in the hands of learning programme developers and implementers to ensure that learning does not become narrow, behaviourist and devoid of critical thought. The curriculum principle of praxis – the inte- gration of action and reflection in a particular context, is consistent with this understanding of competence. Critical self-evaluation ought to reveal short- comings in this area.

The concept of applied competence incorporates the notion that there are different kinds of knowledge. Gibbons et al. have identified two modes of knowledge i.e. Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 1 knowledge tends to be homog- enous, rooted in disciplines, hierarchically structured and coded according to the canonical rules of specific disciplines. It is usually transmitted from disciplinary expert to novice and problems are usually set and solved with- in the academic community. Mode 2 knowledge on the other hand is non- hierarchical, inter- or trans-disciplinary, fast changing, contextualised and socially responsive. Problems arise in society and are solved in the context of application. Gibbons et al. have described the shift that is occurring inter- nationally from Mode 1 to Mode 2 forms of knowledge production.

It has been suggested that most learning programmes do provide learners with propositional knowledge or foundational competence. However with- in the context of applied competence, they should also offer learners oppor- tunities to gain practical competence, not only in controlled and defined environments as indicated in the description of Mode 1 knowledge, but also outside the safety of the classroom and laboratory, in real-world contexts, where learners will be required to adapt and re-contextualise their learning to function successfully in complex and unpredictable circumstances. These opportunities enable the development of reflexive competence and self- improvement. In the assessment of learners too the notion of applied com- petence is often ignored and assessment focuses on foundational compe-

Whereas those traditional definitions of knowledge have emphasised language, especially through writing, an open process of communication, and formal and discipline-

bound conventions, the new terminology urges higher education to allow the term knowledge to embrace knowledge-through- action, particular outcomes of a learning transaction, and transdisciplinary forms of skill

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tence or in limited cases, practical competence. Rarely is assessment direct- ed at reflexive competence.

There are those who argue that the NQF processes through the emphasis on outcomes, side-steps the issue of values in the curriculum. It could also be argued however that reflexive competence requires learners to reflect on their learning experience critically, in terms of the values espoused by a democratic society. Certainly the objectives of the NQF and the values embedded in the critical outcomes would suggest that reflexive competence within the NQF includes a consideration of the learning experience within a value system, the ethical implications of particular practices and the atten- dant social responsibilities.

It is mandatory for standards setters to incorporate at least some of the Critical Outcomes in the standards that they recommend and proposers of qualifications must ensure that all Critical Outcomes have been addressed appropriately at the level concerned within

the qualifications being proposed.

It is the duty of responsible educators to ensure that this educationally sound interpretation of outcomes and competence is not neglected in a system that is socially negotiated. This imperative exists at each stage of the education and training process: standards setting, implementation and assessment and quality assurance.

Critical cross-field education and training outcomes

The Critical Cross-field Education and Training Outcomes, commonly known as the Critical Outcomes, are an additional mechanism through which coherence is achieved in the framework. These Critical Outcomes describe the qualities which the NQF identifies for development in students within the education and training system, regardless of the specific area or content of learning i.e. those outcomes that are deemed critical for the development of the capacity for life-long learning. These outcomes are intended to direct the thinking of policy makers, curriculum designers, facil- itators of learning as well as the learners themselves.

It is mandatory for standards setters to incorporate at least some of the Critical Outcomes in the standards that they recommend and proposers of qualifications must ensure that all Critical Outcomes have been addressed appropriately at the level concerned within the qualifications being proposed.

These are the Critical Outcomes adopted by SAQA:

  • Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made.
  • Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisa- tion, community.
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effec- tively.
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information.
  • Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written presentation.
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing respon- sibility towards the environment and health of others.

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  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
  • In order to contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the society at large, it must be the intention underlying any programme of learning to make an indi- vidual aware of the importance of:

– Reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effec- tively;

– Participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities;

– Being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts;

– Exploring education and career opportunities, and

– Developing entrepreneurial opportunities.

Some outcomes are specific to the qualification e.g. an electrician must know certain things. However if life-long learning is a principle underpin- ning the education and training system in our country, then the electrician must acquire certain other skills e.g. information analysis, and problem solving. If another principle underpinning the education and training system is the meaningful contribution of citizens in social institutions, by display- ing tolerance and ensuring the social and economic success of our country, it is critical that he/she has other skills e.g. working effectively with others, communication, using science and technology effectively and critically, understanding the world as a set of related systems, participating as a responsible citizen in the life of the community. Furthermore if he/she is to ensure self development, there are other skills that need to be developed e.g. managing oneself, employing strategies to learn more effectively, being cul- turally and aesthetically aware, and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities.

The intention of the education and training reforms in our society demand that learning programme developers do not give undue attention to the needs of an occupation at the expense of society’s needs and the needs of the individual. The fifth objective of the NQF reflects this i.e. to contribute to the full development of each learner and the social and economic devel- opment of the nation at large. By the same token, the so-called generalist qualifications can no longer ignore the requirements for individuals to have an occupation; nor can they ignore society’s need for its members to con- tribute fully to its processes in the economic, political and social arenas, in favour of the development of the individual.

When a qualification is registered, there is a requirement for the critical out- comes to be articulated. Therefore in developing learning programmes, they cannot be ignored. Programme developers need to ensure that the learning programmes accommodate opportunities to develop and assess the critical outcomes and in the evaluation of the delivery of the learning programme, there will be a need for a focus on the extent to which attention has been

Programme developers need to ensure that the learning programmes accommodate opportunities to

develop and assess the critical outcomes.

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A bachelor degree whether in science, the arts or commerce field is still a bachelor degree, making comparable demands on learners in the critical outcomes, regardless of the context.

given to this aspect. There is no prescription in any of the SAQA regulations or requirements of how these outcomes are to be incorporated and devel- oped. However in the description of the outcomes and the assessment crite- ria within a qualification or standard, there may be some leading indications in respect of how these critical outcomes will be assessed. Since the quali- fications and standards focus on the learning outcomes, the methodology of how the critical outcomes will be developed within context, is in the hands of the practitioners. Accredited ETQAs will have the responsibility of eval- uating the learning programmes including the assessment practices, to determine the extent to which the assessment processes meet the require- ments as stipulated in the qualification registered on the NQF, and hence how successfully the critical outcomes have been addressed.

There are some interesting points in respect of the incorporation of critical cross-field outcomes into learning programmes that need to be considered. The critical outcomes, sometimes called generic skills or essential skills or core skills, have been deemed problematic for learning programme devel- opers on two counts. The first is ‘the impossibility of decontextualising statements about core skills with any meaning’ (Wolf). Nuttall and Goldstein have summarised the problem as follows: The difficulty with such out-of-context descriptions is that they are too poorly defined to ensure comparability, and the more precisely defined they become, the more root- ed in context they become. The problem is not so much that these skills do not exist or that they cannot be identified, but rather that they are, by defi- nition, inseparable from the contexts in which they are developed and dis- played. The separation of a critical outcome from a specific outcome e.g. problem-solving in a the context of electricians work or law, does not nec- essarily give the concept independent value. The nature of problem-solving in law is different from the nature of problem-solving in electricians work. Others however would argue that regardless of context there are common features in approach, attitude, process and management that are common in all successful problem-solving contexts.

The level of complexity in respect of the critical outcomes is seen as one way of comparing qualifications and allocating qualifications and standards to levels. The level descriptor debate is hence associated with critical cross- field education and training outcomes, their definition and testing their value in a decontextualised situation. The claim is that it is impossible to assign qualifications to levels in a consistent and comparable fashion, using the critical outcomes as a means of judgement. Others say that this is possi- ble – a bachelor degree whether in science, the arts or commerce field is still a bachelor degree, making comparable demands on learners in the critical outcomes, regardless of the context.

SAQA is encouraging debate around these issues and exploration of the possibilities. A SAQA document, “Towards the development of level descriptors in the NQF: A point of departure”, which engages in some of the issues around level descriptors has been placed in the public arena, with the primary purpose of stimulating this debate.

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Integrated assessment

In the NSB regulations, integrated assessment means that form of assess- ment that permits the learner to demonstrate applied competence and which uses a range of formative and summative assessment methods.

This is one area in which SAQA has made a direct statement about how something should be done. In all other areas, SAQA has attempted to pro- vide the underpinning attitudes and principles and has purposefully avoided direct statements of how particular processes must be done or how particu- lar outcomes must be achieved. This arises from a belief that how something is done requires the expertise of learning programme developers and teacher practitioners. However, the history of assessment and how assessment results have been used in this country raise some important questions about the appropriateness of the dominant assessment model of our country and the social uses of assessment results.

SAQA in the NSB regulations, has made a direct statement about assess- ment methodology. It has indicated that integrated assessment must be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment must use a range of formative and summa- tive assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations. Too often have we heard the criticism: “he knows the theory but cannot apply his knowledge in a work situation” or “he has matric English but can’t write a letter/fill in a form!” Furthermore, some qualifications mean that a student is assessed in discrete parts and the assumption – or is a leap of faith? – is that the overall purpose of the qualification has been achieved – the whole is the sum of the parts. This assumption also assumes that the purpose of the qualification is clear.

A prime example is the Senior Certificate examination. In this process, a learner is assessed separately in six subjects, often with two or three papers within each subject. The linkages between the separate papers within a sub- ject are often not clear, and certainly the linkages between assessment in the different subjects is not clear. Furthermore there is no clear indication of the purpose of the qualification as a whole. In fact, currently it appears to serve two very different purposes. On the one hand, it serves as a school leaving examination, which is arguably a statement of achievement or minimum competence, while on the other hand, it serves as a university entrance examination, which is arguably a comment about potential for further study. Accepting that the method of assessment should fit the purpose for which the results will be used, one could argue that in the Senior Certificate assess- ment process, there are two conflicting purposes and therefore these two purposes cannot be met using the same assessment instrument.

One can debate at length the meaning of the phrase ‘a range of formative and summative assessment’ – what does formative mean in the context of a qualification? The rather worn-out cliché, of a pilot in order to be awarded a licence, must have developed the skills of taking off as well as landing illustrates the dilemma. However in this statement SAQA is drawing atten- tion to the popular trend in South Africa of conducting once-off written examinations, in order to make decisions about the award of qualifications,

Integrated assessment must be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment must use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations.

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and rarely assessing the breadth of skills that are deemed important. Furthermore the statement supports the sentiment that learners should be provided with more than one opportunity to display their knowledge in the process of their study, since a once-off written examination does not provide students with an opportunity to find out where the gaps in their learning are; furthermore if a once-off examination is conducted at the end of the learn- ing programme there is no allowance for remediation; that learners should be provided with a variety of contexts in which to display their knowledge since a once-off written examination does not provide for the assessment of skills that are not suited to that mode of assessment .

SAQA through its standards setting and quality assurance processes will however be looking for variation from a final end-of- course written examination as the determining, qualifying assessment method.

The high failure rate among Grade 12 candidates at Senior Certificate level is witness to the need for assessment reform. Perhaps the introduction of continuous assessment systems, which should not be confused with contin- uous testing, aimed at reducing the failure rate by improving candidates chances of passing during the period of preparation, will go some way to addressing this problem. The introduction of a continuous assessment sys- tem is sometimes interpreted as a lowering of expectations or standards. It should rather be seen as a means of encouraging a system which has not given attention to assessment, to focus on the need for valid and reliable assessment which can assist learners in understanding what is expected of them. In this way it may be possible to improve the functional ability of the work force.

SAQA has been specific about the particular types of assessment e.g. port- folios. It is however up to the practitioners in the field to exercise their minds on the question of what is appropriate, feasible and manageable. SAQA through its standards setting and quality assurance processes will however be looking for variation from a final end-of-course written exami- nation as the determining, qualifying assessment method.

Integrated assessment incorporates not only foundation, practical and reflexive competence but also looks to bringing overall purpose of the qual- ification under scrutiny – to what extent have the parts produced the whole. Meg Pahad notes that improvement in assessment practice as described in assessment guidelines and policies cannot be implemented unless teachers understand why they are assessing, what they are assessing, and how to assess in a manner appropriate to the purpose of the assessment (Pg 248). The separation of assessment method from the purpose of the task and the purpose of the overall learning experience results in discrete assessment and achievement which has little or no meaning in respect of applied compe- tence.

The SAQA document “Guidelines for the assessment of NQF registered unit standards and qualifications” has been placed in the public arena. For more detailed discussion of the issues surrounding assessment, please refer to that document. Copies are available from the SAQA Offices or from the website (http://www.saqa.org.za).

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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Among the objectives of the NQF are the need to facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths as well as the need to accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in educa- tion, training and employment opportunities. SAQA is challenged to find a way in which these two objectives can be met, to find a way to recognise the learning that has taken place outside traditional learning contexts, pre- viously the only learning contexts that were formally recognised. SAQA has indicated its intention to engage its structures in the area of RPL as a means of giving practical meaning to these objectives.

Standards and qualifications are the starting points for learning programme development. These documents provide guidance for assessors in that they indicate very clearly what needs to be assessed; they provide guidance for learners in that they give a clear indication of the learning outcomes to be developed and assessed; furthermore they are a guide for facilitators of learning and learning programme developers in that the standards and qual- ifications provide the purpose for which a learning programme is being con- structed and thereby indicate how the different learning outcomes and asso- ciated assessment criteria meet the purpose.

RPL has essentially two aspects. The first is the ability for learners through RPL to be accredited with certain learning achievements. The second is the assessment of learners through RPL to gauge their potential for entry to a specific learning programme. If the objectives of facilitating access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths as well as accelerating the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, train- ing and employment opportunities are to be met, then exploring ways in which both these aspects can be addressed in learning programme design especially in respect of assessment, is critical. Traditional methods of assessment e.g. written examinations are an option for learners who have experienced learning in formal institutions. However they are not helpful for learners who have gained skills outside the formal learning institutions and often serve only to entrench barriers to progression. It is on these learn- ers that RPL pilots and research should focus.

To engage meaningfully with RPL, learning programme developers will need to engage with the rather complex issues of RPL and will need to engage in the myriad debates that surround this very challenging area, if in the delivery process, the needs of learners who have followed alternate routes to the formal education path are to be met.

Credits

In the NSB regulations, credit means that value assigned by the Authority to ten (10) notional hours of learning, and notional hours of learning means the learning time that it is conceived it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined, and includes concepts such as con- tact time, time spent in structured learning in the workplace and individ- ual learning.

RPL has essentially two aspects. The first is the ability for learners through RPL to be accredited with certain learning achievements. The second is the

assessment of learners through RPL to gauge their potential for entry to a specific learning programme.

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This concept is one that is easily mis-interpreted and frequently leads to an interpretation of qualification structure based on time spent (determined by the time historically assigned to a specific qualification) rather than an analysis of learning outcomes e.g. a two-year qualification should be on one level while a three-year qualification must be on a higher level.

The assumption then is that education – the grasping of concepts and understanding – is time bound. Hence the confusion of time arises whereby time is perceived to be a significant feature in these two concepts when in fact they are not time-related at all.

The difficulty arises from the fact that when one talks about the value in the context of a standard or qualification, one is referring to the importance that a specific aspect plays in the bigger picture of the qualification. Furthermore the level of difficulty demanded by mastery of the skills and content also has an impact on the positioning of standards or qualifications at particular lev- els and the selection of a credit weighting. The problem arises because there are no units of measurement for either of these concepts, as one has specif- ic units of measurement for more concrete concepts such as distance and speed.

What happens then, in the case of ‘important’ concepts, is that teachers indi- cate the importance to learners by spending more teaching time in the class- room on the concept, providing lots of drilling exercises, to ensure that stu- dents ‘know it’. In the case of concepts that are deemed to be difficult, teachers provide a greater length of time in their planning to enable learners to have enough time and opportunity to spend in trying to grasp the con- cepts. The assumption then is that education – the grasping of concepts and understanding – is time bound. Hence the confusion of time arises whereby time is perceived to be a significant feature in these two concepts when in fact they are not time-related at all.

The concept of notional hours of learning which result in the award of cred- its is a concept that can really upset the principle intentions of an outcomes- based system simply because it is so easily mis-understood to mean real time or contact time or actual teaching and learning time rather than a notion that incorporates two concepts that are not time-related at all i.e. level of diffi- culty and the value of the learning experience to the qualification as a whole.

Learning assumed to be in place

Because of the assumption that learning is time-bound and the traditional practice of having a fixed curriculum that all learners at an institution should follow, a further assumption is made i.e. if a student has reached a particu- lar point in learning, there are distinct assumptions that are made about his/her knowledge base. For example, a child who enters Grade 3 is assumed to have developed specific language and mathematical abilities, for example, i.e. the abilities outlined in the Grade 2 learning programme.

In reality learning theory has indicated that different learning levels are pos- sible in children of the same age and who have ostensibly been exposed to the same learning conditions. This concept becomes more marked as learn- ers move through the system. This is because children come to learning sit- uations with different experiences, they see and assimilate new knowledge differently and learn at different rates, in different ways. Hence to assume that two children who enter Grade 3 have the same understandings of the

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Grade 2 learning experience is problematic. However learning is organised into year long, module long sections and embarking on one section presup- poses uniform understanding of preceding components. To look at a picture:

Grade 4

Grade 3

Grade 2

Grade 1

Reality                          Assumption

Developments in the field of learning theory have challenged time-bound study by recognising that there are multiple intelligences, that individuals learn in different ways, that they learn at different rates. Hence the structur- al organisation of learning and hence delivery, into time-based sections is inappropriate for the diverse student body that education systems have to accommodate. The assumption that time is a determining factor in the acquisition of knowledge and mastery of skills needs to be confronted.

Many argue however that organising learning into time-based sections reflect- ing the academic year or term is the only feasible way in which to manage learning of a large mass of students; formal institutions need to be organised so that a structured time-table for delivery and assessment can be instituted.

To look at this from another angle then, one cannot ignore the impractical nature of formal institutions for providing experience in real-life situations. This is recognised in fields like medicine, law, accounting and teaching where programmes of learning require that students spend time in actual work environments: the internship year for doctors, articles for aspiring lawyers and accountants, teaching practice in schools for student teachers. This is a tacit acknowledgement that formal institutions provide only one perspective on the nature of learning while the world of work provides another. It is not only the world of work that can provide learning opportu- nities, but also participation in community service. The point is that if one accepts that life-long learning embraces the concept that learning takes place all through one’s life, in a variety of contexts which provide alterna- tive perspectives on the apparent truths that are gathered in formal study in a structured environment, then one must accept that there are multiple sites

Developments in the field of learning theory have challenged time- bound study by recognising that there are multiple intelligences, that individuals learn in different ways, that they learn at different rates.

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CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

of learning and that relevant learning achieved outside the walls of formal institutions needs formal recognition as valid learning experiences. For this reason to assume that learning must be organised and hence delivered in time-based modules because that is the best way for formal institutions to be organised, is to deny the existence of other sites and ways of learning. As Kathy Luckett points out, “the need to accommodate the notion of life-long learning mean(s) that this qualification structure predicated on a ‘year- cohort model’ has become anachronistic. The need to reorganise our insti- tutional time and space (curriculum structure) has become critical”

“The need to accommodate the notion of life-long learning mean(s) that this qualification structure predicated on a ‘year-cohort model’ has become anachronistic. The

need to reorganise our institutional time and space (curriculum structure) has become critical”

Learning programme developers would be wise to take cognisance of the reality that learners learn differently and come to a learning experience with different levels of understanding and build in appropriate assessment processes to assess what students know rather than assess what they do not know, and avoid making assumptions about their knowledge base. Teaching strategies naturally should also take this reality into account. In fact, it could be argued that the successful implementation of the NQF requires that these assumptions are made explicit, so that learners and teachers can work together to ensure the achievement of all learning outcomes deemed neces- sary – Spady’s principle of high expectation.

Conclusion

I

n  conclusion  the  following  observation  is  relevant.  The  past  South African education system, including those schools and institutions that have been recognised for academic excellence internationally, did not nec- essarily produce critically aware citizens: the span of the apartheid era is sufficient witness to this. On the broader front, one cannot ignore the com- mon experience of many learners which is witness to educationally unsound practices. A recent report on the state of the South African workforce in the Sunday Times Business Times (5/12/99) seems to substantiate this. In the article ‘Skills Shortages in the SA Labour Market’ it was reported that 76% of the 273 organisations surveyed, didn’t have adequate skilled human resources; 54% of organisations needing engineers have experienced prob- lems in recruiting these professionals; 50% of those organisations which employ IT professionals have shortages; there are specific shortages in mathematics and mathematics-related occupations. This report on skills within the current labour force reflects the problems of our past; there has not been enough time to test the initiatives of the democratic government. Often criticism of the new is characterised by a suggestion that the ways of the past are tried and tested; that what has been done provided quality edu- cation; that the current programmes which are based on past practice, deliv- er people with the skills that are needed in our society. The current situation in South Africa as described in this report is a product of a system that clear- ly did not deliver for the majority of learners in the country. It is the respon- sibility of every South African to acknowledge this and dedicate themselves

to finding better ways of doing things.

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References

  • Foxcroft C D, Elkonin D S, and Kota P: Undergraduate Training: The Development and Implementation of an Outcomes-based Degree Programme in Psychology, paper presented at a workshop on the NQF and Higher Education Institutions, (Oct-Nov, 1997)
  • Luckett, K: Towards  a  Model  of  Curriculum  Development  for  the

University of Natal’s Curriculum Reform project, (unpublished paper)

  • The SAQA Act (No. 58 of 1995) – Government Gazette No. 1521 (4

October 1995)

  • The NSB Regulations – Government Gazette No. 18787 (28 March

1998)

  • The ETQA Regulations – Government Gazette No. 19231 (8 September

1998)

  • The NQF: An overview, a SAQA publication February (2000)
  • Cornbleth C: Curriculum in context, New York, Falmer Press 1990
  • Gibbons M et al: The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies, California, Sage, 1994
  • Wolf A: Assessing  Core  Skills:  wisdom  or  wild  goose  chase?, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 21, No2, 1991
  • Bellis I: The Quality of the Journey: The NQF and the provision of learning programmes and courses (unpublished)
  • Curriculum Framework for GET and FET, Dept. of Education, 1996
  • Spady W: Outcomes-based education: The way forward, a presentation to the Western Cape Education Department (Video)
  • Spady W: Outcomes-based Education: Critical Issues and Answers The

American Association of School Administrators, 1994

  • Gordon A: Curriculum Frameworks for the General Phase of Education

Centre for Education Policy Development, 1995

  • Edited: Jansen J  and  Christie  P:  Changing  Curriculum:  Studies  on

Outcomes-based Education in South Africa Juta and Co., 1999

  • Vroeijenstein A I:  Improvement  and  Accountability:  Navigating between Scylla and Charybdis: Guide for external quality assessment in higher education Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1995

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CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

Appendix  A

PUTTING THE FIVE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA) “LIFE-ROLE  APPLICATION” CRITICAL OUTCOMES INTO ACTION

(Integrated with the Spady “Total Learner” Framework) Developed by Des Collier and William Spady

The Delta Foundation Enterprising Youth and OBE Initiatives

Capable Entrepreneurial Life-Role Performers (Creative

Learners) Are:

Resourceful, future-focused Opportunity Creators, guided by an ethos of initiative and innovation, who:

  • Independently collect, analyze, organize, and critically evaluate emerg- ing trends and possibilities in various fields for their entrepreneurial potential.
  • Routinely look beyond conventional approaches and understandings to reveal the unexplored potential in all life situations.
  • Purposefully locate and assess information on current and emerging work and income-generating opportunities and create innovative ways to capitalize on them.
  • Continuously assess existing business practices and propose innovative ways to expand and improve them.
  • Adeptly use any available resources to legitimately generate personal and community income.

Capable Career Life-Role Performers (Performance Learners) Are:

Adept, productive Career Performers, guided by an ethos of diligence and quality, who:

  • Consistently set high performance goals for themselves and work until they are accomplished.
  • Independently research the challenges that career professionals face in their fields and the standards they must maintain to be successful.

28                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

  • Consistently use these professional standards and the most advanced methods in their fields to assess and complete their work.
  • Gather and effectively utilize the people, resources, and technologies need for accomplishing projects successfully within agreed-upon time and resource constraints.
  • Periodically update a portfolio of their strongest personal aptitudes, technical skills, and accomplishments and present it to potential employers for evaluation.

Capable Personal Life-Role Performers (Inner Learners) Are:

Conscientious, self-directed Life Managers, guided by an ethos of reflection and improvement, who:

  • Insightfully assess  their  unique  personal  qualities  and  explain  how strengthening them will open doors to continued learning and life suc- cess.
  • Perceptively identify the ways they learn best and consistently employ them as tools for on-going growth and improvement.
  • Consistently probe new information, ideas, and experiences for their deeper meaning and connection to their desired quality of life.
  • Regularly initiate and sustain endeavors that strengthen their skills, health, quality of life, and opportunities for advancement.
  • Consistently manage their time to allow for regular periods of study, exercise, and self-improvement in their daily lives.
  • Sensibly select and consume foods and nutrients that contribute to their long-term health and well-being.
  • Consistently make prudent financial planning and personal expenditure decisions.

Capable Peer Life-Role Performers (Collaborative Learners) Are:

Forthright, collaborative Team Members, guided by an ethos of honesty and reliability, who:

  • Actively develop joint projects with their peers in which plans and responsibilities are clearly defined, equitably shared, and reliably car- ried out by all members.
  • Adeptly apply leadership skills and knowledge of effective teamwork to accomplish team goals.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

  • Consistently fulfil commitments, without excuses, and support others in doing the same.
  • Actively listen to the intent and spirit of others’ words and consistently offer them constructive feedback and suggestions when appropriate.
  • Skilfully use a variety of means and strategies to communicate clearly in all situations.
  • Consciously take into account the interests and viewpoints of all parties in openly airing disagreements, and consistently work to resolve them ethically and equitably.

Capable Citizen Life-Role Performers (Service Learners) Are:

Active, responsible Community Contributors, guided by an ethos of caring and commitment, who:

  • Sensitively address the country’s problems by respecting and advocat- ing the democratic rights of all.
  • Consistently stand firm in the face of challenges and pressures in advo- cating causes affecting the common good.
  • Freely devote their time, talents, and knowledge to improving the envi- ronment and the health and well-being of others.
  • Actively work with others in their community to maintain or improve the quality of understanding and living in the world around them.
  • Persistently seek  and  employ  ways  to  address  and  solve  problems affecting the well being of their local communities and global environ- ment.

For more information on using the SAQA Critical Outcomes framework creatively and productively, on Transformational Outcome-Based Education, or on the Delta Foundation’s Enterprising Youth and OBE Initiatives, phone Des Collier in South Africa at 083-269-4242, or William Spady in the U.S. at 970-262-1935.

30                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

The Delta Foundation

Enterprising Youth Initiative – Curriculum Planning

Enabling Outcomes Making success happen
Acting

Entrepreneurially

12

Applying

Career Expertise

11

Working

Together

1

Applying

Myself Fully

3,8

Creating a

Better World

6,9

Thinking and Orientations

7,10

Creative Qualitative Empathic Ethical Systemic
Mastering Essential

Knowledge

Mastering Specific Skills
Communicating Effectively

5

Using Maths Effectively
Using smart Technologies

6

Making Strategic Decisions

1,4

Resourceful, future-focused Opportunity Creators who… Adept, productive Career Performers who… Forthright, collaborative Team Members who… Conscientious, self-directed Life Managers who… Active, responsible Community Contributors who…

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Download a copy directly form the SAQA Website:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2002/rpl_sanqf.pdf

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context

of the South African National Qualifications Framework

P0LICY DOCUMENT

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the

South African

National Qualifications Framework

THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY

Please refer any queries in writing to:

The Executive Officer

SAQA

Attention:  The Director: Quality Assurance and Development

RE:           Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Postnet Suite 248

Private Bag X06

BROOKLYN

0145

Pretoria

SOUTH AFRICA

e-mail:     

Website: www.saqa.org.za

Adopted by the South African Qualifications Authority on 12 June 2002

Decision SAQA 0242/02

ISBN: 0-9584572-1-2

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction  and Development

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the funder

Table of Contents

Acronyms and abbreviations used in this document                     4

Terms and definitions                                                                        5

Executive summary                                                                            7

Structure of the document                                                9

Chapter 1:     Underlying principles and philosophy

Introduction                                                                    11

1.1   A holistic approach to the process and execution

of assessment                                                       11

1.2   A developmental and incremental approach to

the implementation of RPL                                     12

1.3   The differing contexts within which RPL are implemented 13

1.4   Opening up of access to education and training

and redress of past injustices                                 14

1.5   The dynamic nature of the construction of

knowledge in a mature system                                 15

Chapter 2:     Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL

Introduction                                                                    17

2.1   Institutional policy and environment 18
2.2   Services and support to learners 20
2.3   Training and registration of assessors and key personnel 22
2.4   Methods and processes of assessment 24
2.5   Quality Management Systems 26
2.6   Fees for RPL services 28
2.7   RPL and Curriculum Development 29
Summary 30
Chapter 3: A strategic framework for implementation

Introduction

31
3.1   Strategic framework 32
3.2   Conclusion 32
Appendix A: Example of a generic RPL process 33
Appendix B: Unit standards 35
Appendix C: Models and issues for practice 47

List of sources                                                                                 52

Acronyms and abbreviations used in this document

APL                  Assessment of Prior Learning

APEL                Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning CAEL    Council for Adult and Experiential Learning CETA        Construction Education and Training Authority COSATU             Congress of South African Trade Unions

CTP                  Committee of Technikon Principals

DTI                   Department of Trade and Industry

ETQA               Education and Training Quality Assurance body

EVC                 Erkennen van elders of informeel Verworven Competenties

FET                  Further Education and Training FNTI                 First Nations Technical Institute HE                    Higher Education

HEQC               Higher Education Quality Committee

MEIETB           Metal and Engineering Industries Education and Training Board

MERSETA        Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and

Training Authority

NGO                 Non-governmental organisation NQF           National Qualifications Framework NSA        National Skills Authority

NSB                  National Standards Body

NUM                National Union of Mineworkers

NUMSA           National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

PLA                  Prior Learning Assessment

PLAR               Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

QMS                 Quality Management Systems

RPL                  Recognition of Prior Learning

SAQA               South African Qualifications Authority SETA          Sector Education and Training Authority SGB        Standards Generating Body

SMME              Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises

4                                                   The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Terms and definitions

Assessment is the process of gathering and weighing evidence in order to determine whether learners have demonstrated outcomes specified in unit standards and/or qualifications registered on the NQF. The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Plan and conduct assessment of learning outcomes’ outlines the process in detail. The management of assessment is the responsibility of providers.

Moderation is the process of ensuring that assessments have been conducted in line with agreed practices, and are fair, reliable and valid. The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Moderate assessment ’ outlines the process in detail. One moderator usually checks the work of several assessors to ensure consistency. The management of moderation is the responsibility of the provider.

Verification is the process by which the recommendations from the provider about the award of credits or qualifications to learners are checked. The generic assessor standard ‘Verify moderation of assessment’ registered by SAQA, outlines this process in detail. It is an ETQA function to verify the claims of providers that assessment has been properly conducted and moderated.

Evidence facilitation is the process by which candidates are assisted to produce and organise evidence for the purpose of assessment. It is not an essential part of every assessment process, but is useful in many contexts, including RPL. The generic assessor standard

‘Facilitate  the  preparation  and  presentation  of  assessment  evidence  by  candidates’

currently being generated by the SGB outlines this process in detail.

RPL advice and support services are additional services needed for effective RPL which are not covered by the assessor standard or the evidence facilitator standard. These focus on assisting learners to make effective choices about available programmes, career and work related opportunities. Practitioners require a thorough knowledge of the relevant economic sector. They should be trained to identify skills, knowledge and other attributes developed outside formal knowledge systems, and to interact with cultural sensitivity.

Constituent means belonging to the defined or delegated constituency of an organisation or body referred to in the SAQA ETQA Regulations. ETQAs have constituent providers, constituent learners and constituent assessors.

Registered constituent assessor and moderator means a person who is registered by the relevant  ETQA in accordance  with  criteria  established  for this  purpose  by SAQA to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications. All ETQAs must have a register of assessors; they may also wish to have similar registers of moderators and verifiers.

Registered  constituent  verifiers  means  persons  placed  on  an  official  register  by  the relevant ETQA after meeting agreed criteria. Constituent verifiers may be contracted by the ETQA to carry out verification activities on its behalf in relation to the achievement of

specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                                5

Executive summary

Executive summary

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in South Africa is critical to the development of an equitable education and training system. As such a policy to develop and facilitate implementation of RPL across all sectors of education and training is critical and should be carefully constructed. An RPL policy should meet the needs of all the role players, including Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs), providers1  of education and training, constituents of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and most importantly, the main beneficiaries of the process, the learners. This policy document has as its main audience the ETQAs who must facilitate the implementation of RPL and quality assure assessment policies of their constituent providers.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is defined in the National Standards Bodies Regulations

(No 18787 of 28 March 1998, issued in terms of the SAQA Act 58 of 1995) as follows:

“Recognition  of prior learning means the comparison of the previous learning and experience of a learner howsoever obtained against the learning outcomes required for a specified qualification, and the acceptance for purposes of qualification of that which meets the requirements”.

This definition makes clear a number of principles in the development and execution of RPL:

  • Learning occurs in all kinds of situations – formally, informally and non-formally;
  • Measurement of the learning takes place against specific learning outcomes required for a specific qualification; and
  • Credits are awarded for such learning if it meets the requirements of the qualification.

Therefore, the process of recognising prior learning is about:

  • Identifying what the candidate2 knows and can do;
  • Matching the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience to specific standards and the associated assessment criteria of a qualification;
  • Assessing the candidate against those standards; and
  • Crediting the candidate for skills, knowledge and experience built up through formal, informal and non-formal learning that occurred in the past.

1       “Providers” refers to all types of institutions offering education and training, including formal universities, technikons, colleges, examination and assessment bodies, workplace-based training centres and single purpose and SMME providers.

2       “Candidate” is the term used for a person who is claiming credits against a particular unit standard or qualification and is therefore not enrolled in a formal programme, as opposed to ‘learner’, who is assumed to be involved in a formal education or training programme.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                               7

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

As  the  body  responsible  for  the  development  of  the  National  Qualifications  Framework (NQF), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) articulates some of the key objectives of the NQF in this policy. The NQF objectives particularly relevant to RPL include:

  • Facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths; and
  • Accelerate redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities.

These two objectives highlight the two main purposes of RPL, namely access and redress. The RPL policy explains these purposes in the differing contexts within which Recognition of Prior Learning may take place.

However, it should be noted that there is no fundamental difference in the assessment of previously acquired skills and knowledge and the assessment of skills and knowledge acquired through a current learning programme. The candidate seeking credits for previously acquired skills and knowledge must still comply with all the requirements as stated in unit standards or qualifications. The difference lies in the route to the assessment. RPL is a form of assessment, which ideally, should be fully integrated into all learning programmes. As such, the principles of good assessment are equally true for RPL and all other forms of assessment. This includes taking a holistic view of the process of assessment, where the context of the learning, as well as the context of the person who is being assessed is taken into account.

This policy document adheres in a logical sequence to the SAQA document Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (SAQA, October 2001). It should be read with other relevant documents such as:

  • Criteria and Guidelines for ETQAs (SAQA, October 2001); and
  • Criteria and Guidelines for Providers (SAQA, October 2001).

The policy addresses the following key roles and functions of ETQAs:

(a) Accredit constituent providers for specific standards or qualifications registered on the

National Qualifications Framework;

(b) Promote quality amongst constituent providers; (c) Monitor provision by constituent providers; and

(d) Evaluate assessment and facilitate moderation among constituent providers.

Recognition of Prior Learning should be an integrated feature of the assessment policies of ETQAs and their constituent providers and not an ‘add-on’ procedure. However, it is clear from both local and international experiences of RPL that the principles of equity, access and redress are objectives that need an explicit translation into practice if they are to be met. This policy provides direction and support for an evolving system of RPL that will be able to set the required standards to meet the challenges of social, economic and human development. At the same time it will contribute to the overall quality and integrity of standards and qualifications  registered  on  the  National  Qualifications  Framework.  A set  of  specialised criteria has been developed for this purpose (discussed in Chapter 2).

8                                                   The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Executive summary

Finally, the key challenge for the implementation of an RPL policy in South Africa is the sustainability of such a system. It would be short-sighted to suggest that RPL has a redress function only and therefore may have a relatively limited lifespan. As the South African education and training system matures, increasingly RPL will support the principle of lifelong learning. This will ensure that a nation’s people are encouraged to develop and improve their skills continuously to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Structure of the document

Chapter 1 deals with the underlying principles and philosophy underpinning assessment and RPL;

Chapter 2 deals with the core criteria for quality assurance of assessment and RPL; and Chapter 3 deals with the strategic framework for implementation  of RPL in South Africa. Appendices A, B and C are included for clarification.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                               9

Underlying principles and philosophy    1

Chapter 1

Underlying principles and philosophy

Introduction

Recognition of Prior Learning in South Africa has, unlike similar initiatives in other countries, a very specific  agenda.  RPL is meant  to support  transformation of the education  and training system of the country.

This calls for an approach to the development of RPL policy and practices that explicitly addresses the visible and invisible barriers to learning and assessment. Such an approach must generate the commitment of all role players to remove these barriers and to build a visible, usable and credible system as an effective and creative vehicle for lifelong learning.  It  is  important  that  consensus  be  generated  around  the  criteria  and  support systems within which the integrity and quality of all assessments will be protected. At the same time, the opportunities and benefits of RPL need to be extended to all learners and stakeholders. It is also imperative that a viable, sustainable and credible system is built for RPL.

While it is recognised that transforming education and training is not the responsibility of RPL

alone, in the context of this policy, transformation encapsulates:

  • A holistic approach to the process and execution of assessment;
  • A developmental and incremental approach to the implementation of RPL, particularly in terms of sustainability;
  • An acknowledgement of the differing contexts within which RPL will be implemented;
  • Opening up of access to education and training;
  • Redress of past injustices; and
  • An acknowledgement of the dynamic nature of the construction of knowledge that will come into play as the system matures.

1.1    A holistic approach to the process and execution of assessment

In many ways, a holistic approach represents the ideal, the vision for the transformation of assessment, and therefore for RPL in South Africa. It incorporates the principles of good assessment, i.e. fairness, validity, reliability and practicability (as discussed in Chapter 3 of the Criteria and Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications, SAQA, October 2001). But it also reflects the need to look for the intrinsic, rather than extrinsic value of someone’s learning within a particular context and the ways in which some forms of knowledge are privileged. The question that we need to answer is how to redefine, systematically and consciously, which knowledge3  is valued. This is to ensure that

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             11

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

both old and new forms of discrimination are avoided and to mediate knowledge transfer across contexts.

A holistic approach to RPL therefore attempts to prevent assessment from becoming a purely technical application, dislocated from a particular individual and broader context.

The following are the key elements of a holistic approach to assessment. A holistic approach:

  • Is deeply committed to the development and maintenance of assessment systems that

protect the integrity of standards, qualifications and institutions;

  • Subscribes to the principles and values of human development and lifelong learning.

As such it consciously supports the social purposes of RPL in relation to access, equity and redress,  and  strives  to  implement  assessments  in  a  manner  that  promotes  dignity, confidence and educational opportunities;

  • Is learner-centred  and  developmental  where  assessments  are  not  used  to  penalise candidates for what they do not know, but to shape and form decisions around educational planning and career-pathing;
  • Allocates a high  priority  to learner-centred  support  systems that  will  assist  in the preparation for assessment;
  • Seeks to address the context and conditions that inform the practice. This means taking steps to remove the emotional, educational and cultural factors that may constitute barriers to effective learning and assessment practice;
  • Promotes the principle of flexibility in the use of assessment methods and instruments in accordance with the rights of candidates to participate in the selection and use of ‘fit for purpose’ assessment methods;
  • Recognises the rich diversity of knowledge and learning styles, which candidates bring into an assessment situation;
  • Recognises that RPL should ideally be the first step into a learning programme that will build on the skills and knowledge already recognised and credited;
  • Takes as its starting point the standpoint of critical theory, which challenges the social and structural conditioning of the curriculum, institutions and related opportunities for adult learners4 in formal education; and
  • Will increasingly challenge the construction and content of qualifications to be more inclusive of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that are acquired outside formal institutions of learning in society.

1.2    A developmental and incremental approach to the implementation  of RPL

In order to achieve the holistic ideal realistically, the transformation of education and training needs  to  take  place  incrementally.  This  means  focusing  on  RPL  as  a  category  of assessment requiring a high degree of flexibility, sensitivity and specialisation while, as far as

3       The “knowledge”  refers to “workers’ knowledge, women’s knowledge and indigenous knowledge” which in the past were not consciously included in curricula and learning programmes.

4       The term “adult learners” is used as a reference to the majority of learners, including out of school youth, whose primary mode of learning is non-for- mal and experiential.

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Underlying principles and philosophy    1

possible, making use of existing infrastructure and resources. RPL policies must be integrated into existing processes, structures and projects. Much thought must be given to the provision of candidate support and candidate preparation, as well as to preparation of assessment methods,  instruments  and  administrative  systems  to  support  the  process  and  protect  the integrity of the results.

A developmental and incremental approach gives providers of education and training the space to explore and experiment with implementation of the policy. This supports the need for institutions and sectors to retain their autonomy and to develop implementation plans within the constraints of their organisations while meeting the agreed requirements of the framework and criteria indicated in the policy.

Most importantly, a developmental and incremental approach pre-supposes implementation plans with sustainability targets against which the system measures its progress towards the objectives of the plan. Education and Training Quality Assurance bodies (ETQAs) will have an important role to play in facilitating and monitoring the progress towards full implementation of RPL.

1.3    The differing contexts within which RPL are implemented

The contexts within which RPL are practised are as varied as the candidates seeking credits for learning achieved. RPL is practised in the Higher Education and Training (HET), Further Education and Training (FET) and General Education and Training (GET) Bands and in Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET), in formal institutions of learning, as well as at workplace-based  education  and  training  centres  and  by  small  private  single  purpose providers.

In addition, RPL is done against unit standard-based qualifications, as well as against the learning outcomes of non-unit standard based qualifications. Qualifications based on unit standards  and  non-unit  standard  based  qualifications  are  equally  valid  expressions  of outcomes-based education. Perpetuating the division between these two types of qualification would be an unwarranted position. It is much more important to establish ways in which articulation between vocationally oriented, professional and academic qualifications can take place to facilitate the development of multiple learning pathways. Therefore, it goes without saying that the contexts within which RPL is practised will be linked to the varied purposes for embarking on a process of Recognition of Prior Learning.

These purposes include the following options:

  • Personal development and/or certification of current skills without progression into a learning programme, if the candidate so chooses;
  • Progression into a learning programme, using RPL to fast-track progression through the learning programme;
  • Promotion; and
  • Career or job change.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

RPL practice therefore cannot take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. However, all RPL practice will be measured against the agreed criteria (discussed in Chapter 2), which are considered the core, the basis upon which all RPL systems are developed.

It is therefore acknowledged that providers of education and training will have very different strategies in implementing RPL and that these strategies will be closely linked to the target group for which the system is developed.

1.4    Opening up of access to education and training and redress of past injustices

Two distinct target groups identified in the policy are those candidates seeking access to further education possibilities, and those seeking redress.

In terms of access, the target group may be under-qualified adult learners (such as teachers or nurses), with some level of professional education wanting to up-skill and improve their qualifications. It may also include candidates lacking the minimum requirements for entry into a formal  learning  programme  (e.g. matriculation  endorsement).  Certainly,  at the level  of Higher Education (HE), access to a programme will be the objective of an overwhelming majority who apply for RPL, but it will also include those candidates seeking certification as an end in itself.

The entry of learners to HE via non-traditional routes encourages the recognition of diverse forms of knowledge and participation. This can greatly enrich the learning experience of all involved in a programme. For these candidates to be able to achieve the kind of knowledge, skills and competencies required for progression and mobility, a particular quality and level of engagement with programmes is required. They have to be able to engage properly with programmes at higher levels in terms of the breadth, depth and complexity required. Since a certain level of academic ability can be assumed on their part, strategies such as ‘advanced standing’, ‘extended curricula’, bridging, foundation and/or access programmes are appropriate for them.

These options are likely to be practiced by formal institutions of education and training such as universities, technikons and other further and higher education institutions. The support and orientation of these candidates will be in line with the type of support currently offered to learners at such institutions.

The target group requiring redress is entirely different. These candidates may be on the shop floor, in workplaces, or may be semi-skilled and unemployed. They may have worked for many years and have gained experience in specific areas, but were prevented from developing and  growing  because  of  the  education  and  training  policies  of  the  past.  Possibly  such candidates will have low levels of education. In this target group the focus of RPL may be certification as an end in itself, rather than access to further education and training (although this  may  also  be  a  purpose).  It  would  grant  recognition  for  their  contribution  to  the development  of  the  country  and  validate  their  personal  worth  and  value  their  worth  as

14                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Underlying principles and philosophy    1

employees. The strategies used here may include assessment against small, distinct ‘chunks’ of learning, and will include the very necessary support and orientation services mentioned in the criteria (Chapter 2).

In the cases of both access and redress, the primary NQF objective is to “contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large”.

A third group, not so clearly delineated, includes candidates who, having exited formal education  either  prematurely  or  at  the  end  of  a formal  programme,  built  up  substantial amounts of learning over a number of years through attending short learning programmes. These programmes (short courses or skills programmes) are a viable and a common method of gaining meaningful learning for optimal workplace functioning. They facilitate access to learning in a manageable manner, particularly in terms of cost, time and energy. Candidates should be able to attain credits towards qualifications for this type of learning. This is in line with the position of skills programmes in the system and it is foreseeable that qualifications can be achieved via this ‘lifelong learning’ route. Increasingly, RPL will become a mechanism for recognising the skills, knowledge and values thus acquired.

1.5    The dynamic nature of the construction of knowledge in a mature system

The maturing education and training system of South Africa will increasingly require institutions to question and reshape fundamental values, beliefs and paradigms to force the

‘negotiation of two worlds – the world of experience and the world of the academic’ (Osman et al, 2001). It will encourage providers to become not only sites of learning, that define and construct knowledge, but also places where people examine and engage with the context of knowledge creation. The education and training system should seek a meeting place for the different traditions of knowledge emanating from different sites of practice.

Deciding how to compare the conceptual understanding that a RPL candidate needs to demonstrate with what is required for specified outcomes, should be possible, rather than being overly concerned about literal matching. It will not be necessary, as assessors become experienced and the system has proven itself to be credible, to look for total correspondence between a qualification (or unit standard) and a candidate’s prior learning – rough equivalence will do.

In the future, it should be possible to move away from the idea of RPL as being solely a comparison of experience against learning outcomes for a specified qualification, to include a comparison between learning and expertise common to a range of qualifications at a particular level of the NQF. This would mean moving away from a purely technical approach to a holistic approach. The complexity and depth of learning to be recognised in communities of practice outside formal education would have to be taken into account. So would the different ways in which adult learners are differently prepared for entry into learning programmes.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

A holistic approach, looking at equivalence in terms of complexity and depth of learning required for a qualification will take into account the nature and form of experiential learning of adults, challenging the ‘standards’ of those who work largely in formal institutions of learning with young learners coming from the school system.

Chapter 2 will address the core criteria against which the progress towards the development of an assessment and RPL system can be measured.

16                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

2

Chapter 2

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL

Introduction

Recognition of Prior Learning is one of the principles underpinning the objectives of the NQF. In the SAQA publication Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), RPL is described as follows:

“To, through assessment, give credit to learning which has already been acquired in different ways”.

In the legislation, regulations and criteria and guidelines documents, RPL is put forward as one of the key strategies of the emerging education and training system to ensure equitable access to education and training and redress of past unjust educational practices.

Assessment for the Recognition of Prior Learning is, as mentioned before, and, as for any assessment, subject to the following principles:

  • Credible assessment;
  • The quality of the evidence;
  • An assessment planned and designed on the basis of understanding the requirements of the

unit standard, part qualification or whole qualification;

  • The use of various methods and instruments;
  • The requirements for a credible assessment process; and
  • Moderation and quality assurance of assessments.

(Paraphrased from Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications: October 2001.)

In particular, this chapter will deal with ways in which Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs) can ensure that their constituent providers’ assessment policies integrate and implement RPL. This is in accordance with the requirements for ETQAs.5

As mentioned in the Introduction to Chapter 1 (Underlying principles and philosophy), the visible and invisible barriers to learning and assessment must be acknowledged and strategies must be developed to deal with these. Therefore, as much as RPL is an integrated part of assessment (and will increasingly become part of teaching and learning practice), it is highlighted in this policy as a form of assessment needing particular attention.

5 Refer to the ETQA Regulations, No R1127 of 8 September 1998.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The following criteria (2.1 – 2.7) have been formulated as a guide for a system of quality assurance in respect of RPL services offered by education and training providers, but they are also true for the quality assurance of assessment policies in general.

The areas of practice are discussed individually. Each area is described by a quality statement, and is followed by an example of a self-audit tool, which may be expanded for use by the ETQAs, but may also be used by providers, both in terms of formal institutions and workplace- based providers, to measure their progress against agreed targets.

The areas of practice include:

  • Institutional policy and environment;
  • Services and support to learners;
  • Training and registration of assessors and key personnel;
  • Methods and processes of assessment;
  • Quality Management Systems (moderation);
  • Fees for RPL services; and
  • RPL and curriculum development.

2.1    Institutional policy and environment

This area of practice highlights the fact that an enabling environment demonstrating commitment to RPL is essential. Unless proper policies, structures and resources are allocated to a credible assessment process, it can easily become an area of contestation and conflict. Assessment practice is a critical aspect in the emerging education and training system and therefore needs explicit discussion and guidelines. Please refer to SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001).6

6       The “Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications” must be read with the RPL policy. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the contents thereof.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Institutional policy and environment

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Institutional policy and environment

There  is  a  shared  commitment   on  the  part  of  ETQAs, accredited  constituent   providers  and workplaces  to provide enabling environments for learning and assessment (inclusive of close co- operation between administration, learning facilitators, evidence facilitators, advisors, assessors, moderators, professional organisations, employers, trade unions and communities, where appropriate).

Y N U
The assessment policy expresses an explicit commitment  to the principles of equity, redress and inclusion
The assessment policy  reflects  planning and management  in accordance with relevant legislation and policy
Information   about   assessment  opportunities   and  services  are  widely available and actively promoted
Admission procedures and systems are accessible and inclusive of learners with diverse needs and backgrounds
Equal access to opportunities  to advice, support, time and resources for all candidates seeking assessment
Organisational structures ensure that evidence facilitators, assessors and moderators and other key personnel, such as advisors, are given sufficient support, resources and recognition for their services
Regional integration  and collaboration  are encouraged among institutions, professional bodies and workplaces, where possible
Formal agreements between ETQAs, providers and workplaces are encouraged to ensure effective validation, articulation and recognition of assessment results, where possible

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.2    Services and support to learners/candidates

Services and support to learners/candidates form part of pre-assessment advice and counseling (refer to the generic RPL process in Appendix A). This may include preparation for the assessment itself, educational planning and post-assessment support. This service is not dissimilar  from  services  offered  by  suitably  trained  career  guidance  counselors  or  other advisors who are part of ‘student services’ offered at institutions. At workplaces, these type of services could be offered by trained human resource practitioners, line managers or suitably qualified education and training practitioners. As far as possible, a separate infrastructure should not be established for RPL for the following reasons:

  • Credits awarded to learners/candidates through the process of RPL are equal to credits awarded to learners in formal full-time learning programmes. RPL should not be marginalised as the easy, second-best route to obtain credits. Establishing a separate infrastructure to deal with RPL may create this impression; and
  • Services and  support  to  candidates  are  not  unlike  the  support  offered  to  adult learners in full-time study, taking into account the need for flexible learning environments for adults facing the pressures of work and study.

However, the danger of underestimating the levels of disempowerment and dislocation that decades  of  discriminatory  education  and  training  policies  and  practices  had  on  ordinary citizens, and the unfamiliarity with formal academic study, (particularly in Higher Education), cannot be ignored. Therefore the support services should consciously address the invisible barriers to successful assessment. This may include a re-alignment of existing academic development programmes to suit the needs of adult learners, advising programmes, assistance with identifying equivalencies and preparation for assessment. This may also include dealing with the very significant anxieties, traumas and non-technical barriers that arise when adult learners enter the RPL arena. The inclusion of advising and counseling services to complement evidence facilitation and assessment should be an important principle in the provision of RPL services.

Learner/candidate support structures are critical as a preventative measure, i.e. as a measure to enhance the success rate of candidates. This is true not only for adult learners and RPL candidates, but also for learners involved in full-time study programmes. This is in line with the current thinking in terms of the requirements for accreditation as a provider of education and training, and as such will be an aspect of the teaching and learning environment that must be quality assured7.

7       Please refer to Criterion 6 and 7 of ‘Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers’ (SAQA: October 2001) for more information on the criteria for accreditation and an Education and Training Providers.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Services and support to learners/candidates

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Services and support to learners/candidates

Through properly conducted evidence facilitation8, advice and other support services, including assistance in dealing with personal, social and technical barriers to assessment and preparation of evidence, candidates are able to see how to use the process of RPL to achieve their personal, educational and career goals.

Y N U
Advising  services  and  programmes   assist  learners/candidates   to  make effective choices about learning programmes, career and work-related opportunities
Advising   programmes   and  services  provide   assistance   to  learners/

candidates in preparing for assessment

Support  services  attempt  to  remove  time,  place  and  other  barriers  to assessment
Evidence facilitators assist candidates in preparing and presenting evidence in a coherent and systematic fashion
Structured  short  learning programmes  or articulation-based programmes are increasingly available where required

8       Please refer to the proposed unit standard for ‘Evidence facilitation’ included as Appendix B.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.3    Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

The training and orientation of assessors and other staff involved in assessment has been identified as a critical component for the success of implementing the principles and objectives of the NQF. According to Chapter 5 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), the role of the assessor in an Outcomes Based Education and Training (OBET) system has changed significantly. The role of the assessors9  is to:

  • Inform the candidate about the requirements of qualifications or unit standards;
  • Support and guide the candidate in the collection of evidence;
  • Help the candidate plan for the assessment;
  • Inform the candidate about the timing of the assessment; and
  • Conduct the assessment and provide feedback.

The role of the assessor is clearly expressed in the assessor standard, ASSMT01: “Plan and

Conduct Assessment of Learning” (included in Appendix B).

For the purposes of RPL, this role has been refined and expanded, but it does not mean that it could not be the same person fulfilling the roles of both facilitating the identification of the evidence, and assessing the evidence. Each task, i.e. ‘evidence facilitation’, ‘assessment’ and

‘advice’, is distinctive, and should ideally be performed by different people to avoid potential conflict of interest and bias, but could be performed by the same person, or alternatively by trained practitioners, particularly in terms of the advisory function since this may require specialised knowledge and skills.

The evidence facilitator and assessor in particular, should be exposed to training components on the development of self-awareness, sensitivity and the ability to know and manage one’s own biases. Whilst the critical areas of bias in South Africa focus on issues of race, language, religion, gender and class, there are also numerous other biases, including the bias against experiential and non-formal forms of learning. Anti-bias and sensitivity training needs to emphasise an understanding of these potential problems and the ways in which they may impact on assessment activities and processes10.

In some instances, training needs to include an explicit component on language bias, where language may become a hindrance to assessment, particularly where candidates make use of

‘colloquialisms’ for work processes, equipment and tools. Where the demonstration of skill does not require formal language skills, assessors have to be sensitive to the use of words and terms common within a particular context.

However, where language is a critical component in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, competencies cannot be assessed in the presence of linguistic inadequacy. In such cases the assessment of language is an integral feature of recognising prior learning.

9       The Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (Chapter 5, SAQA, 2001), provides a detailed explica- tion of the role and expertise of assessors. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with this document.

10    Some providers have opted for an ‘assessment panel’ consisting of subject matter experts and other key personnel to safeguard against bias.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

Through training of assessors and other personnel involved in assessment, the quality of assessments and the integrity of the assessment system are ensured. Training enables evidence facilitators, assessors, moderators,  advisors and administrative  personnel to provide  a holistic,  learner-centred service that is in keeping with the objectives of the NQF and related policies. Monitoring policies ensure that assessors’ and moderators’ professional competencies in assessment are reviewed and updated.

Y N U
The criteria for the registration  of assessors and moderators  makes explicit provision for the requisite certification in the relevant unit standards designed for that purpose, in accordance with the relevant principles and standards for assessment and moderation as set out in SAQA and other policy documents11
Policies and review mechanisms regarding monitoring  and quality assurance of evidence facilitators, assessors, moderators and other key personnel are in place
The functions  of evidence facilitation,  assessment and advising are clearly defined, and where possible, should not be performed by the same person
Training and development encourage mentoring relationships between staff with and those without assessment expertise
Quality  assurance  systems  are implemented  by  all training  providers  to ensure that they increasingly meet the developmental objectives as agreed with the ETQA

11    Refer to relevant unit standards in Appendix B.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.4    Methods and processes of assessment

Chapter 3 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards  and  Qualifications  (October  2001),  provides  a  detailed  discussion  of  the principles of good assessment. These principles constitute the heart of good practice and must  be  applied  in  the  design  and  implementation  of  all  assessment  methods  and procedures.

In addition, the quality of evidence relates to reliability, validity, authenticity, sufficiency and currency. Particularly in RPL assessment, sufficiency and currency are important. In the case of sufficiency, it is not only a question of whether enough evidence has been gathered. Sometimes, in an attempt to ensure rigour, assessors require too much evidence (e.g. extensive triangulation) thereby making the assessment process very onerous for candidates and for assessors. The essential reference point for ‘marking’ RPL is the lowest mark which enables a classroom taught candidate to ‘pass’. Rarely does this mean a complete coverage of the syllabus. It would be unfair to RPL candidates to expect more than the minimum requirement for learners in full-time study.

Currency is of particular importance as candidates may have learnt skills a long time ago. How current certain knowledge, skills and competencies need to be are largely dependent on the context and occupational area.

In terms of the assessment process, it is important to note that all assessments, regardless of the subject matter and the context, follow the same basic procedure, i.e.:

  • Planning of the assessment with the candidate;
  • Conducting the assessment; and
  • Feedback of the results to the candidate.

However, before the assessment can take place, the assessor has to plan, design and prepare assessments. This includes making decisions about the method of assessment, the instruments to be used and the extent to which integrated assessment, (i.e. covering more than one learning outcome), can be achieved.

Chapter 6 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), discusses the assessment process in detail. This includes the preparatory work that needs to go into the planning of assessment.

The important point here is that fit for purpose assessments must be designed and decided upon before an assessment can take place. This may include appropriate alternative forms of assessment.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Methods and processes of assessment

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Methods and processes of assessment

Assessment  is  a  structured  process  for  gathering  evidence  and  making  judgements  about  a candidate’s performance in relation to registered national standards and qualifications. This process involves the candidate and the assessor within a particular context in a transparent and collaborative manner.

Y N U
The purpose of the assessment and the expectations  of the candidate are clarified
Assessment  plans  take  into  account  the  form,  quality  and  sources  of evidence required (for example performance evidence, knowledge evidence, witness testimony)
The form and quality of support to be provided to the candidate in preparing for the assessment are established
The candidate is actively involved in all aspects of the assessment process to ensure that the assessment is fair and transparent. Possible barriers to fair assessments are identified and addressed
Assessment  plans indicate  a variety of appropriate  assessment  methods and instruments to validate diverse types of learning
The choice of assessment methods  is fit for purpose and ensures reliable and valid assessment outcomes
An appeals process is in place and made known to the candidate12
Assessment instruments  and exemplars  are developed  and moderated  in compliance  with the ETQA requirements
Assessment reports indicate the assessment plan, the evidence presented, the assessment outcome and recommendations  for further action, including additional training and/or re-assessment
Moderation and review mechanisms are in place, including policies for verification, evaluation and quality assurance of assessments and assessment systems

12    The appeals procedure is not discussed here – readers are referred to Chapter 6 of the Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (SAQA 2001).

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.5    Quality Management Systems

Recognition of Prior Learning should be an integrated feature of assessment policies. This includes  the  moderation,  management  and  reporting  procedures  that  constitute  the Quality Management Systems of ETQAs and their constituent providers.

The integrity and credibility of an assessment system requires a comprehensive system of quality assurance. Such a system proposes the standards for effective management, implementation, moderation and review of all assessment services. This includes the secure production, storage and distribution of records, reports and other data relevant to assessment and Recognition of Prior Learning.

Although the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD) specifies clearly the type and form of information required from ETQAs and providers, additional information is required so that a research base that examines its implementation and its efficacy is developed. However, in its final form, credits achieved through RPL, will be recorded in the same manner as conventional assessment outcomes. This is to prevent the stigmatisation of RPL credits as being inferior to the conventional method of achieving credits and/or qualifications.

Internal and external evaluation  should therefore form a critical part of the review and quality improvement processes. In terms of RPL assessments, evaluation takes place at three levels:

  • Formative: This occurs continuously at the micro-level of the system, i.e. at the level of the provider. Evaluation of the evidence facilitation phase, the planning phase, the assessment and the feedback phase should take place at regular scheduled intervals.
  • Summative: Overall evaluation of the degree to which agreed goals and targets have been met. This should be in line with the objectives for facilitating access and redress in a particular sector of education and training.

(The ETQA in particular is responsible for the establishment of sector-related targets in terms of RPL. This will ensure a coherent approach to RPL assessment and facilitate the collation of information in respect of RPL initiatives and results.)

  • Diagnostic: Occurs  at both formative  and summative  stages  so that changes  to the process can be effected at various points of the cycle, as appropriate.

This evaluation is in line with the moderation processes discussed in Chapter 7 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001). The main functions of moderation systems are:

  • To verify that assessments are fair, valid, reliable and practicable;
  • To identify the need to redesign assessments if required;
  • To provide an appeals procedure for dissatisfied candidates;
  • To evaluate the performance of assessors;
  • To provide procedures for the de-registration of unsatisfactory assessors; and
  • To provide feedback to the National  Standards  Bodies on unit standards and qualifications.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Quality Management Systems

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Quality Management Systems

Quality Management  Systems are in place to ensure the continuous  improvement  of assessment systems. The Quality Management System ensures the critical integrity of assessments and reporting and recording processes inform strategic planning requirements at provider, sectoral and national level.

Y N U
Quality Management  Systems for assessment are designed,  documented and implemented in accordance with agreed criteria and specifications13
Quality Management Systems ensure the refining of assessment policies, procedures and services at all levels and inform planning for further development aimed at meeting agreed targets
Quality Management  Systems provide  for input from all key stakeholders, including representatives from the candidate community
Quality Management Systems provide for support in meeting developmental targets, including evaluation and monitoring activities
Evaluation  and  monitoring   activities   are  clearly   spelt   out   in  QMS

documentation, including diagnostic, formative and summative activities

Evaluation and monitoring activities ensure consistency within a sector
Assessment   documentation,   reports   and   sources   of   evidence   are maintained in accordance with agreed criteria and specifications
RPL results are recorded in accordance  with the requirements of the ETQA

and SAQA’s NLRD

Information   on  RPL  outcomes,   including   unsuccessful   and  successful applications  are maintained
The Quality Management System provides for systems to monitor progress of candidates who enter learning programmes post-RPL
The Quality Management  System  provides  for analyses and reporting  of services and results

13    Refer to Criterion 2 in Chapter 4 of Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers (SAQA: October 2001).

2.6    Fees for RPL services

RPL  services  and  assessment  should  not  cost  more  than  a  full-time  face-to-face programme, particularly if such services are integrated into the existing infrastructure. The cost of developing a system and the necessary capacity to support the system, are not unlike the costs of developing a new learning programme. This means that the initial start-up costs may be relatively high, but increasingly, with learners entering such a programme, the costs are reduced and spread over a period of time. The challenge  is to develop programmes  and services where one-on-one contact with a candidate is kept to the minimum. RPL does not mean that each candidate must be dealt with only on an individual basis. In principle, RPL should be more cost-effective for candidates, employers and employees by reducing the cost of training in terms of those parts of the qualification for which the candidate already meets the requirements. The cost of developing RPL systems and capacity must be seen as an investment in the development of a credible lifelong learning system in South Africa.

Example of the self-audit tool: Fees for RPL services

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Fees for  RPL services

Fees for the delivery and administration of assessment and RPL services, do not create barriers for candidates. The development  of services and programmes is an investment in the lifelong learning approach across all levels and sectors of education and training in South Africa.

Y N U
Fees should not create barriers for candidates
The fees for the assessment of prior learning should be less than the cost of a full-time module or learning programme
Credit-bearing  portfolio  development  or other articulation  programmes  are made increasingly available to assist candidates in their preparation for assessment, and to qualify for available subsidies for selected skills programmes and learnerships
Flexible payment  options,  in line with  the policies  and procedures  of the

ETQA and constituent  providers, are available

Research  and  development  priorities  are identified,  including  those  that investigate costs and cost effectiveness

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

2.7    RPL and Curriculum Development

RPL and Curriculum Development highlights the extent to which the education and training system is changing from an inputs-based system to an outcomes-based system. It reflects how assessment and assessment practice will increasingly inform the development of curricula and also represents the holistic vision, the ideal discussed earlier.

RPL requires a careful analysis of the knowledge, skills and values that will prove competence in a particular field of practice. As a result, curricula and qualifications will increasingly be enriched by the additional knowledge of candidates that was acquired outside of formal education and training, and the ways in which this knowledge may make the qualification more relevant and responsive to the needs of the workplace. It is here where the critical ‘negotiation of two worlds

– the world of experience and the world of the academic’ (Osman et al, 2001) becomes evident.

As the emerging education and training system matures, and as education and training practitioners  and assessors become more confident of the integrity of the system, it will become possible to give credit to learning that is so interrelated that it is difficult to find exact matches with requirements for unit standards and qualifications. Then it will be possible to compare  previous  learning  to  a  particular  level  of  expertise  common  to  a  range  of qualifications at a particular level of the NQF. The portfolio method may become most useful to assist candidates in developing a holistic and well-rounded picture of themselves, their career and their lifelong learning achievements. This may include a reflection on all the contexts and areas of experiential, community and workplace learning.

These issues are fundamental to the debate on RPL and assessment practice in terms of what knowledge  is  regarded  as  valuable  and  worth  recognising,  and  whether  learning generated in situations outside of the specified range or context in which assessment is being done, will be recognised.

Example of the self-audit tool: RPL and Curriculum Development

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

RPL and Curriculum Development

Assessment and RPL practice increasingly inform the development of new standards, qualifications, learning programmes and curricula. Providers increasingly use methods of instruction and delivery to provide curricula to meet the diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic and educational needs of learners.

Y N U
Learning programmes increasingly take into account the nature and form of knowledge  produced  in previously excluded  constituencies  and locations, e.g. indigenous knowledge, women’s knowledge, workers’ knowledge
The curriculum  increasingly incorporates  indigenous and other knowledge forms to reflect the diversity of needs and goals of the learner population

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

RPL and Curriculum Development continued

Y N U
The  design   of  learning  programmes   indicates   how  candidates’   prior knowledge has been affirmed and taken into account
The curriculum is sufficiently open-ended  to allow for flexible entry and exit points to enhance access and the achievement of learning goals
Emerging trends from assessment and RPL where these have implications for modification and redesign of unit standards and qualifications, are forwarded to the appropriate bodies
Where candidates  demonstrate  knowledge  that does not easily fit existing unit standards or exit level outcomes, credit equivalencies are established in consultation  with subject experts and relevant ETQAs

Summary

The criteria discussed in this section represent the overall national approach to the establishment of a credible assessment system, which in real terms includes the processes, services and related procedures for RPL as an integral feature of the assessment policies of the education and training system as a whole. It is therefore critical that ETQAs take this to their constituencies and contextualise it to suit the needs and requirements of the sector.

Such consultation will include the identification of:

  • The purpose, context and type of RPL to be practised in the sector, for example access

RPL or redress RPL;

  • The needs and resources of the sector, including the need for capacity building;
  • The target groups and programmes; and
  • The establishment of implementation targets over an agreed period of time.

In Chapter 3, a strategic framework for implementation  on a national level is discussed.

A strategic framework for implementation   3

Chapter 3

A strategic framework for implementation

Introduction

“Of  all the expectations  placed  on the NQF, the aspiration  for a system  of recognition  of prior learning (RPL) was perhaps the most significant;”  (Report of the Study Team on the Implementation of the National Qualifications Framework; Department of Education: April 2002).

The extract above reflects the high priority accorded throughout the system to the establishment of a credible, sustainable system whereby previously acquired learning can be recognised and credited. However, RPL cannot be seen as the answer to all the questions in the emerging education and training system. In the words of the study team:

“On  its own,  it is not a solution  to either inequalities  or unemployment”, but  it is an important strategy to address access to education and training for those previously excluded. As such, RPL should be seen as a key developmental strategy – both for the system and for individuals wanting to receive recognition  for their learning achieved outside of formal institutions.  For this reason it is placed within a framework  for the enhancement  of lifelong learning. ETQAs and their constituent providers must commit to the principles of access and redress and develop context-specific plans to  make  this  possible.”   (Report  of  the  Study  Team  on  the  Implementation   of  the  National Qualifications Framework; Department of Education: April 2002).

This policy offers a set of criteria against which to formulate a more detailed strategy. Such a strategy cannot be developed and implemented at the macro level alone – it needs to be elaborated and implemented by all key stakeholders in the system, i.e. ETQAs, accredited providers and workplaces, education and training practitioners, assessors, moderators, administrators and managers.

To this end, the following strategic framework for implementation is proposed:

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

3.1 Strategic framework

  1. Audit of current practice

The self-audit tools (Chapter 2) could be refined for use by ETQAs to determine the extent and depth of RPL delivery within their constituencies. They could also be used by constituent providers and workplace-based assessors to measure their progress against agreed implementation targets.

  1. The development of detailed sector-specific plans

ETQAs and their constituent  providers  have to develop detailed sector-specific  plans for implementation and quality assurance.

  1. Capacity building of resources and staff

In line with the implementation plan, the capacity development of assessors and other key staff, as well as appropriate resources, is key to the success of implementation.

  1. The design and moderation of appropriate assessment instruments and tools

Appropriate assessment instruments and tools are critical to ensure the credibility of the assessments, and the integrity of the system.

  1. Quality management systems and procedures

The development of review and reporting mechanisms is critical to the integrity of the system.

  1. The establishment of a research base

Opportunities  to,  and  commitment  from  all  stakeholders  to  engage  in  the  debate  and development of a credible, sustainable system is critical to the integrity of the system.

3.2 Conclusion

In developing an RPL policy, it cannot be assumed that because the policy has been approved, the system will be in place. As in the case of all the approaches, processes and procedures in the new education and training system, it is acknowledged that the development of such a system takes time. The level and extent of implementation will be determined by the ETQAs in consultation with their constituencies.

It is also acknowledged that lessons will be learnt on the road to full implementation and that we should learn these lessons. Recognition of Prior Learning is not a precise science, rather it builds on international best practice, takes from the lessons that which is valuable and establishes a system that is responsive to the needs of learners, but also balances this with the need for integrity of the system.

32                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Appendix A

A generic process    A

Example of a generic  RPL process

Application (1)

RPL evidence facilitator meets candidate to conduct pre-screening to ascertain viability of application (2)

If viable, then Pre-assessment stage:  (3)

If not viable i.e. candidate will clearly not meet the minimum

RPL evidence facilitator takes candidate(s) through preparation for assessment:

  • Portfolio development and related workshops, and/or
  • One-on-one advising
  • Assessment approaches, tools and mechanisms
  • Guidance on collecting evidence, which candidate undertakes

Assessor (preferably with facilitator present) and candidate develop assessment plan: (4)

  • Review unit standard(s) and requirements
  • Type and sources of evidence
  • Assessment tools to be used in this assessment
  • Dates and times of assessment

requirements in terms of language/ numeracy and/or other competencies, the candidate is referred for further advice on alternative pathways

Assessment stage: (5)

  • Candidate undergoes practical assessment, and/or
  • Candidate sits knowledge test, and/or
  • Candidate goes through pre- and post-interview

Judgement stage: (6) Evidence judged by assessor

Moderation  stage (7)

Appeal process may be initiated

Credit not awarded

Feedback stage (8)

Post-assessment (9)

support

Credit awarded

RELATED ASPECTS ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE

(a) RPL policies, procedures and systems in place; information on RPL is readily available

(b) The provider has developed a criteria framework within which pre-screening  takes place; pre- screening criteria are readily available to candidates

(c) Alternate pathways/options as well as additional counseling services

(d) Where no facilitators are available, assessors will undertake all functions

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             33

Appendix B

Unit standards

Unit standards   B

TITLE:

Facilitate the preparation and presentation of assessment evidence by candidates

Unit standard number                 12544

Unit standard level                     4

Credits                                           4

Field                                              Education, Training and Development

Sub-field                                        Adult learning

Issue date                                     February 2003

Review date                                  This standard  should be reviewed  within  three years of issue.

Purpose

This unit standard will be useful to people who assist candidates  to prepare and present evidence for assessment. Such evidence facilitators will add value to the assessment process by ensuring candidates are ready to present well organised and complete evidence to registered assessors. Their value will be particularly felt when assisting candidates who are competent in their field, but are unable to present coherent evidence of that fact for reasons unrelated to their skill area.

People credited with this unit standard are able to:

  • Provide information to candidates about assessment in general and their assessment in particular;
  • Advise and support candidates to prepare, organise and present evidence; and
  • Evaluate and give feedback on candidate evidence.

Learning assumed to be in place

The credit value is based on the assumption that people learning towards this unit standard already understand the key principles of an outcomes-based system, and seek to apply the assessment facilitation skills within the context of their given area of expertise.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Range statement

References to “evidence  facilitator”  concern the person who wishes to achieve this unit standard. References to “the candidate”  in this unit standard concern the person who the evidence facilitator is helping to prepare for assessment, and do not refer to the evidence facilitator.

Assessment of the evidence facilitator against this unit standard is to take place within the context of given organisational  assessment policies and procedures,  using given assessment instruments that are fully designed in relation to registered unit standards.

This  unit  standard  does  not  distinguish  between  “RPL  assessment”   and  any  other  form  of assessment. The reason for this is because all assessment involves gathering, judging and giving feedback on evidence in relation to agreed standards. Therefore, it does not matter whether the evidence facilitator  is assisting a candidate  to prepare and present existing evidence in the RPL sense, or whether the evidence facilitator is assisting candidates to produce evidence afresh.

Specific outcomes and assessment criteria

Specific outcome 1:        Provide information to candidates about assessment

Range: The information provided to candidates is to include:

  • General assessment principles and procedures;
  • Organisational assessment policies and procedures; and
  • The requirements of the particular assessment at hand.

Assessment criteria

1.1.  Basic  information  is  provided  about  key  concepts  and  principles  concerning  the outcomes-based system of learning and assessment, within the context of the National Qualifications Framework. Explanations of these key concepts promote understanding of the context of assessment and possible implications for the candidate at individual, organisational, industry and national levels.

1.2. Interactions with candidates have the potential to set them at ease and promote understanding of the organisational assessment policy and procedures and the specific assessment process and expectations. Opportunities are provided for clarification concerning the process and the expectations.

Range: Expectations  to be addressed  as defined in the relevant unit standards  and associated assessment instruments.

1.3.  The information helps candidates to identify potential sources of evidence in relation to their circumstances.

1.4.  The information enables candidates to identify the most appropriate and effective means for producing evidence for the assessment given their circumstances.

1.5.  Information to candidates is clear, precise and in line with instructions provided in the

assessment instruments.

36                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcome 2:        Advise and support candidates to prepare, organise and present evidence

Assessment criteria:

2.1.  Potential barriers to gathering evidence and special needs of candidates are identified, and appropriate proposals are provided to overcome such barriers and to address special needs.

Range: The proposals could be made to candidates and/or assessors and other role- players.

2.2.  The  advice  and  support  enables  the  candidate  to identify  appropriate,  effective  and efficient means of producing evidence of their competence.

2.3. The advice and support provided does not interfere with the candidate’s evidence but promotes the candidate’s ability to present valid, relevant, authentic and sufficient evidence.

2.4.  Interactions with candidates enable them to organise and present evidence in a manner that contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the assessment, but without compromising the reliability and validity of the assessment.

2.5. The nature and manner of advice and support takes into account lessons learnt from previous such interactions as well as information from assessors.

2.6.  Support is given in a way that builds candidates’ capacity concerning assessment and promotes independence for the future.

Specific outcome 3:        Evaluate and give feedback on candidate evidence

Range: The evaluation is limited mainly to an evaluation of the completeness and appropriateness of the evidence, and is not expected to amount to an assessment judgement as would be appropriate for an assessor.

Assessment criteria

3.1   The  evaluation  is  carried  out  in  terms  of  the  validity,  authenticity,  relevance  and sufficiency of evidence.

3.2   Evaluations  are  made  concerning  the  readiness  of  the  evidence  for  presentation  to registered assessors, and recommendations contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the assessment process.

Range: Recommendations to candidates and/or to registered assessors and/or to supervisors or managers.

3.3  Gaps in the evidence in relation to the requirements are identified and dealt with appropriately.

Range: “Appropriate” means advice or coaching is only given in cases where the gaps do not reflect a lack of competence on the part of the candidate. In cases where a lack of competence is discerned, feedback is provided in such a way that directs the candidate to further learning and/or practice, and in accordance with organisational policies and procedures.

3.4   Feedback about the evidence is communicated to candidates in a culturally sensitive

manner and in a way that promotes positive action by the candidate.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

3.5 Documentation is completed in line with organisational format requirements. The documentation contains a complete and accurate reflection of the entire process and the evidence produced.

3.6   Key  lessons  from  the  facilitation  process  are  recorded  for  integration  into  future interactions with candidates.

Accreditation options:

  • An individual wishing to be assessed, including through RPL, against this unit standard may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing an evidence facilitator against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA according to an agreed

Moderation Action Plan.

Notes:

Critical crossfield outcomes

The following critical crossfield outcomes are addressed by this unit standard:

  • Identify and  solve  problems  using  critical  and  creative  thinking:  planning  for contingencies, candidates with special needs, predicting problems that could arise during the gathering of evidence, and making proposals to address difficulties.
  • Work effectively in a team using critical and creative thinking: working with candidates and other relevant parties prior to, during and after evidence gathering.
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities: planning, preparing, conducting and recording the evidence gathering.
  • Collect, analyse,  organise  and  critically  evaluate  information:  gather  and  evaluate evidence and the facilitation process.
  • Communicate effectively:  inform  candidates  about  assessment,  communicate  during evidence gathering and provide feedback.
  • Demonstrate the world as a set of related systems: understanding the impact of assessment on individuals and organisations.
  • Be culturally and aesthetically  sensitive  across a range of social contexts: work with

candidates and give feedback in a culturally sensitive manner.

38                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Essential embedded knowledge

The following essential embedded knowledge will be assessed indirectly through assessment of the specific outcomes in terms of the stipulated assessment criteria. Candidates are unlikely to achieve all the specific outcomes, to the standards described in the assessment criteria, without knowledge of the listed embedded knowledge. This means that for the most part, the possession or lack of the knowledge can be inferred from the quality of the candidate’s performance.

  • Principles of assessment
  • Principles and practices of RPL
  • Methods for gathering evidence
  • Potential barriers to assessment
  • Feedback techniques
  • The principles and mechanisms of the NQF
  • Assessment policies and ETQA requirements

Supplementary information

Definition of terms:

  • Assessment – a process  in which evidence  of performance  is gathered  and evaluated against agreed criteria.
  • Performance – includes skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, and the ability to transfer these to new situations.
  • Assessment criteria – state the type and quality of performance against which the candidate is assessed.

Principles of assessment:

  • Appropriate: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed and the activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as closely as possible.
  • Fair: The method of assessment does not present any barriers that are not related to the evidence.
  • Manageable: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integrated into  work  or  learning:  Evidence  collection  is  integrated  into  the  work  or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Valid: The evidence produced focuses on the requirements laid down in the standard; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Relevant: The evidence is relevant to the outcome.
  • Authentic: The evidence is attributable to the person being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: The assessment process is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Assessment candidates understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The  same  assessor  would  make  the  same  judgement  again  in  similar circumstances. The judgement made is similar to the judgement that would be made by

other assessors.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             39

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

TITLE

Plan and conduct assessment of learning

Unit standard number:              ASSMT 01

Unit standard level:                  NQF 5

Credits:                                       15

Field:                                          Education, Training and Development

Sub-field:                                    All sub-fields

Issue date:                                  14 February 2001

Review date:                              14 February 2004

Purpose

This unit standard is for people who assess or intend to assess candidates against unit standards and/or qualifications. This unit standard will contribute towards the achievement of a variety of Education Training and Development Practices and Human Resource Development related qualifications.

People credited with this unit standard are able to assess learner performance against standards and qualifications registered on the NQF, using pre-designed instruments. This will be carried out in a fair, valid, reliable and practicable manner that is free of all bias and discrimination, paying particular attention to the three groups targeted for redress: race, gender and disability.

Learning assumed to be in place

The credit calculation is based on the assumption that learners have no previous assessment experience  when starting to learn towards this unit standard. A candidate  being assessed against this standard should have a prior qualification or equivalent competence in the relevant field of expertise. This qualification or equivalent competence should be at or above the level of qualifications/ unit standards that are to be assessed. Although it is not a requirement, it is recommended that those intending to achieve the unit standard “Design assessment instruments and guides”, should do so before attempting this unit standard.

Specific outcomes

Specific outcome 1:   Plan and prepare for assessment Specific outcome 2:   Prepare candidates for assessment Specific outcome 3:   Conduct assessment

Specific outcome 4:    Evaluate and record evidence and make assessment judgements

Specific outcome 5:    Provide feedback to relevant parties

Specific outcome 6:    Review assessment

40                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcomes and assessment criteria

Specific outcome 1:        Plan and prepare for assessment

Range:

  • Planning for assessment following learning processes and for RPL.
  • Planning assumes access to a range of pre-designed assessment instruments relevant to organisational assessment policies.
  • Planning must  include  assessments  that  require  special  needs  of  candidates  to  be considered.

Assessment criteria

1.1   Plans address all the assessment requirements of the unit standards or qualifications to be addressed.

Range: assessment requirements include performance to be assessed, types of evidence to be collected, assessment methods used, timing of assessment, resources required, sequence of activities, accountabilities, deadlines, arrangements for reviewing assessment plan.

1.2   Planning addresses the need for cost-effectiveness and takes into account the results of previous assessments, special needs of candidates, the assessment context, the accessibility and safety of the environment and contingencies.

1.3  The assessment activities, instruments and resources selected are appropriate to the outcomes and enable valid and sufficient evidence collection.

1.4   Assessment documentation is prepared to facilitate efficient and effective assessment.

The documentation provides all details of the assessment process needed to ensure fair, open, reliable and consistent assessment.

Range: Details include instructions to candidates, assessors and other relevant parties.

1.5   Potential unfair barriers to achievement by candidates are identified and plans are made to address such barriers without compromising the validity of the assessment.

Range: Unfair could relate to issues such as language or disabilities.

1.6   Required physical and human resources are ensured to be ready and available for use.

Logistical arrangements are confirmed with relevant roleplayers prior to the assessment.

1.7   Provision for moderation is made in accordance with relevant assessment policies and

ETQA requirements.

1.8  A variety of assessment methods are described and compared in terms of strengths, weaknesses and applications.

Range: The description of methods should cover situations for gathering evidence of abilities in problem solving, knowledge, understanding, practical and technical skills,

personal and attitudinal skills and values.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Specific outcome 2:        Prepare candidates for assessment

Assessment criteria

2.1   Assessment details are made explicit, in terms appropriate to the candidate’s language level and in a manner that sets candidates at ease. Opportunities for clarification are provided and responses promote understanding of the requirements.

Range: Assessment details cover the purpose, process, expectations, roles, responsibilities and appeals procedures.

2.2   Clear explanations are provided to the candidate of the key elements and implications of standards-based assessment within the context of the NQF.

2.3  Checks are carried out to ensure candidates are ready for assessment. In cases where candidates are deemed to be not yet ready, actions taken are in line with assessment policies.

2.4   Opportunities are provided for input from the candidate on possible sources of evidence that could contribute to valid assessment. Modifications made on the basis of the inputs maintain and/or improve the validity of the assessment.

Specific outcome 3:        Conduct assessment and document evidence

Assessment criteria

3.1   The environment and assessment practices are ensured to be conducive to effective, fair and safe assessment and where applicable, in line with recognised codes of practice and learning site or worksite standard operating procedures.

Range: codes of practice could include personal, product and worksite health, safety and environmental practices, and current legislation.

3.2   The assessment is carried out in accordance with the assessment plan. The assessment approach is adapted as required by the situation, and unforeseen events are addressed without compromising the validity or fairness of the assessment.

3.3   Language and expressions used are at a level appropriate to the candidate and provide for clear understanding of what is required without leading candidates.

3.4  Questioning techniques are appropriate and have the potential to successfully elicit appropriate responses.

3.5   Sufficient evidence is gathered, including evidence generated over time, to enable valid, consistent and fair assessment judgements to be made.

3.6   The  recording  of  evidence  is  sufficient  for  the  purposes  of  making  assessment judgements, meaningful feedback, moderation and possible appeals.

3.7   Key principles of assessment are described in terms of their importance and effect on the

assessment and the application of the assessment results.

42                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcome 4         Evaluate evidence and make assessment judgements

Range: The ability to make assessment  judgements  must be demonstrated  using diverse sources of evidence and in situations where:

  • Special needs of candidates need to be considered;
  • Candidates meet all criteria;
  • Candidates clearly do not meet the criteria;
  • Candidates meet some, but not all criteria; and
  • More evidence is required in order to make a judgement.

Assessment criteria

4.1   Evidence is evaluated for authenticity, validity and sufficiency.

4.2   The quality and type of evidence is evaluated in terms of the assessment outcomes, against the criteria in the relevant unit standard or qualifications.

4.3  The evaluation of evidence includes making allowances for contingencies beyond the control of the candidate without compromising the fairness or validity of the assessment. Range: Contingencies include unforeseen events, breakdowns, changed circumstances.

4.4   Assessment  judgements  are justified  by the quality and sufficiency  of the evidence.

Judgements can be substantiated in terms of the consistency and repeatability of the candidate’s performance and evidence from various sources and time periods.

4.5   Evidence and judgements are stored in line with the Quality Assurance system used by the organisation.

Specific outcome 5:        Provide feedback to relevant parties

Range:

  • Parties include  candidates,  educators,  trainers,  officials,  managers  and  moderators  as applicable to the situation.
  • Evidence must be provided of the ability to give written and oral feedback.
  • The ability to give feedback must be demonstrated in situations where:
  • Special needs of candidates need to be considered;
  • Candidates meet all criteria;
  • Candidates clearly do not meet the criteria;
  • Candidates meet some, but not all criteria; and
  • More evidence is required before a judgement is possible.

Assessment criteria

5.1   Feedback is given to relevant parties in accordance with confidentiality requirements, in an appropriate sequence and within agreed timeframes.

5.2   Feedback  focuses  on  the  quality  and  sufficiency  of  the  candidate’s  performance  in relation to the agreed outcomes and criteria.

5.3   The type and manner of giving feedback is constructive and related to the party’s needs.

Sufficient information is provided to enable the purpose of the assessment to be met, and to enable parties to make further decisions.

Range: Further  decisions  include  awarding  of credit  and redirecting  candidates  to

learning or re-assessment.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

5.4   Feedback on the assessment process is obtained from the candidate and opportunities are provided for clarification and explanation.

5.5   Disputes that arise are dealt with in accordance with the assessment policy.

5.6 Agreements reached and key elements of the feedback are recorded in line with organisational quality assurance systems.

5.7  The feedback process and models are described in terms of the potential impact on candidates and further learning and assessment.

Specific outcome 6:    Review assessment

Assessment criteria

6.1   The review identifies good and bad practice in assessment design and process, and notes these for incorporation in assessment redesign.

6.2   Feedback from relevant parties is used to effect future assessments positively.

6.3   Weaknesses  in the assessment  design and process that could have compromised  the fairness of assessment are identified and dealt with in accordance with the assessment policy.

6.4   Weaknesses in the assessment arising from poor quality of unit standards or qualifications are identified, and steps are taken to inform relevant bodies.

Accreditation process

An individual wishing to be assessed, (including through RPL) against this unit standard may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA.

Anyone assessing a learner-assessor against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.

Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.

Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA at its discretion.

Range statements

This is a generic assessment unit standard, and candidates can be assessed within any field of learning in line with their subject matter expertise. For the purposes of assessment of this unit standard, candidates should have access to pre-designed assessment instruments.

Further range statements are provided in the body of the unit standard where they apply to particular specific outcomes or assessment criteria.

44                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Notes

Unit standards   B

Critical crossfield outcomes

The following critical crossfield outcomes are addressed by this unit standard:

  • Identify and  solve  problems  using  critical  and  creative  thinking:  planning  for contingencies, candidates with special needs, problems that arise during assessment, suggesting changes to assessment;
  • Work effectively in a team using critical and creative thinking: working with candidates and other relevant parties during assessment, as well as post-assessment;
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities: planning, preparing, conducting and recording the assessment;
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information: gather, evaluate and judge evidence and the assessment process;
  • Communicate effectively:  prepare  candidates  for  assessment,  communicate  during assessment, and provide feedback;
  • Demonstrate the world as a set of related systems: understanding the impact of assessment on individuals and organisations; and
  • Be culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts: plan, conduct and give feedback on assessments in a culturally sensitive manner.

Essential embedded knowledge

The following essential embedded knowledge will be assessed through assessment of the specific outcomes in terms of the stipulated assessment criteria. Candidates are unlikely to achieve all the specific outcomes, to the standards described in the assessment criteria, without knowledge  of  the  listed  embedded  knowledge.  This  means  that  for  the  most  part,  the possession or lack of the knowledge can be directly inferred from the quality of the candidate’s performance. Where direct assessment of knowledge is required, assessment criteria have been included in the body of the unit standard.

  • Principles of assessment – see assessment criterion 3.7
  • Principles and practices of RPL
  • Methods of assessment – see assessment criterion 1.8
  • Potential barriers to assessment
  • Feedback models – see assessment criterion 5.7
  • The principles and mechanisms of the NQF
  • Assessment policies and ETQA requirements
  • Moderation requirements

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Supplementary information

Definition of terms:

  • Assessment – a process  in which evidence  of performance  is gathered  and evaluated against agreed criteria.
  • Performance – includes skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, and the ability to transfer these to new situations.
  • Assessment criteria – state the type and quality of performance against which the candidate is assessed.
  • Candidate – person whose performance is being assessed by the assessor.

Principles of assessment:

  • Appropriateness: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed.
  • Fairness: The method of assessment does not present any barriers to achievements, which are not related to the evidence.
  • Manageability: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integration into work or learning: Evidence  collection  is integrated  into the work or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Validity: The assessment focuses on the requirements laid down in the standard; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Direct: The activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as closely as possible.
  • Authenticity: The assessor is satisfied that the work being assessed is attributable to the person being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: Planning and recording is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Assessment candidates understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The  same  assessor  would  make  the  same  judgement  again  in  similar circumstances.

The judgement made is similar to the judgement that would be made by other assessors.

46                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

Appendix  C

Models and issues for practice

Introduction

As part of the development of this policy, a review of international and local RPL projects and practices was undertaken, so that lessons learned from other contexts and in South Africa could be used to inform the development of a forward-thinking RPL policy for South Africa. The approach taken in this description is briefly to outline a few RPL case studies that speak to some of the issues and principles that are being highlighted in this document. It will not seek to provide great detail on how RPL is practised in each context, nor does it cover all countries internationally that implement RPL.

A holistic model for portfolio development

In  Canada  we  find  an  example  of  innovative  prior  learning  assessment  and  recognition (PLAR) among indigenous communities. The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) in Ontario is an Aboriginally owned and managed education institution that has developed an

‘alternative’ set of practices within portfolio development. In this context, the portfolio is used not only as a method of assessment in a narrow academic sense but also as a way to explore a wide range of individual and collective learning stemming from colonialism and social and cultural oppression. In a context in which both personal healing and cultural renewal are seen as part of the whole educational programme, educators and learners are encouraged to develop a wide range of learning, assessment and therapeutic skills with which to reconstruct their lives, their communities and the whole approach to education and training. According to FNTI, a valid assessment of past learning cannot take place outside this context; when constructing a portfolio of past experiences, individual students inevitably confront the barriers to learning and assessment, both those that arise from its structural and political realities, as well as from the ways in which adult learners have painfully internalised them (Michelson 1997).

Increasing adult learner participation rates in higher education

It is in the USA that prior learning assessment (PLA) developed approximately 25 years ago. One of the most interesting features of the USA model is its commitment to lifelong learning and to increasing access to learning opportunities for adults in meaningful and cost-effective ways. Thus, since the 1970s, there has been a concerted effort in many institutions in the USA to increase access to HE for adult learners. This has been successful to the degree that, in 1999,

41.1% of all undergraduate students at USA colleges and universities were over the age of 24 (Dumbleton & Strain 1999). Some universities, such as DePaul University in Chicago and New  York  State  University,  have  colleges  dedicated  to  adult  learners  (School  for  New

Learning and Empire State College respectively).

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

One of South Africa’s earliest RPL pilot projects was started at the University of the Free State. A ’niche’ qualification, targeting working adults in positions of management and leadership, but without having formal qualifications, was started in 1999. Two of the programme’s cornerstones are its RPL component (of which portfolio development is a significant  part)  and  its  flexible  curriculum  structure  that  allows  learners  to adapt  their learning  programmes  to suit their learning  and career needs. The portfolio  development course (PDC) is compulsory for all candidates wishing to enter the Bachelor in Management Leadership (BML). For those candidates who have the necessary matriculation exemption, the course is credit-bearing. For those candidates without matric or matriculation exemption, the PDC has been approved by the Matriculation Board as an alternative entry onto the BML, and these candidates make up the extra credits elsewhere in the course. The demand for the course has been extremely high, and the course is now offered off-campus and in other provinces of South Africa.

Creating an enabling framework for RPL through a National

RPL centre

In the Netherlands, Erkennen van elders of informeel Verworven Competenties (EVC) is being applied in order to contribute to the skills shortage by increasing the flexible ‘deployment’ of individuals by identifying their current competencies and using educational planning to fast- track appropriate new learning that is individualised. RPL practice in the Netherlands has not yet moved much beyond an experimental phase, and its implementation success is due largely to ‘enthusiastic pioneers’. For this reason, the Dutch government set up the Knowledge Centre APL, with funding, at the beginning of 2001 for a period of four years. The functions of the Knowledge Centre APL are: the development of expertise and dissemination of information on APL; research and development of best practices; networking; and supporting the new vocational qualifications framework.

Models  of regional  RPL provisioning

Two very different types of regional RPL arrangements have been found in North America. The one, representing institutional collaboration, is one of very few of its kind. The other type of arrangement, a community-based and/or semi-independent RPL centre, is more common.

Vermont State Colleges (VSC)

The VSC is a partnership between 15 community colleges in Vermont, USA. The VSC RPL service is aimed at learners who do not fulfill the conventional college entry requirements, or who have learning from experience for which they wish to gain credit towards a formal college qualification. Most of the learners who do the programme request first or second year college credits. Learners can sign up at any participating institution in Vermont, and the portfolio development course (the main assessment tool) is implemented from a common template. Furthermore, the learner need not necessarily apply for further learning at the institution where s/he is receiving portfolio development assistance.

48                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

The programme is co-ordinated from a central office with two staff members who play a co- ordinating and administrative role. The VSC draws its assessors from the participating institutions, and industry where appropriate. Each participating institution has instructors (or advisors) trained in helping learners understand and complete the portfolio, which is then submitted to the central office. Copies of the portfolios are subsequently  redistributed  to subject-specific panels of academic assessors representing the member institutions, as well as to  an  industry  representative  where  appropriate.  The  assessors  individually  assess  the portfolios and then come together at the central office to compare notes and consensually agree on and recommend a result. The credit(s) is transferable, not only across Vermont but also across the US, although it is up to the individual institution, where the RPL candidate may be applying to enter a programme of learning, to accept the RPL credit recommendation(s). The New England Association of Schools and Colleges certifies academical viability and transferability of credits across institutions.

The greatest strength of this model is the participative collaboration of all institutions, from delivering a common PDC, to jointly developing assessment criteria, and awarding of credit through panels of assessors.

PLA Centre, Halifax

The PLA Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada offers RPL services to individuals and organisations that have a range of development needs, from education and training; to those facing unemployment or retrenchment; to career advancement. The PLA Centre is a joint project involving five Halifax universities, the provincial community college system, representatives from community groups, voluntary organisations, labour, the private sector and government.

The Centre has a small staff of 4 to 5 housed in the ground floor of a shopping mall tower block in central Halifax. While most PLA in Canada focuses on helping learners access post- secondary education (PSE) the Halifax Centre process might include PSE access at some point in the learner’s development, but this is not its main emphasis. Assessors, advisors and trainers are drawn from the partner institutions. The Centre offers individuals and groups a range of RPL programmes and services, namely: individual interviews with a PLA advisor, the Transferable Skills Workshop, and a 30-hour portfolio development course.

Some of the strengths of this approach include its practicality for industry and large organisations like the navy, particularly given the rapidly changing nature of the world of work, and the need to re-skill people in the face of retrenchment. Also, RPL plays an important role in steering people away from social assistance and welfare, towards gainful employment and a sense of empowerment over their own life path and choices. Lastly, the Centre is accessible in terms of location and structure of services.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Workforce development projects

There are examples of RPL-inclusive workforce development projects in the USA, many of which are quite large, e.g. Ford Motor Company, Qwest, and IBM. However, such projects are not the norm. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has pioneered a model of workforce development that takes “the employed adult worker as the focal point, linking the needs and interests of employees, employer demands for skilled and flexible employees, and the capacity of educational providers” (Flynn et al 1994:2). The approach is collaborative and participative, and includes the following components: career and education planning, assessment of prior learning, motivational workshops, financial assistance for tuition, and a comprehensive information and fund management system through which all data, contracts and reports are processed.

In the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority (MERSETA) in South Africa, a model that is moving towards a holistic approach to RPL and related services is emerging. A RPL pilot project has been undertaken in the New Tyre Chamber. This project emerged from an evaluation of an early assessor training course in which components relating to bias and sensitivity, and RPL were inadequate. A new assessor training course, substantially inclusive of these components and aligned with the national unit standards for assessors, has been developed. Workers are provided with time off to attend a one-day ‘Returning to Learning’ workshop, in addition to one-on-one guidance, in order to assist them in preparing for their assessments. Various components of the project have been concerned with using and adapting similar strategies found in the FNTI model.

In 1997, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) undertook a participatory RPL research project in the auto and mining sectors. The project is important in highlighting some of the problems that can undermine RPL implementation if not addressed in the planning and consensus-building stages. For example, it emerged that management and workers had different purposes in mind for the RPL activity (management wanted a skills audit, while workers assumed that they would be recognised, receive higher pay and have access to further education and training opportunities). A number of factors contributed to workers being disillusioned with RPL: information relating to RPL procedures and assessment tools was not readily made available; some of the assessment tools used were inappropriate; many workers were given no opportunities to prepare for their assessments and nor did they have access to the standards or criteria against which they were to be assessed; many workers disregarded the outcome of their assessments, as the grading system was not explained, and no verbal feedback was  provided.  One  of  the  spin-offs  was  that  the  RPL  exercise  mitigated  against  the development  of a notion  of lifelong  learning. Also,  the equity  agenda  so often  assumed inherent in RPL practices did not meet the goal of certifying large numbers of workers.

The findings from the research were used to develop an RPL policy for COSATU affiliates that sets out eight implementations, including developing a union mandate, establishing a Joint Committee, agreeing on the purpose(s) of RPL, putting in place support structures for workers, in order to create a worker-supportive and participatory RPL framework for workplaces (COSATU 2000).

50                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

Some overall comments and issues emerging from the case studies

The discussion above highlighted a number of diverse approaches to providing RPL services and programmes, all of which reflect innovative responses to particular contexts, issues and stakeholders. However, in reviewing these case studies for the purpose of learning lessons for a broad-based implementation of RPL in South Africa, a number of important contextual issues and/or differences need to be highlighted.

Firstly, a number of case studies are from First World countries that are not faced with the same issues relating to levels of literacy, participation of citizens in formal education, or unemployment rates as occur in South Africa. Secondly, RPL in those contexts often takes place in a situation where one of the concerns relating to groups such as immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, is on assimilation into the culture, language and economy of the receiving country. Issues relating to the transformation of society to reflect the developmental needs of the majority are generally not part of the discourse or practice of RPL  in  the  First  World  contexts  examined.  Thirdly,  although  much  of  the  literature examined indicated that financial resources for RPL in these countries is insufficient, the resources that are available for RPL implementation is quite considerable, such as in the Netherlands. Fourthly, the issue of language, as in South Africa where the majority of people do not speak English, is less of an issue in these other contexts. Finally, the experience of the COSATU research, with regard to the social redress and equity agenda of RPL being undermined unless carefully designed, is an issue that has been foregrounded by the FNTI experience. It is evident that all stakeholders involved in RPL implementation and quality assurance  will  need  to  ensure  that  their  processes  are  inclusive,  participatory  and stakeholder-driven.

On the other hand, these case studies point to the fact that it is possible to provide RPL services more cost-effectively in a context of scarcer resources. The two regional models represent the basis on which more cost-effective options for South Africa can be explored. Secondly, the UFS case study indicates that where institutional will exists, non-traditional groups of learners can be accommodated within institutions in meaningful ways. The MERSETA case study demonstrates the possibilities for developing a holistic model within an economic sector.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

LIST OF SOURCES

1  COSATU (2000). Recognition of Prior Learning (Learning and work series); COSATU, supported by GTZ: Johannesburg.

2   Dumbleton, S. & Strain, C. (1999). Maximising the potential of the working adult to realise

“Vision for the year 2008”. Testimony presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education,

31 August 1999. (Unpublished paper).

3   South Africa. Department of Education, Department of Labour (2002). Report of the Study Team on the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework. Pretoria: Department of Education and Department of Labour.

4  Flower, R and Hawke, G. (2000). The Recognition of Prior Learning in Australia: An ambivalent Relationship with the Academy, Competency-Based Education and the Market. In: N. Evans (Ed.). Experiential Learning Around the World: Employability and the Global Economy. London: Jessica Kingsley.

5   Flynn, E, Winters, L and Mark, C. (1994). Extending education and training policy to adult workers: lessons from the CAEL workforce education model. Chicago: CAEL, Massachussets: Jobs for the Future.

6   Harris, J. (1999). Ways of seeing Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): what contribution can such practices make to social inclusion? Studies in the Education of Adults, 31:2, pp.124–139.

7   Michelson, E. (1997). Multicultural approaches to portfolio development. In: Rose A. and Leahy  M.  (Eds.).  Assessing  adult  learning  in  diverse  settings:  current  issues  and approaches.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

8   Osman, R., Castle, J. (2001). RPL: Early Lessons, Challenges and Promise. South African

Journal of Higher Education, 15:1, pp.54–60.

52                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction  and Development

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the funder

ISBN 0-9584572-1-2

South African Qualifications Authority

Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06, Waterkloof, Pretoria, 0145

SAQA: Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Download a copy of this policy form the SAQA website here:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/qmsetqa.pdf

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

P0LICY DOCUMENT

Please refer any queries in writing to:

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Director: Quality Assurance and Development RE: Quality Management Systems for ETQAs Postnet Suite 248

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Publication date: October 2001

ISBN: 0958441952

Funded by the European Union under the European

Programme for Reconstruction and Development

Quality Management

Systems  for ETQAs

THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY

Table of Contents

Executive Summary                                                                            5

1  Introduction                                                                                   7

2  Quality Terminology                                                                       9

3  Quality Management Systems                                                    12

4  A Quality Management System for the National

Qualifications and Standards Framework (NQF)                      15

5  The ETQAs Role in the Quality Management

System for the NQF                                                                     20

6  Variations in the Contexts in which the ETQAs serving

different sectors will operate that may impact on their QMS   36

Appendix 1: The Purposes of Learning                                         46

Definition of Terms                                                                          47

Bibliography                                                                                     48

Notes, Tables and Diagrams

Note 1:       A Note about Cost                                                         11

Table 1:       Characteristics of a Quality Management System            13

Diagram 1: Quality Spirals                                                               14

Table 2:       Managing Quality in the NQF System                              16

Table 3:       The Quality Management Roles of ETQAs within

the NQF System                                                            21

Table 4:       Activities associated with the Quality Management

Roles of ETQAs                                                            23

Table 5:       Some differences between ETQAs from the two

identified sectors that will influence their QMS.               44

Table 6:       Primary Reasons for Learning                                         46

Executive summary

E

ducation and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs), while independent bodies, by definition exist as an integral part of the system established to introduce and implement the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Along with the other components of the system (SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating bodies and Providers), ETQAs are a part of the NQF quality

management system.

ETQAs in the two identified sectors, (Education and Training sub-system and Economic sectors), have to deal with providers of different sizes and cultures, who frequently will provide learning for different purposes in terms of different qualifications and standards. The ETQAs in these two sectors are likely to vary in size and in their wider roles beyond the NQF. While the fundamentals of a quality management system for ETQAs are relevant to all, there will be variations between the sectors. It is unlikely that one model of quality assurance management will suit all. The outcomes, however, should be the same; the development of a quality culture that benefits learners and society as described by the objectives of the NQF.

Quality management depends on creating a quality culture, which amongst other things, means everyone accepts full responsibility for quality and has the flexibility to respond to their particular situation.

For these reasons, SAQA is not going to prescribe a detailed quality management system for

ETQAs.

However, any ETQA quality management system will include the following essential roles:

  • Create and sustain a quality culture.
  • Contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of qualifications and standards.
  • Confirm that providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and/or assessment have the requisite skills.
  • Confirm that providers regularly monitor and report on the quality and effectiveness of learning and qualifications and standards.
  • Confirm that the providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities.
  • Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect.
  • Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their customers: SAQA, providers, SGBs, NSBs and stakeholders.
  • Monitor providers’ outcomes and internal audit process and report back to providers, SAQA and NSBs.

There will be some questions and considerations common to each of these that all ETQAs will need to address. These are identified and discussed, as are some of the key differences in the contexts in which the ETQAs serving the education and training sub-system and economic sector-learning environment will operate.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            5

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

ETQAs, together with SAQA, play a pivotal role within the quality management system of the NQF system. They can foster a quality culture within the NQF System both through creating such a culture within their own organisation and through helping and encouraging providers to do the same. However, if they are to foster a quality culture, they will depend on the other parts of the NQF system (SAQA, NSB/SGB, Providers and Moderating Bodies) to play their part and will need to help them to do so.

In order to foster a quality culture amongst providers ETQAs are likely to use a combination of:

  • Initial accreditation that requires providers to undertake a range of assessments (e.g. self and peer) and quality assurance activities and to report on the outcomes of these activities.
  • Monitoring activities that include the direct auditing of reports, systems, processes and outcomes and the judicious use of technically sound external evaluation.
  • The use of technically sound assessments to confirm the knowledge and skills of learners, especially where the associated qualifications and standards are to inform high-stakes decisions.
  • Annual reviews that include establishing and agreeing with providers’ new quality goals, taking into account the previous year’s achievements and the outcomes of monitoring

activities.

6                                                                                                           Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 1

Introduction

R

egulation R1127, under the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 specifies the roles and responsibilities  of Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs). ETQAs are accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

for:

“The purpose of monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards or qualifications and standards.”

The ETQAs, while independent bodies, by definition exist as an integral part of the system established to introduce and implement the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Along with  the  other  components  of  the  system,  SAQA,  National  Standards  Bodies  (NSBs), Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs), Moderating Bodies and Providers, ETQAs are a part of the NQF quality management system. However, as independent organisations, each ETQA is responsible for the quality of the services it provides to its customers and therefore must maintain its own internal quality management system.

The ETQA Regulation (R1127) gives the following definition of a quality management

system:

“The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.”

To paraphrase the objectives specified by the Act, the ultimate purposes of the system are to:

  • Enhance learning in South Africa by increasing the number of learners, the frequency of learning, the amount they learn, and the relevance and durability of what is learned.
  • Establish a framework of qualifications and standards that are relevant, credible and accessible.

Relevant learning is defined as that which contributes to:

  • Developing the full personal potential of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.
  • Facilitating mobility and progression within education, training and career paths. The credibility of a qualification depends on:
  • Its relevance (or fitness for purpose).
  • The confidence of those who use it as an indicator of the skills and knowledge of the holder.
  • Its accessibility to those who aspire to gain it.

With regard to accessibility generally, the Act specifically requires the system to accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities. This document is a detailed examination of quality management systems.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            7

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The following section explains quality-related terminology. The subsequent sections suggest an  approach  to  quality  management  for  the  NQF  system  as  a  whole  followed  by  an examination  of  the  ETQAs’  role  within  the  system.  Lastly,  possible  differences  in  the challenges that face ETQAs in different sectors, and the implications of how they fulfill their role, are discussed.

8                                                                                                           Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 2

Quality Terminology

“Q

uality” has become a discipline in its own right, and, like many disciplines, terms assume very specific meanings. In many contexts, where experts will understand the differences  between  the  terms;  many  lay  people  will  think  they  are  synonymous.  The following  explanations  of key terminology  are offered to help clarify understanding  and

stimulate dialogue.

Quality Management Systems (QMS)

The ETQA Regulation (R1127) gives the following definition:

“The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.”

A more general explanation of the purpose of a QMS would be as follows:

“A quality management system is the sum of the activities and information an organisation uses to enable it to better and more consistently  deliver products  and services that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its customers and beneficiaries, more cost effectively and cost efficiently, today and in the future.”

Ultimately QMS is about creating a “quality” culture across an organisation.

Key considerations in QMS are securing continual improvement in quality, today and in the future. It is about more than sustaining quality or even assuring quality today. It is about maximising the ability of the organisation to consistently deliver high quality products and services into the future, in changing circumstances. Quality Assurance, Quality Audit and  Quality Control are elements  of, but not the totality  of, a  Quality Management System.

Critical elements of a quality management system that are not normally associated with quality assurance/audit/control are those concerned with:

  • Enhancing quality, cost effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Positioning the organisation so that it can sustain quality standards during periods of change.
  • Ensuring prompt and effective responses to changes in the expectations and needs of customers.

Organisations that adopt quality management systems assume that everyone in the organisation impacts on the quality of services or products. It is generally recognised that in all but the

smallest  organisations,  prompt  responses  to  change  depend  on  flattening  organisational

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            9

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

hierarchy and delegating as much responsibility as is possible to those who directly deliver the service(s). Effective responses depend on a clear understanding of what is important to the client, what the required standard is, and ownership of the requisite skills and knowledge.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance refers to the sum of activities that assure the quality of products and services at the time of production or delivery. It includes:

  • Clarifying and describing accurately and comprehensively what the customer expects and needs.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have a clear, comprehensive and accurate understanding of the quality standard.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have available resources and systems that can deliver the required quality.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have the skills, knowledge and motivation to make the products or deliver the service.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have the means and skills to monitor the quality of what they make or deliver and to modify what they do to better meet the required standard.
  • Independently auditing and monitoring quality and feeding back this information to those who produce or provide or are otherwise in a position to contribute to enhancing quality.

Quality assurance procedures are frequently applied only to the activities and products associated directly with the goods and services provided to external customers.

Quality Audits

Quality Auditing is part of, but not the totality of, a Quality Assurance System. Quality audits are activities undertaken to measure the quality of products or services that have already been made or delivered. Where a product or service has a number of components, each component may be subject to an audit. The findings of such an audit could contribute to achieving the desired quality end product or service. However, it is the decisions taken in response to the findings of the audit that influence the quality experienced by the customer, either with respect to that which has been audited or with respect to future products or services. Often different people  take  these  decisions  to  those  who  carry  out  the  audit;  indeed  it  is  generally recommended that it should be so. Therefore, in itself a quality audit has no impact on quality.

Quality Control

A Quality Audit only controls quality when the findings are used to decide whether or not a product is delivered to the customer. An audit cannot control the quality of a service because the audit can only happen while the service is being delivered or afterwards. At best an audit may influence the quality of services in the future.

The person who makes the product or delivers the service controls quality ultimately.

Even where an audit is used to decide if a product is fit to deliver to the external customer, the

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Quality Terminology      2

person or people who make the product control the quality of goods that are delivered to the auditor: the internal customer.

Note 1: A Note about Quality and Cost

In many  contexts  quality  management  systems  are often  regarded  as a zero  cost  item.  The outcome of an effective quality management system means that an organisation provides products or services that consistently  meet or exceed customers  expectations,  even as the expectations and needs change. As a result, the organisation will be able to recover the cost of the QMS through increased business, through reduced waste, reduced expenditure associated with pacifying dissatisfied customers and making good that which is unsatisfactory, and/or through being able to charge a higher price for increased added-value.

The means by which Providers of education,  training and qualifications  and standards,  or any other part of the NQF system will be able to recover costs is not clear.

Quality management systems thus will have a cost. The challenge is to create and operate quality

management systems that maximise effectiveness within the resources that are available.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 3

Quality Management Systems

The achievement, maintenance and enhancement of quality depend on establishing an organisational culture that puts quality first. While the processes of quality assurance and auditing  are  important,  they  tend  to  deal  with  the  here  and  now.  On  the  other  hand, achievement of consistently high standards of quality, even when product and service specifications change, depends on establishing strong foundations and preparing for the future. A quality management system is concerned with assuring and maximising quality now and in the future.

As already noted, it is the person who delivers a service or makes a product that controls its quality. However, everybody employed in an organisation, directly or indirectly impacts on the quality of products or services as experienced by the ultimate customer: the external customer. Each team and employee has a customer for his or her activities, often within the organisation itself: an internal customer.

Thus, an important facet of a QMS is empowering and enabling each employee and team to deliver services or products of the quality required by their customers, internal or external, today, tomorrow, next week and next year. Given the pace of change, frequently this can only be effected if each employee is enabled and empowered to adapt practices and procedures to better  meet  new  customer  expectations  and  needs.  This  argues  for  minimising  what  is prescribed in order to avoid inhibiting desirable action.

On the other hand, each employee needs to be clear about who their customers are and what their needs and expectations are. This information needs to be readily available in a clear and easily understandable form. Further, as the external customers’ needs or expectations change, as the organisation introduces new technologies, materials and systems to better, more cost effectively and efficiently meet the external customers’ expectations and needs, so the needs of internal customers will change. Individual employees therefore need to know what is expected of them, and this information has to be made available in a way that can be quickly modified to reflect changes.

If employees are to be empowered and enabled to enhance the quality of the services and products that they create or provide, they need to know how well they are doing and what could be done better. They need regular, authoritative and constructive feedback on performance. This means that the quality of products and services delivered needs to be regularly monitored. Additionally, customer satisfaction needs to be regularly monitored in order to ensure that the quality standard continues to meet their needs and expectations.

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Quality Management Systems   3

Table  1: Characteristics of a Quality Management System

To summarise, a QMS:

  1. Identifies the customer or beneficiary (internal or external) for each role within an organisation and specifies the current standard that will meet or exceed the customer’s or beneficiary’s needs and expectations.
  1. Ensures all employees are empowered  and enabled to continually  contribute  to achieving the required quality standard.

All employees and teams within the organisation should know how their responsibilities affect product   or  service  quality   and  have  criteria   against  which   they  can  measure  their performances as they impact on quality. As part of this, each employee should know who his or her customers are (who benefits or depends on their activities) and what would constitute a high quality of service for them.

Each employee or team should be equipped  with the skills, knowledge  and resources of the necessary quality to be able to deliver products  or services of the required standard.

  1. 3. Ensures all employees are empowered and enabled to monitor their impact on quality and contribute to its

All employees and teams should be enabled and required to continually monitor their impact on quality (and be provided with independent audit information about their conformance  with the required standard), so that they can identify  where they could  contribute  to enhancing quality, and plan and take action toward that end.

Users’  perceptions   of  the  quality  of  services  received  should  be  reviewed  regularly. Providers of services should review feedback from users and identify how quality might be improved, and plan and act to improve performance.

  1. Creates and sustains a ‘quality’ culture.

The continual and consistent  achievement and maintenance of high quality standards under conditions  where clients’ expectations  are likely to continue to change depends on creating and supporting  a quality culture in the organisation.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In essence, an effective quality management system establishes a quality spiral as standards are continually enhanced.

Diagram 1: Quality Spirals

14                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 4

A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

In many ways, the NQF System is comparable to a large organisation, having a clear and shared purpose laid out in the Act. Within the “NQF Organisation” SAQA creates the vision, sets the policies, defines the timetable, delegates the tasks and defines quality of performance for those to whom they are delegated. It is the equivalent of the Board and senior executive of an organisation. The SGBs define the service standards in terms of the specific outcomes that should match the vision described by SAQA. The Providers are the powerhouses, the productive unit, the creators and constituent Providers of the service. The ETQAs have the quality audit and assurance role.

But what of the NSBs and the suggested Moderating Bodies? What is their role within this organisation? Their task is complex and diverse. As already discussed, the NQF entails providing services that are diverse in the content, as diverse as the customers for the service. By creating multiple NSBs, to act in essence as agents of SAQA, this diversity is managed. SAQA requires that each NSB include representation from the various stakeholders for the ultimate service. In this way, SAQA is seeking to ensure that the standards developed by individual SGBs reflect the vision, address the problems identified and meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders. Their role is to quality assure the standards setters.

The potential Moderating Bodies have a similar role. To simplify operations, Providers are to be served by a single ETQA, but the implementation of standards is not to be limited to a particular sector of Providers. (Indeed this would be contrary to two of the goals of the Act, the development of an integrated framework and enhanced mobility between the different parts of the system of Providers). So different ETQAs will be quality-assuring  services based  on  the  same  standards.  Mobility  and  credibility  will  depend  on  an  adequately consistent interpretation of the standards by all that use them. The role of the Moderating Bodies will be to assure this consistency across ETQAs. They too are agents of SAQA.

Table 2 examines the responsibilities of each part of the “NQF Organisation” in managing quality.

As will be noted, each body within the “NQF Organisation” contributes to the quality management system in a variety of ways. Through its consultations and publications, and through fostering wider debate, SAQA is fostering a quality culture. It is also enabling its partners to play their part through clarifying their roles and responsibilities and by helping

them to examine what that means in the context of the NQF.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table  2: Managing Quality in the  “NQF Organisation”

Responsibilities

SAQA                                 SGBs

Create and sustain a ‘quality’ culture throughout the “NQF Organisation”

Continually ask of itself and of all parts of the NQF Organi-sation “How are we doing, how could we do

better?”

Identification of customers and

beneficiaries

Defined by the Act

Interpreted by SAQA

Ensure the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity

of the standards and qualifications

General expectation specified by the Act, interpreted by SAQA, especially regarding

breadth, nature and format

Define clear, comprehensive standards and qualifications that are fit for the various purposes defined by the Act

and SAQA

Ensure standard and qualifications is accurately and comprehensively understood

Provide general guidance about the standards and qualifications and their purpose and the wider goals of the NQF

Provide specific guidance regarding the purpose, interpretation and application of the standards and qualifications, associated

learning and assessment

Ensure facilitator of learning and assessment has relevant skills and knowledge to facilitate learning and

design sound assessments

Ensure that facilitators of learning and assessment have access to the requisite

skills and knowledge

Provide guidance on the skills and knowledge required by the facilitator of

learning and assessment

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A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

Providers                           ETQAs                               NSBs                                  Moderating Bodies

Continually ask of themselves, “How are we doing, how could we do better? What do our customers require of us?

How can we ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

What do our ‘internal customers’ (SGBs, Providers, ETQAs, NSBs and Moderating Bodies) need of us?

How can we ensure they are getting what they need and expect of us?

Enable and empower employees to deliver services to or above the required or expected standard

Regularly set goals for new and improved services, design and deliver improved services that meet or exceed customers’ expectations

Help customers identify learning opportunities and qualifications and standards that match their needs and

aspirations

Contribute to assuring standards quality by collecting field information and providing feedback to

NSBs/SGBs

Assure standards and qualifications developed by SGBs match the expectations and needs

of SAQA

Ensure facilitators of learning and assessment are adequately briefed, receive the standards and qualifications in good time

and can accurately interpret

the guidance

Assure that standards and qualifications can be easily and accurately interpreted by facilitators of learning and assessment and that

comprehensive and useable

guidance is available

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment have the relevant skills and knowledge or can readily acquire them

Confirm that Providers ensure that facilitator of learning and assessment has requisite skills and knowledge

Ensure that SGBs provide clear, valid and comprehensive guidance on the skills and knowledge that facilitators of learning and

assessment will require

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table  2 continued:  Managing Quality in the  “NQF Organisation”

Responsibilities                         SAQA                              SGBs

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment can and does monitor the effectiveness of learning and assessment strategies

Ensure relevant training of learning and assessment facilitator in technically sound assessment methods

is readily accessible

Ensure that resources of a suitable quality are available

Define standards and qualifications that are realistic given the resources that are, or can be made

available.

Provide guidance on the resources that are required to facilitate and assess

learning

Regularly assess customer satisfaction, report on it and identify where expectations and needs are not being met

Audit service quality and report on that is achieved

Regularly seek and receive feedback from Government and national representatives of key stakeholder groups

Regularly seek and receive feedback from ‘internal customers’: NSBs, Providers, ETQAs and stakeholders represented on the SGBs

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4

A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

Providers                             ETQAs                               NSBs                        Moderating Bodies

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment has assessor skills and regularly monitors effectiveness of learning facilitation and

assessment activities

Confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitator of learning and assessment regularly monitors and reports on effectiveness of learning and assessment

activities

Ensure that the facilitator of learning and assessment modifies practices when desirable, in the light of

past effectiveness

Confirm that Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from

monitoring activities

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment knows and understands the resources necessary to achieve the required

standard and qualifications.

Ensure standards and qualifications are realistic given the resources that are, or could be made, available

Provide those resources that fall within the responsibility of the

Providers

Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect

Ensure clear and adequate guidance on resources required is made available

Regularly seek, receive and evaluate feedback from learners for qualifications and standards and their

sponsors

Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their

‘internal customers’: SAQA, Providers, NSBs/SGBs and

stakeholders

Regularly seek and receive feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA and stakeholders represented

on NSBs

Regularly seek and receive feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA and ETQAs

Establish and operate internal audit processes

Monitor Providers outcomes and internal audit processes. Report to Providers, SAQA

and NSBs/SGBs

Monitor ETQAs and report to SAQA and give feedback to ETQAs

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 5

The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Regulations R1127, under the South African Qualifications and standards Authority Act, 1995 specifies the roles and responsibilities of ETQAs. They are accredited by SAQA for “the purpose of monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards or qualifications and standards”.

Their quality management functions are to:

  1. Accredit  Constituent  Providers  (subject  to  them  having the  capacity  to  deliver relevant learning and assessment opportunities) for specific standards or qualifications and standards.
  2. Promote quality amongst Providers.
  3. Monitor provision by Providers.
  4. Evaluate assessment (by Providers) and facilitate moderation amongst Providers.
  5. Register constituent assessors for specified standards or qualifications.
  6. Take responsibility for the certification of learners.
  7. Co-operate with Moderating Bodies appointed by SAQA.
  8. Recommend  new  standards  or  qualifications  to  NSBs,  or  modifications  to  existing standards.
  9. Maintain a database acceptable to SAQA.
  10. Submit reports.
  11. 1 Perform such other functions as may be assigned by SAQA.

While an ETQA can delegate some of these functions, for example to providers, they cannot delegate accountability.

Of the 10 functions specified in detail and that contribute to quality management, only two, functions 3 and 4, directly pertain to auditing and monitoring quality as specified in the Regulations. One might speculate that this is a practical compromise arising from the recognition that auditing and monitoring are amongst the least cost-effective methods of assuring and securing the required quality but probably have the highest level of credibility in the eyes of the public. Nevertheless, it is also important to keep in mind that the Regulations recognise that the ETQAs will influence quality in a variety of ways including but not solely through auditing and monitoring.

Table  2  identifies  55  ways  in  which  the  bodies  that  make  up  the  “NQF  Organisation” contribute to achieving the desired quality. Only 10 of these fall under the ETQAs. The roles and responsibilities given to the ETQAs’ are critical in securing the desired quality but so are the remaining 45 that fall to their partners: every part of the “NQF Organisation” contributes to securing and assuring the quality of learning opportunities and qualifications and standards.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

The system will be only as good as the weakest link.

Table 2 reviews the roles that contribute to quality from the most to the least cost effective. Those attributed to the ETQAs are listed in Table 3 in order of declining cost-effectiveness.

Table  3: The Quality Management Roles  of ETQAs within the  “NQF System”

  1. Create and sustain a quality culture.
  2. Contribute to ensuring  the  relevance,  comprehensiveness  and  clarity  of  the  standards  and qualifications.
  3. Confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills.
  4. Confirm that Providers  regularly  monitor  and  report  on  the  effectiveness  of  learning  and qualifications and standards.
  5. Confirm that the Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities.
  6. Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect.
  7. Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their customers’:  SAQA, Providers,  NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies and stakeholders.
  8. Monitor Providers outcomes and internal audit process and report back to Providers, SAQA and

NSBs.

Each of the above divides into a number of activities. These are described in Table 4 and discussed in the text following.

A fundamental role of the ETQA is to assure the quality of the services made available by

Providers. There are three basic processes involved in quality assurance in this context:

  • Accreditation, through which the Provider satisfies the ETQA that it is able and willing to deliver services of the quality required.
  • Monitoring, by the Provider, of the quality achieved and reporting this information to the

ETQA.

  • Auditing, through which the ETQA assures the integrity and accuracy of the submitted reports. This will entail the detailed scrutiny of the reports and visits to the Provider to check their authenticity and accuracy.

Accreditation, monitoring and auditing are likely to be annual events, at least initially. After the first year, re-accreditation will be closely linked to the receipt of reports from the Provider and any audit of the Provider that the ETQA has conducted.

Through the accreditation process the ETQA will want to be assured that:

  • The Provider’s quality aspirations address each of the quality indicators and are both ambitious and yet realistic.
  • The Provider has, or will put in place, systems to collect sufficient, authentic, current, and valid evidence pertaining to the quality achieved.
  • The Provider has or will ensure that all of the resources necessary to meet the quality expectation (including staff competent in learning facilitation and assessment) are or will

be available.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The ETQA and Provider will also agree what information is to be reported by when and how. An ETQA may wish to establish standardised forms to be used by Providers for reporting achievements for each indicator. They will also require information about progress towards establishing and maintaining a quality culture within the Providing organisation, for example the achievement of the Investors in People award or ISO 9000:2000.

The current quality indicators are based on the objectives of the NQF, for both qualifications and programmes, that Providers:

  • Use the standards and integrate theory and practice.
  • Utilise suitable learning and assessment processes for the prescribed learning outcomes.
  • Better enable individual learners to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the country and the individual’s social-political-economic development.
  • Facilitate and enhance access, mobility and progression.
  • Redress previous inequities, particularly making available opportunities for those who could not previously access them.
  • Periodically collect, store and report information describing achievements for each of the other indicators.

Providers are expected to continually monitor their achievements against the goals they have agreed with the ETQA, for each indicator. As noted above, these achievements will be formally reported to the ETQA each year.

The process of auditing is considered in more detail later in this Section. It is suggested that the most recent report by the Provider will be the primary focus for an audit although the ETQA may also wish to review evidence of achievement against the indicators for other reasons; for example in response to SAQA’s current agenda and the needs of the SGBs.

In  conformance  with  their  developmental  role,  ETQAs  will  want  to  ensure  that  a Provider’s goals for assuring and enhancing quality are ambitious, but realistic and adequately address all indicators of quality. The annual accreditation process will probably build on the Provider’s report of achievements. They may entail negotiations through which the ETQA will foster the inculcation of a quality culture within the Providing organisation. The ETQA will

provide feedback on where improvements are necessary or desirable.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Table  4: Activities Associated with the  Quality Management Roles  of ETQAs

  1. To create and sustain a quality culture:
  • ETQAs should continually ask and address the following questions:

“How well are we contributing  to assuring the quality of learning opportunities  and qualifications and standards  within the NQF, through  our auditing, monitoring  and feedback  activities?  How could we do better?”

“What do our customers (SAQA, Providers, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating  bodies and stakeholders) require of us? How can we better ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

  • An ETQA should establish a service contract with each of its customers:  SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies, stakeholders and Providers.
  • An ETQA should define what it requires of each role within its organisation and set standards of performance that link to the customers’ expectations  and needs from its service contracts.
  1. To contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of the standards:
  • An ETQA must establish a working relationship with its Providers such that they (the Providers) are motivated to provide the requisite information in a timely and well argued and ordered fashion.
  • ETQAs will require facilitators of learning and assessment to have in place well considered  and effective mechanisms to regularly collect and review how well their programmes and qualifications and standards meet existing and potential learners’ needs and mechanisms whereby facilitators of learning and assessment or assessors can register apparent inadequacies in the standards.
  • Providers will be required to periodically report information about inadequacies in standards and qualifications and regarding the need for new standards  to the ETQA, as part of their regular feedback activities.
  • ETQAs will need mechanisms to check why standards are not met, when that is the case.
  1. To confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills:
  • Regularly require Providers to make a formal statement confirming that facilitators of learning and assessment and assessors are competent as defined by the relevant SGB.
  • ETQAs will check the authenticity of such statements during audits.
  1. To confirm that Providers regularly monitor and report on the effectiveness of learning and assessment activities:
  • It is envisaged that ETQAs will require (as part of an Accreditation Agreement) Providers to make a clear statement of how quality will be regularly monitored and reported.
  • ETQAs will want to assure themselves of the validity and sufficiency  of both  reports  and the constituent data, and that the process of collecting and analysing the data has been undertaken

diligently and with integrity.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table 4 continued

  1. To confirm that the Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities:
  • Providers should share with the ETQA their quality enhancement achievements and goals. This information would be reviewed and checked by ETQAs for its validity and currency at the time of auditing and monitoring visits.
  1. To confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect:
  • ETQAs should invite Providers  to describe  how  relevant resources  will be made available to learners and candidates.
  • The ETQAs will ensure that the access-to-resources requirements of standards are met at the time of accreditation  and during subsequent audits or monitoring activities.
  1. To regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA, Providers, NSB, SGB and stakeholders:
  • ETQAs will ensure that their reports provide all of the information required by SAQA in a form that is easy to use and interpret accurately.
  • Similarly with regard to periodic feedback to NSBs, the ETQA should check on the usefulness of what is reported and seek advice as to how its value might be enhanced.
  • The requirements of Providers regarding reporting will be described clearly in the Accreditation

Agreement and will be subject to regular review.

  • ETQAs will  provide   regular,  constructive   feedback   to  Providers  regarding  the  utility  and substance of reports received, and help them minimise the work required to produce them.
  1. To monitor Providers  outcomes  and  their  internal  audit  process  and  report  back  to

Providers, SAQA and NSBs:

  • ETQAs may audit Providers for one, or a combination, of reasons. Six reasons are identified on page 29.
  • ETQAs will assure the quality of external exams or tests during the design phase and their completion. Six steps are identified on page 30.
  • ETQAs will  assure  the  quality  assessments  that  are  designed,   delivered  and  evaluated

institutionally. Six steps are identified on page 31.

Where a Provider does not meet the required standards, there is scope for provisional accreditation for up to two years, subject to the Provider implementing a development programme that is agreed with the ETQA, and that addresses the issues of concern. Under these conditions it is incumbent on the ETQA to provide what assistance it can to help the Provider identify priorities for enhancing quality, and suggest what it might need to do.

Where an ETQA considers that the performance of a Provider, or its progress in enhancing performance, is unsatisfactory with respect to any aspect of quality, they would need to consider

if the Provider should no longer be accredited.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

A: Create and sustain a quality culture

A set of questions has been identified, the answers to which should inform the two activities:

‘Enabling and empowering employees to deliver services to or above the standard required’ and ‘Regularly set goals for new and improved services’. Applying them to the ETQA context, the questions can be expressed as follows:

“How well are we contributing  to assuring the quality of learning opportunities and qualifications and standards within the NQF, through our auditing, monitoring and feedback activities? How could we do better?”

“What do our customers (SAQA, Providers, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating  bodies and stakeholders)

require of us? How can we better ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

The answers to these questions should enable an ETQA to regularly set itself new goals that represent better standards of service. The answers should enable an ETQA to identify where performance within its organisational structure could be improved and take steps to secure improvements through enabling and empowering its employees to do better.

The questions are deceptively simple. The challenge is collecting the data that accurately reflects  how well the organisation  is doing  in each  of the activities  associated  with the

remaining quality responsibilities discussed below.

Ideally an ETQA should establish a service contract with each of its customers: SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies, stakeholders and Providers.

A service contract specifies precisely but comprehensively and clearly the services that will be provided, to whom, when and to what standard.

Given that each ETQA will need to establish a service contract with SAQA and with the NSBs, there would be value in a group of ETQAs negotiating a standard contract with SAQA and with a representative group of NSBs/SGBs. SAQA might take the lead, bringing together representative groups to facilitate the drafting of these service agreements. The service contract with SAQA would reflect the overarching responsibility of SAQA and the expectation that it will have to produce regular reports to Ministers and others on progress in implementing the NQF.

It will also reflect the ETQA quality assurance role. Similarly, ETQA relationships with the NSBs/SGBs also reflect quality assurance responsibilities.

Given the diversity of the relationship between each ETQA and its Providers the service contract between ETQAs and Providers is likely to vary somewhat. However, it is likely to deal with most aspects of their quality management relationship.

It may well be that the service contracts identified will cover all stakeholders. On the other hand, the Professional Bodies and SETAs have other accountabilities. They would be well advised to establish service contracts with these other groups to whom they account, to ensure

that all their responsibilities are equally well defined.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

An ETQA should define what it requires of each role within its organisation and set standards of performance that link to the customers’  expectations  and needs from its service contracts.

Dependent on the criticality of tasks associated with these performance standards, performance data might be collected monthly, quarterly or annually, preferably, primarily by those undertaking the activities. Each employee should be encouraged to review performance periodically (for example, quarterly), note and celebrate improvements, and set targets for enhanced performance, including identifying learning needs and how they will be met.

These procedures not only have the capacity to establish a quality culture in the ETQA, but will provide substance for two of the quality management requirements identified in the Regulations: 9 “Maintain a database acceptable to SAQA” and “Submit reports”.

B: Contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of the standards

ETQAs’ prime responsibility in this context is the provision of field intelligence to the NSBs in conformance with quality management “Recommend new standards or qualifications to NSBs, or modifications to existing standards and qualifications”.

An ETQA must establish a working relationship with its Providers such that they (the Providers) are motivated to provide the requisite information in a timely, well argued and ordered fashion.

Where an intermediary is involved, an ETQA must ensure that it establishes a similar relationship with Providers. This is particularly pertinent to the identification of new standards and qualifications and standards that may be needed.

Indeed Providers who have a quality culture are interested in what their learners feel about

the services received.

ETQAs will require facilitators of learning and assessment to have in place:

  • Well-considered  and  effective  mechanisms  to  regularly  collect  and  review  how  well  their programmes and qualifications and standards meet existing and potential learners’ needs.
  • Mechanisms whereby facilitators of learning and assessment can register apparent inadequacies

in the qualifications and standards.

For clients of education and training, the most important characteristics of quality are usually:

  1. Relevance (of what is learned to the purpose of learning).
  2. The learning process (the process enabling the individual to learn).
  3. Accessibility (having in mind the learner’s circumstances).
  4. Currency (having regard to the purpose for learning).

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For qualifications, in addition to relevance and accessibility, reliability and currency are the important characteristics of quality. In addition to information about the relevance and clarity of the standards, learner surveys will collect information about many other facets of their learning and assessment experiences as considered below.

Providers will be required to periodically  report information  about inadequacies  in standards  and regarding the need for new standards, to the ETQA, as part of their regular feedback activities.

The inadequacies registered by facilitators of learning and assessment may relate to their perceptions of learners’ needs and expectations or their own experiences in attempting to use the standards.

In the event that providers are delivering similar qualifications and standards, an issue that may need  to be considered,  regarding  possible  new standards  and qualifications,  is that ETQAs should check such providers to determine if they perceive a similar need. There is no doubt, if such a need is identified by a number of Providers, the development of the requisite standards and qualifications may assume a higher priority. On the other hand, if Providers are in competition, it may be that the matter should be handled in a confidential manner so that

the Provider who has identified the need retains a market advantage.

ETQAs will need mechanisms to check why standards are not met, when that is the case.

In addition to representations from Providers, the need to modify existing standards and qualifications  may  be  noted  from  other  quality  management  activities.  For  example,  a failure to meet the required standards may be the outcome of poorly expressed standards, of standards  that  are  unachievable,  or  standards  and  qualifications  that  are  irrelevant  or otherwise do not motivate learners. This places a premium on ETQAs having mechanisms to investigate why a standard has not been met. Ideally, and in keeping with a quality culture, such investigations would be undertaken with the full collaboration of the Provider and in a way that is constructive rather than punitive.

C: Confirm that providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills

Ensuring that those who facilitate learning and who assess individuals for the purpose of awarding qualifications are competent  (as defined by the SGBs/NSBs or SAQA when relevant) is primarily the responsibility  of the Provider. Confirming that the Provider is meeting its responsibility  is the role of the ETQA.

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It is likely to be confirmed, initially, through the accreditation process: “Accredit Constituent Providers” and subsequently through auditing the Provider: “Monitor provision by Providers”. With respect to summative assessment, it is also a responsibility of ETQAs: “Register constituent assessors for specified standards or qualifications”.

In the past, if the competence of facilitators of learning and assessment was subject to external confirmation, it normally happened prior to the Provider gaining approval to run a specific programme. Additionally, if the problem was significant, Providers may have been required to notify the external body every time there was a change in the people involved and confirm their competence.

It is stated in the NSB Regulations that SGBs must provide criteria for the registration of assessors with regard to specific standards and qualifications. This implies that the criteria

would include skills and knowledge.

Providers will be required to make a formal statement that learning and assessment facilitators are competent,  ETQAs would probably check the authenticity  of such statements during audits.

ETQAs will need to decide, in the light of experience, if this is something that should be confirmed only once, periodically, or routinely. In any event, it is likely that the recommendations or specifications of the SGBs are being observed.

Perhaps more challenging, however, is that the Act foresees different learning outcomes that carry with them a need for different and new learning and assessment strategies. The facilitation  techniques  traditionally  used  to  facilitate  knowledge  transmission  from  the learning providers to learner, and the assessment techniques used to determine to what extent transmission had happened are being increasingly challenged in both this context and others.

There is general recognition that didactic teaching is not very effective at helping individuals  to  acquire  deep  (enduring)  knowledge.  To  secure  deep  knowledge,  learners require opportunities to apply the knowledge in contexts that are relevant to them. To acquire enduring and transferable skills, individuals require regular opportunities to practice them in diverse contexts. The regular provision of informative feedback further enhances learning.

Similarly, traditional tests or quizzes have limitations as assessment tools. At best they test knowledge or the application of basic skills (especially basic skills in reading, writing and numeracy).

At worst they assess the facilitator of learning and assessment’s ability to devise good tests and the learner’s ability to read the mind of the facilitator of learning and assessment. Increasingly there is recognition that if we want to know about an individual’s ability to use skills and knowledge in contexts outside of the classroom, we need different ways of assessing: authentic assessment. There is a steady trend towards assessing performance. This trend should not be taken to imply there is no value in traditional forms of examinations and tests. We just need to be more realistic about what they can and cannot tell us, especially with regard to abilities that need to be used outside of the classroom and examinations hall.

Too many facilitators of learning and assessment lack confidence, experience and knowledge of how to facilitate learning in this way, or how to develop skills, especially problem solving, teamwork and communication skills. A similar problem pertains to assessment. It is probable that

most ETQAs will come across these problems regularly.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

D: Confirm that providers regularly monitor and report on the effectiveness of learning and assessment activities

ETQAs are required to: “Accredit Constituent Providers” and “ Facilitate moderation amongst

Providers”.

For the success of the NQF, Providers must meet the objectives which are ensuring integration and the achievement of learning outcomes through maximising the effectiveness of teaching and assessment, enhanced access, mobility and progression, the personal and national development of the learner and the redress of past inequalities. Providers need to regularly determine how well they are doing in terms of the above objectives, and learners’ satisfaction with the services provided. Indeed they are in the best position to assure the quality of services.

It is envisaged that ETQAs will require (as part of an Accreditation  Agreement) Providers to:

  • Set goals for each objective that represents an improvement on those previously achieved.
  • Make a clear statement of how quality will be regularly monitored and reported with each objective.
  • Report progress against identified goals.

It has already been noted that this will include surveys of learners and that through these surveys, inadequacies in the standards and qualifications will be noted. In addition, it would be desirable for learners to be invited to comment on the following:

  • Initial advice and support when choosing a programme or qualification.
  • Effectiveness of learning opportunities.
  • Apparent validity and fairness of assessments.
  • Adequacy and helpfulness of feedback.
  • Availability of resources.
  • Enhancement of the learner’s personal and national development.
  • Redress of past inequalities.

Providers  should  also  collect  information  from  learners  to  learn  how  well  the  chosen programme or qualification helps the individual achieve her or his goals.

Ideally, a Provider would collect and analyse such information from all learners or from a significant sample. The frequency with which this information is summarised and passed to the ETQA may vary depending on the numbers of learners involved, the diversity of programmes and the qualifications and standards offered by the Provider and the ETQA’s

reporting responsibilities. However, it is likely to be required at least once a year.

ETQAs will  want  to  assure  themselves  of  the  validity  and  sufficiency  of  both  reports  and  the constituent  data, and that the process  of collecting  and analysing the data has been undertaken diligently and with integrity.

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The  submission  of  reports  on  a  regular  basis  would  provide  evidence  of  the  activity. Consistency in data and analysis would suggest diligence and accuracy but spot checks during auditing activities would be desirable.

Hopefully, over a period of a few years, a Provider would demonstrate a commitment to a quality culture and that it values and uses the data collected. Once an ETQA is persuaded of the commitment of the Provider to the effective monitoring of the quality of the services it provides, the focus of auditing must move to analysis rather than the need for the collection of data.

E: Confirm that the providers  ensure that practices  are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities

Collecting and analysing data will not of itself assure or enhance the quality of a Provider’s services. It is the dissemination of that information to facilitators of learning and assessment and its use to plan and secure changes in practice that can lead to improved quality.

Providers should share with the ETQA their quality enhancement achievements and goals for each objective. This information would be reviewed and checked by ETQAs for its validity and currency at the time of auditing and monitoring visits.

ETQAs are required to “Promote quality amongst Providers. It would make most sense if Providers reports were linked to goals identified in previous reports, feedback from the ETQA subsequent to auditing and monitoring activities and the outcomes of learner surveys.

Again, the frequency with which this information is summarised and passed to the ETQAs may vary depending on the number of programmes/qualifications and standards involved, the diversity of programmes and qualifications and standards offered by the Provider and the ETQA’s reporting responsibilities. However, it is likely to be required at least once a year.

F: Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect

Along with C and D above, access to suitable resources is likely to be confirmed initially as part of the accreditation process (1. “Accredit Constituent Providers”).

The  ETQA’s  responsibility   will  be  to  ensure  that  resources  required  for  the  standards   and qualifications are met and there is access to those resources at the time of accreditation  and during subsequent audits or monitoring activities.

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In the past, where it has been the practice to accredit Providers, the availability of resources has been a major consideration, often examined in more detail than the competence of the facilitators of learning and assessment. The situation is changing, however.

Knowledge, technology and systems are advancing quickly, and their application is becoming more diverse and specialised. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Providers to sustain the currency of libraries and equipment. Indeed, in many instances it is just not possible, because financial resources are not available. Often, what are required are, on the one hand, the opportunity to develop basic skills and on the other, real-life learning experiences. The former may indeed require access to workshops and laboratories but the latter is more likely to be provided directly through assignments that draw on real-life.

More than ever before, we are recognising that there are increasingly diverse opportunities to learn, for example through the use of Internet and from daily experiences (that may be identified and created by the Provider).

As with learning facilitation and assessment skills, (C above), it is stated in the NSB

regulations that the SGB should provide guidance on the resources that need to be available with regard to specific standards and qualification.

ETQAs should  invite Providers  to  describe  how  relevant resources  will be made  available to learners at the time of initial accreditation.

It may be that the Provider will not have the specific resources but plans to access them in some way, for example, through work placements. The effectiveness of these arrangements can be monitored in a number of ways such as:

  • The Provider should regularly seek confirmation from learners that adequate resources were available (D above).
  • As part of auditing and monitoring activities undertaken by the ETQA.

G: Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their

‘internal customers’: SAQA, providers, SGB, NSB and stakeholders

ETQAs are required to “Co-operate with Moderating Bodies appointed by SAQA”, “Maintain a  database  acceptable  to  SAQA”,  “Submit  reports”,  “Provide  feedback  to  NSBs”  and “Promote quality amongst Providers”. In each instance, the two-way flow of information is critical to achieving and sustaining high quality standards.

In essence the Moderating Bodies are agents of SAQA. They are charged with ensuring that

ETQAs, who accredit programmes and standards for the same standards, assure that adequately comparable standards are applied across them all.

It is incumbent on ETQAs to ensure that their reports provide all of the information required by SAQA

in a form that is easy to use and interpret accurately.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In addition to feedback received pertaining to the findings of Moderating Bodies, ETQAs will probably receive feedback about the utility and substance of reports submitted to SAQA. If there are inadequacies in the substance of such reports, it may mean that the ETQA will have to re-visit its analysis and interpretation of data collected, review its auditing and monitoring procedures, or revise its service agreement (Accreditation Agreement) with providers.

Similarly with  regard to periodic  feedback  to NSBs and SGBs, the ETQA should  check  on the usefulness of what is reported and seek advice as to how its value might be enhanced.

It is always easy to provide too much information. It is suggested that ETQAs continually seek feedback regarding the relevance and usefulness of the information they provide in order to identify ways in which reporting can be undertaken in a more concise and focused way.

Feedback  from  Moderating  Bodies,  SAQA or NSBs  may  suggest  that  more,  less  or

different information needs to be collected from Providers.

It is incumbent  on the ETQA to provide regular, constructive  feedback  to Providers regarding the utility and substance  of reports received, and help them minimise the work required to produce them.

ETQAs may identify ways in which the reporting of information by Providers might be made more effective and less time consuming for both parties.

It is suggested  that needs and expectations  are described  clearly in the Accreditation  Agreement and that they are the subject of regular review in order to better meet the needs of the ETQA and to reduce the work required of the Providers in their preparation.

The sector stakeholders will vary between ETQAs, where responsibilities go beyond those dictated for the “NFQ Organisation”; it is suggested that they should put in place similar systems to collect feedback from stakeholders.

H: Monitor constituent providers outcomes and internal audit process and report back to constituent providers, SAQA, NSB and SGB

ETQAs are charged with “Promoting quality amongst Providers”, “Monitoring provision by Providers”,  “Evaluating  assessment”,  and  “Taking  responsibility  for  the  certification  of learners”.

As already noted, auditing, in itself, is often one of the least cost-effective methods of managing quality and yet it is the process that often has the highest public visibility and credibility. Auditing, in the education and training context, assumes many different forms

depending on its purpose.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

ETQAs may audit Providers for one, or a combination,  of the following reasons. To collect evidence about:

  • The systems put in place by a Provider to assure the quality of its services.
  • Learning processes, Provider’s competence and resources.
  • Assessment of learning by Providers of learning opportunities.
  • Assessment undertaken by external bodies (examinations and qualification awarding bodies).
  • What has been learned, achieved, or is already known, through assessing the learner.
  • The degree to which access, mobility, progression and redress have been enhanced.

Auditing for the first three purposes has already been considered (see B-G above). Along with initial accreditation, audits for these purposes can be cost efficient. If they are supported by constructive feedback and a quality culture within the Provider organisation they can be very cost effective.

The effectiveness of assessment of learners (whether by the ETQA or intermediaries, such as an examination body, as a quality assurance mechanism, or by the learning Providers) depends on the technical soundness of the assessment. That is, it depends on the validity, sufficiency, currency and authenticity of the evidence collected and the consistency with which evidence is judged.

When assessment is used to contribute to assuring the quality of learning opportunities it provides a measure of how well the learning experience has prepared individuals for the assessment as well as what the learner may know and be able to do.

There is some concern in the assessment community as to how to assess, which is partially stimulated by fundamental questions regarding the purpose of learning. There is a growing acknowledgement that the demonstration of acquired knowledge and skills provides no guarantee of an individual’s ability to apply them in diverse contexts and that the learning of knowledge and skills through their application results in far deeper learning. This and other concerns have stimulated greater interest in assessing the ability to apply knowledge and skills in contexts that approximate real life.

Generally, the quality of assessments has been assured by reference to their content validity,

fairness and reliability (from a psychometric perspective).

Assessments  that  are designed,  delivered  and  evaluated  at  institutional  level,  may  be  quality assured by a selection from the following:

  • The provision of a detailed description of the required learning achievement.
  • Evidence of the competence of the assessor (as an assessor).
  • The provision, by the Providers, of assessment instruments for prior approval.
  • The submission of the evidence of learning generated by the learners (normally after it has been assessed institutionally) for the scrutiny of the qualifications and standards body or its agents.
  • The establishment of an internal quality assurance process within, by the Providers.
  • The regular or periodic scrutiny of the evidence of learning generated by the learners and the quality assurance process operated by the Providers and by a moderator.

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As noted previously, a few systems have made use of a combination of institutionally and externally designed assessments or the institutional application and evaluation of externally designed assessment instruments. Where a combination at institutional level and external assessment has been used, the results might be combined to generate a grade or one might be used to confirm the other.

There is growing interest in assessing performance, especially effective performance, in  work  contexts.  This  may  be  to  recognise  occupational,  professional  competence, especially where the ability to practice an occupation or profession is subject to some form of regulation. Similar assessments of occupational, professional competence have been adopted in countries that are concerned with facilitating mobility in the labour market, with upgrading the skills of the nation’s work force or with quality assuring employment related training. Such assessments have also been adopted in employment sectors where there is a desire to recognise competence, motivate employees to learn or enhance standards of performance. Professional bodies and those concerned with assessing occupational, professional competence are increasingly using a mixture of assessments: knowledge and skill  assessments  are  used  to  complement  assessment  by  Providers  of  education  and training  and  are  followed  by  a  period  of  assessment  on-the-job  before  gaining  full

recognition. This approach is considered in more detail in the next section.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Summary

ETQAs, with SAQA, play a pivotal role within the quality management system of the NQF system. They can foster a quality culture within the NQF system both through creating such a culture within their own organisation and through helping and encouraging Providers to do the same.

However, if they are to foster a quality culture, they will depend on the other parts of the

NQF system (SAQA, NSBs/SGBs and Moderating Bodies) to play their part and will need to help them to do so.

In order to foster a quality culture amongst Providers ETQAs are likely to use a combination  of:

  • Initial accreditation  that  requires  Providers  to  undertake  a range  of  quality  assessment  and assurance activities and to report on the outcomes of these activities.
  • The monitoring activities  that  include  the direct  auditing  of reports,  systems,  processes  and outcomes and the judicious use of technically sound external assessment.
  • The use of technically  sound  assessments  to  confirm  the knowledge  and skills  of  learners, especially where it is to inform high-stakes decisions.
  • Annual reviews that include establishing and agreeing with Providers, new quality goals, taking

into account the previous year’s achievements and the outcomes of monitoring activities.

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Chapter 6:

Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact on their QMS

ETQAs have been identified in two sectors: education and training sub-systems and economic. However, the latter appears to be dividing into two sub-groups industry/commerce sectors and the professional sector. Each of these groups is considered below. The observations are summarised and compared in Table 5.

A: Education and training sub-system ETQAs

Education and training sub-system ETQAs will generally have significantly larger Providers, and many more learners for qualifications and standards than will be the case for ETQAs in the economic sector.

The  purposes  for  learning  that  will  be  served  by Providers  accountable  to

Education and training sub-system ETQAs are likely to fall within the first six purposes identified in appendix 1.

  1. Seek and find fulfillment in life.
  2. Contribute to the  stability  and  growth  of  society  and  the  well  being  of  all  members  of  a community.
  3. Progress in the field of education.
  4. Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.
  5. 5. Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute to the economic  survival and growth of a community  throughout  her/his working
  6. Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.

The nature of the learning outcomes will be such that they lend themselves to assessment through classroom-based assignments (especially purposes 1-3) and (for basic skills) tests. Purposes 4-6 are increasingly likely to require learning and the collection of evidence for assessment, away from the classroom. There will be considerable diversity in learning outcomes, content and the expertise of facilitators of learning and assessment.

If one  drew  a comparison  with  the  industrial  settings  in which  quality  management systems are well established, education is the equivalent of a high-volume business, participation in it is a long-term investment. Because it is not clear exactly how the learner will benefit economically from what is learned or from the qualification gained and because of the high-volume nature of the sector, quality management systems will tend more towards

the lower cost per individual learner than they would in the economic sector.

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

To be cost effective, ETQAs in this sector may need to delegate responsibilities to Providers. They, in turn, may delegate responsibilities within the organisation. Responsibilities may also be delegated to examinations  bodies  for the testing  of basic  knowledge  and skills where required,  or for quality assuring Providers’ assessments of basic skills and knowledge.

The development of a quality culture within Provider’s organisations will be of critical importance. ETQAs in this sector can only audit the achievements of a small sample of learners for qualifications and standards. They will be very dependent on the Providers’ internal quality audit systems and the effectiveness with which Providers establish a quality culture within different parts of the organisation. Indeed, Providers may have to further delegate quality assurance to departments or schools and establish systems to ensure that there is systematic and effective quality assurance through internal reporting and auditing mechanisms, perhaps using an Institutional Research team to collect learner satisfaction information.  The  role  of  Quality  Manager  may  be  given  to  a  senior  member  of  the executive,  or  assumed  by  the  head  of  each  division  within  the  organisation,  reporting directly to the head of the organisation.

Where learning occurs outside of the classroom, the Provider may look to others to contribute to learning and to the collection of evidence of what has been learned. ETQAs will be interested in how the quality of these learning experiences and the evidence collected is

assured by the Provider.

ETQAs may need to phase in initial accreditation  requirements regarding learning and assessment facilitator competence  over an extended period of time.

Because of the nature of what has to be learned, there is a strong argument for facilitators of learning and assessment trained to be effective assessors as well as learning Providers. In particular, a large scale and ongoing investment in helping these learning Providers to be better able to facilitate the development of, and assessment of, skills such a problem solving, team working and oral communication may be required.

ETQAs serving this sector are likely to be large, have specialist expertise in learning and assessment as well as quality assurance and a formal internal quality management system led by a designated quality manager.

Because of the large number of learners (the high volume of the market), one would expect a high level of technical professionalism with regard to learning and assessment amongst the officials of education and training sub-system ETQAs. Further, because the ETQAs in this sector are likely to be relatively large, the establishment of a formal internal quality management system will also be of critical importance. For example, all roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined, the customer (internal or external) for each should be identified and service standards specified comprehensively and in detail. Again, reflecting on the probable size of these ETQAs, there will

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

need to be well established and managed systems for evaluating how the organisation is doing and how individual employees are performing, with methods for celebrating successes and setting goals for future improvements.

It is advisable that education  and training sub-system  ETQAs provide specific models of QMS for their providers.

B: Economic sector ETQAs: Sector Education and Training

Authorities (SETAs)

SETA ETQAs will tend to work with smaller sized Providers and smaller numbers of learners per provider  than will be the case for education  and training  sub-system  ETQAs. The purposes  for learning  that  will  be served  by  their  Providers  are likely to  fall within  the  last  seven purposes identified in Appendix 1.

  1. Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.
  2. Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute to the economic survival and growth of a community throughout her/his working life.
  3. Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.
  4. Gain employment in specific jobs/occupations.
  5. To be recognized as competent in an occupation or job.
  6. Improve performance in specific work roles or tasks.
  7. Learn new skills and knowledge applicable to specific work roles or tasks.

However, reflecting on the wider objectives of the NQF to enhance education and training progression and contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large, many of their Providers will also be concerned with the following learning purposes:

  1. Contribute to the stability and growth of society and the well being of all members of a community
  2. Progress in the field of education and training

ETQAs, and their Providers, in this sector are likely to be relatively small, have sector specialist as well as quality assurance expertise, and an internal quality management system that reflects easier internal communication.

For learning purposes 4-10, much of the learning will take place in the workplace and in other, non-education contexts, partially at least through experiential learning. Workplace learning may be underpinned by learning in workshops and classrooms, but the most important evidence of what has been learned will come from its effective application in real life situations. Providing organisations are likely to be smaller and expertise will be more focused and less

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

diverse than in the case of the education and training sub-system Providers, reflecting their sector-specific remit. They are unlikely to require a separate quality manager.

It will be easier in this sector  to estimate  the added  value of quality  management  systems  and therefore assure and demonstrate their cost-effectiveness.

Because the learning is closely linked to performance in the workplace, the added value to learner and employer can be determined with some degree of certainty, especially for purposes

7-10. Given the ability to determine the potential added value, there will be greater certainty about what would constitute a worthwhile investment.

The link between investment and return is not necessarily as clear for purposes 4-6, which are more concerned with long-term flexibility and adaptability, especially for the learner.

However, given the fact that the learning and assessment is in the context of a particular sector, it should be possible to identify in general terms the potential cost to an employer if employees are not flexible and adaptable in the future. Similarly, the learner will have a reasonable sense of how the acquisition of these skills will enhance current employability and

future promotability and thus the scale of the potential economic return.

Where Providers are associated with employment sectors that are seeking to install quality management systems it is unlikely they will experience a great deal of difficulty  in doing likewise. The ETQA will want to ensure compatibility  with the requirements of the NFQ system.

Increasingly, Providers in this sector may be part of, or associated with, organisations that have or are seeking to establish a quality culture and quality management system. As long as these are based on a sound understanding of the purpose for establishing a quality culture and for managing quality, and the organisations are fully conscious of the expectations of ETQAs, it is likely that such Providers will find little difficulty in putting in place relevant systems. It may be a case of the ETQA negotiating to ensure that its needs are met uniformly across the sector (to help it in its role and especially to meet the needs of SAQA and the NSB/SGB), rather than having to provide direction and guidance on good practice.

Where Providers are not associated with a sector that has embraced a quality management system, they are likely to see value in developing and implementing such a system as a role model for the sector (and to build up their ability to provide other services for the sector). SETAs in particular will be able to make use of this motivation. Given the relatively smaller size of Providers and the fact that the focus is narrower than in the education and training sub-system, many aspects of quality management will be easier. For example, designing and operating an effective internal quality management system, developing an internal quality culture, collecting feedback from all learners, and providing effective, constructive and timely feedback to learning

and assessment facilitators should all be easier than in the education and training sub-system.

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It is likely that much of the learning and assessment will take place in the workplace in this sector. ETQA quality assurance systems will need to take this into account.

Reflecting on the nature of the learning outcomes associated with purposes 6-10, it is likely that much of the learning and evidence of effective learning will happen in the workplace. Supervisors and line managers can and should play a role in coaching and assessing performance. Indeed if they can’t, how can they be effective supervisors? In some ways, learning and assessment in the workplace are easier to achieve for these purposes than they would be in education settings. As long as there are clear standards for the products or services generated in the workplace, a learner can see the direct outcome of inadequate performance. (This is a critical contributor to reflective learning, which is the most efficient learning). A coach/assessor has a clear and easily recognized outcome against which to judge performance. It is often easier and less expensive to train workplace supervisors as assessors, and there can be spin-off benefits for the employer, not least through the improved performance of the supervisor.

However, workplace supervisors normally have a wide range of other duties that contribute to business success. Putting the initial responsibility for the collection and assessment of evidence on the shoulders of the learner can reduce the demands on the supervisor. Techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning are used. The supervisor verifies the authenticity and currency of the evidence and external assessors review the evidence for validity and sufficiency. This approach has an added advantage, as the learner is not required to fit in with some external

timetable, or attend some external assessment point.

Not  all ETQAs will  benefit  from  economies  of  scale.  Some  will  have primarily  small  Providers dispersed across the nation. Quality assurance systems will have to take this into account.

On the other hand, there are less likely to be economies of scale. Geography and the relatively small numbers of learners often means that it will not be cost-effective to pay monitoring and auditing visits to each Provider, each year. Auditing and monitoring is likely to place more emphasis on the submission of evaluations by all learners as well as on the reports issued by the Providers. A cyclical programme of visits to Providers is likely to be supplemented by visits to those where the reports submitted, or the evidence and evaluations submitted by learners, cause concern.

It will be desirable to assess underpinning knowledge and understanding especially where:

  • There is a larger knowledge base that underpins performance.
  • The outcomes of effective (or ineffective) performance are not easily attributable to the learner.
  • Solutions to problems have to be found where not all information is available.
  • The best solution today may not be the best solution tomorrow.

Ideally this would entail the use of problem-solving assignments and projects. An examinations body might undertake the setting and assessment of such assignments, if it has the necessary expertise. On the other hand, a sector may look to an education and training sub-

40                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

6

Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

system Provider to help meet this learning and assessment need, albeit perhaps at a distance. When an education and training sub-system Provider is used, an economic sector ETQA might co-operate with an education and training sub-system ETQA.

Providers  and  ETQAs  in  this  sector  may  form  partnerships   with  or  delegate  to,  colleague organisations in the education and training sub-system responsibilities relating to broader-based learning outcomes

Similarly, an economic sector Provider might look to an education and training sub-system Provider to meet the learning and assessment needs associated with purposes 2 and 3. The provision of basic skills development, for example, is often only economically feasible in larger businesses or in a location where a number of smaller businesses are willing and able to work together. To quality assure learning and assessment for these purposes, an economic sector ETQA might encourage economic Providers to form alliances with local Education and training sub-system Providers.

Alternatively an economic sector ETQA might form a partnership with, and in essence sub- contract the quality assurance to, an education and training sub-system ETQA. The effectiveness of such an arrangement would depend largely on the ability of the education and training sub- system ETQA body to concentrate on the desired outcomes, to value the diversity in context and not to prejudge the inputs and processes. If this proves to be too difficult, there may be potential for the economic sector ETQAs (especially the SETAs) to form a partnership with each other for

the purpose of quality assuring these broader learning outcomes.

ETQAs in this sector may reflect quality management systems in their industry or, in their absence, provide role models.

C: Economic sector ETQAs: Professional bodies

The following are in addition to the considerations identified above for SETAs.

ETQAs in this sector have wider, legislated responsibilities associated with protecting the public that will influence practice.

Professional bodies have wider responsibilities than just those pertaining to being an ETQA. Frequently these are delineated in Acts or Regulations. Normally, such bodies exist because the members of the public are not easily or immediately able to judge the quality of service provided by practitioners. For this reason, practitioners are required to demonstrate their competence before being able to practice. Given the specialised nature of these occupations, often it is only senior practitioners who are able to evaluate occupational competence and or issue a license to practice.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                         41

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In some ways, the existence of such bodies goes against the goals of the NQF. Specifically, they inhibit access to employment in particular occupations if their requirements have not been met. On the other hand, protection of the public is a higher good and so their role and responsibilities are warranted. But, there is often a suspicion that these responsibilities are used to control access and competition within the profession rather than for the protection of the public. Further, around the world, Professional bodies are being challenged to more effectively assure the continuing competence of practitioners.

Frequently the learning necessary to become competent,  and the evidence of it, entails multiple

Providers. It may also entail significant emphasis on self-directed  learning and assessment.

Frequently,  the  learning  required  to  become  an  effective  practitioner  in  a profession  is acquired through a variety of Providers. The nature of professional activities requires that individuals  have a sound  foundation  of knowledge  and well-developed  critical  thinking skills. This is necessary so that they can practice effectively under conditions where there is often uncertainty and ambiguity, where the problems frequently have unique characteristics and the best solution requires the careful balancing of alternatives each of which may have risks associated with it.

Most professional bodies depend on academic achievement to demonstrate these qualities. However, as the value of learning in other settings has increasingly been recognised and valued, professional bodies have begun to recognise ways in which this knowledge and these skills can be acquired and demonstrated outside of higher education. While the knowledge and skills developed in academia may be valuable in the practice of a profession, many professional bodies have concluded that, often, what is learned is insufficient for professional practice. Indeed, some of those who excel in academia lack fundamental skills such as the ability to communicate, empathize with and advise clients. Further, often the knowledge base developed in academia reflects a desire to push back the boundaries of understanding rather than instill that, which has to be used on a day-to-day basis in the practice of the profession. Increasingly, professional bodies are requiring potential applicants to have practicums or placements in order to develop these skills. There may be a requirement that this additional

knowledge and these additional skills be assessed during the practicum/ placement.

However, professional bodies often assess ownership of the practical knowledge base and intellectual skills through standardised assessments. Where there are critical technical and client interaction skills, these may be assessed through standardised skill application simulations.

Increasingly, however, professional bodies are concluding that the combination of evidence from these different sources is still inadequate. Many professional bodies have established, or are establishing an introductory grade of membership (for example, licentiateship) through which individuals can practice only under the supervision of a senior practitioner. Passage to full membership depends on the judgement of the senior practitioner. Steps are being taken to make assessment, and the auditing of assessment, by senior practitioners more valid and reliable.

The development and assessment of licentiates is in some way being aided by the growing concern  regarding  the  continuing  competence  of  practitioners.  There  is  a  trend  towards

Professional Bodies requiring practitioners to demonstrate continuing competence annually or

42                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

6

Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

at a frequency of between 2 to 5 years. Assuming a working life in a profession of about 30 years, in any year the number of people having to demonstrate continuing competence is between six and thirty times the number of new entrants. This is leading to the development of more effective strategies for assessing competence and effective performance in the work place and an increased emphasis on the individual’s responsibility for her or his own learning. These trends can only help enhance the effectiveness of initial assessment for new practitioners.

The development  of enhanced systems for assuring the continued  competence  of practitioners  is also enhancing the quality culture within professions.

However, the growing emphasis on assuring continued competence is unlikely to diminish the need for the professional body to assure the knowledge and skills base of the new entrant. A practitioner can cause much harm even when working under supervision. As ETQAs, the professional body, then, may need to assure the quality of learning and assessment in education, by the use of examination bodies that may be in-house or agents of the professional body, in the workplace and by the individual learner.

Providers vary from large educational institutions, through specialised testing bodies, through those who facilitate learning and assessment at a distance, to very small organisations and individual learners dispersed across the nation. As in the past, the most effective way of assuring quality in the education component is by ensuring that the standards meet the need, and to depend on the quality management systems that are put in place across education. A challenge is that the education programme may have a variety of purposes not limited to the preparation  of  professional  practitioners.  Progress  in  education  and  the  development  of research workers and content specialists are just three alternatives purposes. As a key stakeholder, membership of the relevant NSB/SGB would seem to be essential to ensure the relevance of the standards.

With  regard  to  the  assessment  of  practitioner  knowledge  and  skills,  the  technical soundness of examinations and tests are pertinent.

As to assessment in the work context, the emergence of the need to continually assure competence will provide new opportunities to better assure quality. It has been observed that one of the characteristics of a professional is that she or he continually monitors her or his performance and developments in knowledge, technology, systems and processes, identifies her or his learning needs and ensures that they are met. In defining the competence of practitioners, some bodies suggest that the ability to assess and coach colleagues is also a

requirement. Clearly, this would also facilitate learning and assessment in the work context.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                         43

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

As an ETQA, these bodies have to consider that the practitioner  is often the facilitator  of learning and assessment. Quality management systems in this case tend to utilise self-assessment,  based on the techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning.

The practitioner is challenged to provide local verification wherever possible. Further verification and the collection of supplementary evidence are carried out through the oral testing of the practitioner (often over the phone). During each period, a specific proportion of practitioners is audited in rotation, plus those practitioners for whom there are doubts about the authenticity, currency or sufficiency of the evidence submitted.

ETQAs in this group are charged by legislation to define competence and what constitutes  a quality service. They are required to ensure a quality culture within the profession.

Summary

ETQAs in the two sectors, education and training sub-system and economic sector have to deal with Providers of different size and culture who have different, wider, purposes. While the fundamentals of a quality management system for ETQAs are relevant to each, the emphasis within the systems operated by the different sectors and the mechanisms adopted will vary. The outcomes, however, should be the same; the development of a quality culture that benefits

learners and society as described by the objectives of the NQF.

Table  5: Some Differences between ETQAs from the two  identified Sectors that  will  influence their Quality

Management Systems

Economic Sector

Education and Training Sub- System Sector ETQAs will frequently:

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) & Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs will frequently:

Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs additionally will frequently:

Often Providers are significantly larger and have many more learners for qualifications than will be the case for ETQAs in the economic sector.

Tend to work with smaller providers and smaller numbers of learners than will be the case for education and training sub- system ETQAs. But some may have relatively large providers.

Work with multiple Providers and look for significant emphasis on self-directed learning and assessment.

In the main, assure learning and qualifications associated with broader-based outcomes

Assure learning and qualifications associated with an industrial or commercial sector and work performance

Assure learning and qualifications and standards associated with a single or closely related occupation(s).

44                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

6

Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

Table 5 continued

Economic Sector

Education and Training Sub- System Sector ETQAs will frequently:

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) & Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs will frequently:

Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs additionally will frequently:

Need to delegate responsibilities to Providers to be cost effective. Providers, in turn, may delegate responsibilities within the organisation. Responsibilities may also be delegated to examinations bodies for the testing of basic knowledge and skills where required, or for quality assuring Providers’ assessments of basic skills and knowledge. But Provider and ETQA remain accountable

Where Providers are associated with employment sectors that are seeking to establish quality management systems, will be unlikely to experience a great deal of difficulty in doing likewise. However, the ETQA will want to ensure compatibility with the requirements of the NFQ system.

Not likely to benefit from economies of scale. Some will have primarily small Providers dispersed across the nation. Quality assurance systems will have to take this into account.

Have to take into account that, the practitioner is often the facilitator of learning and assessment. Quality management systems in this case will tend to utilise self- assessment based on the techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning.

Need to phase in initial accreditation requirements regarding learning and assessment facilitator competence over an extended period of time.

Need to take into account

that much of the learning and assessment will take place in the workplace in this sector.

Have wider, legislated responsibilities, associated with protecting the public that will influence practice.

Be relatively large, have specialist expertise in learning and assessment as well as quality assurance and a formal internal quality management system led by a designated quality manager.

Be relatively small, have sector specialist as well as quality assurance expertise, and an internal quality management system that reflects easier internal communication.

Form partnerships with or delegate to, colleague organisations in the education and training sub-system, quality assurance relating to broader- based learning outcomes.

Find it easier to estimate the added-vale of quality management systems and therefore assure and demonstrate their cost- effectiveness.

Benefit from, and need to take into account that enhanced systems for assuring the continued competence of practitioners will also enhance the quality culture within professions.

Model quality management systems for their Providers.

Where QMS is already embedded in sector, reflect quality management systems in their industry. Others will provide a lead

Be charged by legislation to define competence and what constitutes a quality service. They are required to ensure a quality culture within the profession.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                         45

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Appendix 1

The Purposes for Learning

The most important characteristics of quality are usually:

  • relevance (of what is learned to the purpose of learning);
  • the learning process (the process enabling the individual to learn);
  • accessibility (having in mind the learner’s circumstances); and
  • currency (having regard for the purpose for learning).

For qualifications and standards, in addition to relevance and accessibility, reliability and currency are the important characteristics of quality.

Relevance, or the purpose for learning, pertains to client needs and expectations. A product or service that does not meet these needs or expectations is not relevant; it is of inferior quality. So assuring relevance is an important step in assuring quality. In the context of education and training, there are two important questions that have to be addressed regarding clients’ needs and expectations:

  • Why is the learner willing to invest time (and possibly money) in a particular education or training activity?
  • Why is the sponsor(s) willing to make the investment in the learners’ learning?

The answers to these questions define or inform the definition of ‘relevance’. There are many reasons for learning. Table 6 lists the primary ones.

Table  6: Primary Reasons  for  Learning

1      Seek and find fulfillment in life.

2      Contribute  to  the stability  and growth  of society  and the well being  of all members  of a community.

3      Progress in the field of education.

4      Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.

5      Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute  to the economic survival and growth of a community  throughout  her/his working life.

6      Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.

7      Gain employment in specific jobs/occupations.

8      To be recognized as competent  in an occupation  or job.

9      Improve performance in specific work roles or tasks.

10    Learn new skills and knowledge applicable to specific work roles or tasks.

In the context of the NQF, the NSB regulations state that the SGB defines the learning outcomes, but the learner should be able to select the packages of learning outcomes that serve her or his purpose for learning, perhaps with the advice of the Providers.

46                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Definition of terms

Assessment       means the process of collecting evidence of learners’ work to measure and make judgements about the achievement or non-achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications

Assessor            means the person who is registered by the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance Body in accordance with the criteria established for this purpose by a Standard Generating Body to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications, and “constituent assessor” has a corresponding meaning

Audit                   means the process undertaken to measure the quality of products or services that have already been made or delivered

Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies means a body in terms of section

5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act, responsible  for monitoring  and auditing achievements  in terms  of national  standards  or qualifications,  and to which  specific  functions  relating  to  the  monitoring  and  auditing  of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5(1)(b)(i) of the SAQA Act

External customer/s means an external person, body or structure that is a beneficiary to the services or product of a particular organisation

Facilitator of learning and assessment means an individual who facilitates learning processes and activities and manages and administers assessment, educator, teacher, trainer, mentor etc

Internal customer/s  means an internal person, body or structure that is a beneficiary of the services and/or products of a particular organisation

Moderator           means a person, body or organisation that ensures that the assessment of the outcomes described in National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications is fair, valid and reliable

Moderation         means the process which ensures that assessment of the outcomes described in the National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications is fair, valid and reliable and “Verification” has a corresponding meaning

Moderating Body  means a body specifically appointed by the Authority for the purpose of moderation, across ETQAs

National Standard Body   means a body registered in terms of section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the registration of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5(1)(b)(I) of the SAQA Act

Professional Body  means a statutory body registered as such in terms of the legislation applicable to such bodies, or voluntary body performing the functions contemplated in the legislation for such bodies but not registered as such

Provider              means a body which delivers learning programmes  which culminate in specified   National   Qualifications   Framework   standards   and   /   or

qualifications, and manages the assessment thereof

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                         47

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Service Contract  means contractual working agreement, between an ETQA and its customers and/or agencies

Standard Generating Body    means a body registered in terms of section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act, responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the establishing of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section

5(1)(b)(i) of SAQA the Act

Bibliography

  1. Huba M.E. & Freed J.E. (2000), Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses. Needham

Heights, MA, Allyn and Bacon

  1. Swanson D.B, Norman G.R. & Linn R.L. (1995), Performance-based Assessment: Lesson from the

Health and Professions, Educational Researcher, 24 (5), 5-11

  1. Simosko S. & Cook C. (1996), Applying APL principles in Flexible Assessment, (pages 99-103) London, Kogan Page
  1. Schimberg B. (1980), Occupational Licensing: A Public Perspective, Princeton USA, Center for

Occupational and Professional Assessment, Educational Testing Services

  1. Kantner R. (1994), The ISO 9000 Answer Book, (page 11), Essex Junction, VT, Oliver Wright

Publications

  1. Foster A. (1990), Explaining Quality Systems, London, Training Tomorrow (page 38), MBC University

Press Ltd

  1. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award c/o American Society for Quality, P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
  1. Waller J, Allen D. & Burns A. (1993), The Quality Management Manual, How to Write and Develop a

Successful Manual for Quality Management Systems” (page 141), London, UK, Kogan Page Ltd

  1. Walkin L. (1992), Putting Quality into Practice, Cheltenham, England, Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd

48                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Funded by the European Union under the European

Programme for Reconstruction and Development

South African Qualifications Authority

Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06, Waterkloof, Pretoria, 0145

Tel: 012-482 0800  Fax: 012-346 5812/3

Certification of learners by accredited Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies

Certification of learners by accredited Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies

Download a copy of this policy from SAQA here:
http://saqa.org.za/show.php?id=5413

A number of ETQAs have indicated that they are ready to issue learners with certificates and have requested guidance from SAQA in this regard.

SAQA would like to issue the following recommendations with regard to the matter:

  • The SAQA logo can be included on the certificate/s.
  • The certificate/s must include an acknowledgement that the qualification is registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The NLRD registration number of the standard/s or qualification should appear on the certificate, where appropriate. The full name of the standard/s or qualification, as registered on the NLRD, must appear on the certificate.
  • The format/s of the certificate/s that ETQAs wish to use themselves or that which they wish to delegate for use by providers, must be submitted to the SAQA office for approval. The reproduction of the SAQA logo will receive specific consideration.
  • The ETQA will carry the cost for the printing of the certificates.

In terms of accreditation of an ETQA, it is necessary for the ETQA to have:

  1. Strategies to prevent the issue of fraudulent certificates.
  2. A database acceptable to SAQA in which individual learner records are kept.

Conditions for the use of the SAQA logo

  • The Education and Training Quality Assurance Body must be fully accredited
  • The qualification indicated on the certificate must be a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The ETQA that has been granted permission to use the logo for certificate purposes will not provide the SAQA logo to any other party for any other purpose without the written permission of SAQA.

 

SAQA: General Education and Training Certificate (GETC)

Download a copy of this policy from the SAQA website:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/getc.pdf

General Education and Training Certificate (GETC)

The primary purpose of the GETC is to equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills that will enable or enhance meaningful participation in society, contribute towards developing sustainable communities, provide a basis for learning in further education and training, and establish a firm foundation for the assumption of a productive and responsible

role in the workplace.

POLICY DOCUMENT

Write to us at

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WATERKLOOF, 0145

Visit us at

659 Pienaar Street (cnr. Waterkloof Road) BROOKLYN, Pretoria

Telephone us at

012 – 482 0800     Switchboard

012 – 482 0802     Executive Office

012 – 482 0836     Resource Centre and general information

012 – 482 0810     Strategic Support

012 – 482 0810     Communications

012 – 482 0807     Standards Setting and Development

012 – 482 0805     Quality Assurance and Development

012 – 482 0858     Evaluation of Educational Qualifications

Fax us at

012 – 346 5813     Executive Office

012 – 482 0953

012 – 346 5809     Secretariat

012 – 482 0966

012 – 346 5809     Communications

012 – 482 0957

012 – 346 5809     Information Technology

012 – 482 0957

012 – 482 0907     Standards Setting and Development

012 – 482 0992

012 – 482 0991

012 – 482 0817     Quality Assurance and Development

012 – 482 0905

012 – 482 0895     Evaluation of Educational Qualifications

012 – 460 2131     Resource Centre

012 – 482 0891

e-mail us at

Visit our website at

http://www.saqa.org.za

Date of publication: October 2001

ISBN: 0-620-28289-4

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

CONTENTS

Executive summary                                                                             3

  1. Introduction 5
  1. Background to establishing the purpose, guiding principles

and criteria for the GETC                                                               5

  1. Specific design challenges at the GETC level                                9
  1. Requirements of the General Education and Training Certificate   9
  1. Issues of implementation                                                             25
  1. Conclusion                                                                                  27

Members of the GETC Stakeholder Forum                                   28

References                                                                                   29

Glossary                                                                                       30

Acronyms                                                                                     32

SAQA’s Mission

To ensure the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework which contributes to the full development of each learner and to the social and economic development of the nation at large.

G E N E R A L   E D U C A T I O N   A N D   T R A I N I N G   C E R T I F I C A T E                                 G E T C

Executive summary

Requirements

  1. Each full qualification registered at level 1 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) will be called a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) and will conform to the broad require- ments recommended in this document.
  2. 2. Each GETC will provide access to various learning pathways, both ver- tical and horizontal, in terms of the purpose of the qualification. The scope of access provided by each GETC will be determined by the quali- fication
  3. The primary purpose of the GETC is to equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills that will enable or enhance meaningful participa- tion in society, contribute towards developing sustainable communities, provide a basis for learning in further education and training, and esta- blish a firm foundation for the assumption of a productive and respon- sible role in the workplace.
  4. A minimum of 120 credits is required for the GETC, of which at least

72 must be at NQF level 1.

  1. The 20 compulsory credits in language and communication must be obtained at NQF level 1 in one of the 11 official South African lang- uages (Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, or isiZulu) or in one of the languages promoted by the Pan South African Language Board (the Khoi, Nama, and San languages, and sign language) in terms of the South African Constitution (Chapter 1, Section 6; RSA, 1996).
  2. A further 20 credits in language and communication may be obtained in an additional official language enshrined in the South African Constitution (RSA, 1996) or in one of the languages promoted by the Pan South African Language Board (the Khoi, Nama, and San lang- uages, and sign language) in terms of the South African Constitution.
  3. The 16 credits from the organisational field of mathematics and mathe- matical literacy must be obtained at NQF level 1.
  4. The principle is accepted that proposers of a certain qualification can designate specific areas of study or credits as compulsory within that qualification, in addition to the fundamentals and in compliance with other GETC requirements and regulations as established by SAQA.
  5. Proposers of qualifications must liaise with the Education and Training Quality Assurance bodies (ETQAs) which quality assure the learning programmes leading to the awarding of the GETC on the requirements for ensuring coherence of those qualifications.
  6. A registered GETC can be a unit standards-based or non-unit standards- based qualification, in accordance with the requirements of the National Standards Bodies (NSB) regulations (8[4]). Unit and non-unit stan- dards-based GETCs should articulate on the basis of their exit-level out- comes.
  7. 1 Learners not meeting the requirements to be awarded the GETC must receive a statement of achievement, reflecting the credits obtained or outcomes achieved.

A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority                                         3

GETC           G E N E R A L   E D U C A T I O N   A N D   T R A I N I N G   C E R T I F I C A T E

  1. Providers and ETQAs should engage with each other, with stakeholders in their sectors, and with SAQA on how best to maintain the integrity of the GETC beyond the requirement that the purpose of the qualification be achieved through appropriate incorporation of integrated assessment.
  2. ETQAs and providers of learning programmes leading to the achieve- ment of the GETC should collaborate in formulating policies and devi- sing criteria that allow learners to achieve whole or part qualifications

through the recognition of prior learning.

4                                         A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

G E N E R A L   E D U C A T I O N   A N D   T R A I N I N G   C E R T I F I C A T E                                 G E T C

  1. Introduction
T

he need for a document that provides a framework within which constructors of qualifications can design a GETC is indicated by:

  • Broad stakeholder demand for guidance in the development of the

GETC;

  • The difficulties which NSBs and Standards Generating Bodies

(SGBs) have experienced in conceptualising the qualification; and

  • The requirement for the registration of a coherent GETC on the

NQF.

This policy document outlines the context within which the GETC is located and discusses some of the difficulties associated with the design of the GETC. It addresses particular issues, which construc- tors of the GETC need to take into account, namely:

  • The purpose of the GETC;
  • Rules of combination;
  • The articulation of the GETC;
  • Progression and credit accumulation;
  • Integrated assessment; and
  • Recognition of prior learning (RPL).

The document outlines a number of requirements in addressing these issues. The final section highlights some of the issues that need to be taken into account during implementation of the requirements con- tained in section 4.

  1. Background to establishing the purpose, guiding principles  and criteria  for the GETC

2.1  The legal responsibility of SAQA as per the SAQA Act

(Act No. 58 of 1995) (RSA, 1995)

The functions of the Authority as per the SAQA Act, No. 58 of 1995, are as follows:

The Authority shall:

  • Oversee the development of the NQF;
  • Formulate and publish policies and criteria for:

– The registration of bodies responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications;

– The  accreditation  of  bodies  responsible  for  monitoring  and auditing achievements in terms of such standards or qualifica- tions;

  • Oversee the implementation of the NQF including;

– Registration or accreditation of bodies referred to above and the assignment of functions to them;

In accordance with the Act and the regulations, SAQA, through the NSB- SGB structures, is responsible for the registration of qualifications.

A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority                                         5

GETC           G E N E R A L   E D U C A T I O N   A N D   T R A I N I N G   C E R T I F I C A T E

– The registration of national standards and qualifications;

– Steps to ensure compliance with provisions for accreditation;

and

– Steps to ensure that registered standards and qualifications are internationally comparable.

2.2  The Regulations for National Standards Bodies (NSBs) (RSA, 1998a) and for Education  and Training  Quality Assurance  Bodies  (ETQAs) (RSA, 1998b)

Among the functions of NSBs as listed in the regulations are that they:

  • Ensure that the work of SGBs meets the requirements for the regis- tration of standards and qualifications as determined by the Authority;
  • Recommend the registration  of  standards  on  the  NQF  to  the

Authority;

  • Recommend the registration of qualifications to the Authority;
  • Update and review qualifications; and
  • Liaise with ETQAs regarding the procedures for recommending new standards and qualifications, or amending registered stan- dards and qualifications.

Among the functions of ETQAs as listed in the regulations are that they:

  • Recommend new standards and qualifications to NSBs for con- sideration; or
  • Recommend modifications to existing standards or qualifications

to NSBs for consideration.

In the case of the GETC, there is likely to be a range of recommendations for such qualifications which cut across all NSBs and SGBs and

which attempt to fulfil a variety of needs within the education and training sector at these levels.

In accordance with the Act and the regulations, SAQA, through the NSB-SGB structures, is responsible for the registration of qualifica- tions. Furthermore the NSBs have the function of liaising with ETQAs regarding the procedures for recommending new standards and qualifications, or amending registered standards and qualifica- tions. ETQAs are responsible for assuring the quality of these quali- fications. Through liaison with the NSBs they have a direct role to play in recommending new standards and qualifications as well as modifications to existing standards and qualifications to NSBs for consideration. The ETQA structures are not legally in a position to assume responsibility for recommending standards and qualifications to SAQA, as this is clearly the responsibility of the NSB-SGB struc- tures.

2.3  The generalist qualifications

In the case of the GETC, there is likely to be a range of recommen- dations for such qualifications which cut across all NSBs and SGBs and which attempt to fulfil a variety of needs within the education and training sector at these levels. Provision includes formal schooling, Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET), out-of-school youth

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and the learners within learnerships and skills programmes of the

Department of Labour.

The NSB regulations provide general guidelines in respect of the structure of such qualifications. However, discussions conducted at the NSB level, indicated that further guidance and clarity was nee- ded.

In accordance with the regulations, NSBs are responsible for re- commending standards and qualifications to the Authority. However, as mentioned above, these qualifications cut across all NSB fields and across a variety of contexts of education provision. Since NSBs and SGBs in particular, are regarded as having sectoral interests, it has been suggested that they are inappropriate structures to make such recommendations. In view of the fact that SAQA has the responsibi- lity of developing the NQF, it is appropriate that SAQA oversees the development of the minimum requirements and guiding principles for

these generalist qualifications.

2.4  A discussion forum for the development of the purpose, guiding principles and guidelines for the GETC

If the NSB-SGB structures are deemed inappropriate for determining the parameters for the generalist qualifications, it is advisable that SAQA convene a forum to establish the basic principles and mini- mum requirements for the GETC and recommend these to the Authority for approval. Alternatively it should recommend a process whereby these principles and requirements can be established. Once approved at Authority level, NSBs will have to ensure that the stan- dards and qualifications at this level, which they recommend for registration, meet the requirements of the Authority.

Before the forum recommends the basic principles and minimum requirements to the Authority for final approval, there will need to be an engagement with all stakeholders, including the Inter-NSB Forum, and a public comment process.

2.5  The GETC Forum

An FETC/GETC forum was established and met on 12 May 2000. The original intention was that the forum would address both the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) and the GETC. This was not possible, resulting in the forum continuing with its work, but focusing on the FETC. The Authority adopted a FETC policy document in April 2001 after an extensive public comment process.

At the SAQA meeting of 16 August 2000 it was decided that a similar process should be followed to formulate a policy document for the GETC.

The following process was therefore recommended and followed:

  • The framework for submissions was established at a meeting held on 18 September 2000. Issues pertaining to the GETC that needed to be addressed in a policy document were discussed.

As SAQA has the responsibility of developing the NQF, it is appropriate that SAQA oversees the development of the minimum requirements and guiding principles for generalist qualifications.

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  • These discussions were synthesised into a document produced by SAQA staff. The document was e-mailed to all members of the forum before being distributed for comment. Once the comments were incorporated, the document was ready for distribution by 4

October 2000.

  • SAQA then called for submissions from major stakeholders. The closing date for initial submissions was 31 October 2000.
  • These submissions were considered in drafting a discussion docu- ment for tabling to the GETC Forum, which met on 20 November

2000.

  • A discussion document was submitted to the SAQA meeting held on 6 December 2000. The document was accepted by SAQA as a basis for the  wide  consultation  process.  The  public  comment phase was extended beyond the initial deadline of 15 March 2001 to allow for further input into the process.
  • After this extended public comment phase the stakeholder forum met again on 19 July 2001 to discuss public comment received and to reach consensus on the changes made to the final document presented to the SAQA Executive Committee on 25 July 2001.
  • It was envisaged  that  the  GETC  policy  document  would  be

finalised at the SAQA meeting of 15 August 2001.

While SAQA is primarily concerned that the achievement of a qualification constitutes a statement of competence in a particular field, it cannot ignore the dimension of sectoral

difference in the design of qualifications, particularly where two such sectors are differentiated on the basis of age.

2.6  Submissions to the GETC

The following submissions to the GETC received at the SAQA Office by 31 October 2000 – including submissions that were not in response to the Document for Submissions: GETC distributed in the wake of the 18 September 2000 meeting of the GETC Forum but which had been received at the SAQA Office prior to that date – have been taken into account in compiling their policy document:

  • Department of Education:  “Proposal  to  HEDCOM  on:  The

General  Education  and  Training  Certificate”  (received  18

September 2000) (Department of Education, 2000b);

  • Interim ABET Advisory Board (IAAB):  “GETC  Proposal  for

ABET” (received 31 May 2000) (IAAB, 1999);

  • IAAB: “GETC Discussion:  Comments  from  the  IAAB,  31

October 2000” (received 31 October 2000) (IAAB, 2000); and

  • SAFCERT: Submission on SAQA’s “Document for Submissions: GETC” (31 October 2000).

2.7  Public comment on the GETC discussion document

Comments on the GETC discussion document were received from a wide range of stakeholders. These included the university sector, COSATU, the Chamber of Mines, Department of Education (from national and provincial departments), Department of Labour, the organised teaching profession, SAFCERT and individuals.

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  1. Specific design challenges at the GETC

level

The challenges facing the designers of a framework for the GETC are a function of the complexity of cross-cutting factors that need to be taken into account. The three-dimensional matrix comprises:

  • An age continuum (from children to adult learners);
  • A site-of-learning differentiation (from classroom to factory floor to workplace learning centre to community centre); and
  • A time-of-learning dichotomy (daylight-based versus night-based learning).

Furthermore the approach and the nature of the learning programmes will differ substantially from group to group. This has raised the ques- tion as to what the term “general” means when referring to a qualifi- cation at NQF level 1: “general” in the context of children is quite dif- ferent from “general” in the context of adults, for example.

While SAQA is primarily concerned that the achievement of a qualification constitutes a statement of competence in a particular field, it cannot ignore the dimension of sectoral difference in the design of qualifications, particularly where two such sectors are dif- ferentiated on the basis of age (children versus adults). Learning to count as a child in a schooling environment, for example, is very dif- ferent from learning to count as an adult in an ABET environment. Since competence is achieved within the learning context of a sector competence and sector should therefore be held in tension.

Currently there is no formal certification for any of these sectors at this level. The education and training system is not geared towards a large-scale assessment or certification at level 1 of the NQF.

There are political implications if a system of formal assessment is put in place and achievement levels are low. Furthermore, there are huge cost implications should assessment at this level be on the scale currently conducted at the Senior Certificate level.

Moreover, there is an imperative to bring the marginalised ABET sector into the mainstream by creating appropriate articulation with formal education provision so that learners can have access and mobility within the education and training system through recogni- tion of their achievements.

  1. Requirements of the GETC

There is an imperative to bring the marginalised ABET sector into the mainstream by creating appropriate articulation with formal education provision so that learners can have access and mobility within the education and training system through recognition of their achievements.

Requirement 1

Each full qualification registered at level 1 on the NQF will be called a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) and will conform to the broad requirements recommended in this document.

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Requirement 2

Each GETC will provide access to various learning pathways, both vertical and hori- zontal, in terms of the purpose of the qualification. The scope of access provided by each GETC will be determined by the qualification itself.

The primary reason for including the requirement that 20 credits of a GETC qualification be from the field of language and communication and 16 credits be from the field of

mathematics (including numeracy) is an attempt to bring some coherence to the qualification.

4.1  SAQA’s definition of a qualification

The NSB regulations in section 8 define a qualification as follows:

8(1) A qualification shall:

  • Represent a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for fur- ther learning;
  • Add value to the qualifying learner in terms of enrichment of the person through the:

– provision of status, recognition, credentials and licensing;

– enhancement of marketability and employability; and

– opening-up of access routes to additional education and training;

  • Provide benefits to society and the economy through enhancing citizenship, increasing social and economic productivity, provi- ding specifically skilled/professional people and transforming and redressing legacies of inequity;
  • Comply with the objectives of the NQF contained in section 2 of the SAQA Act;
  • Have both specific and critical cross-field outcomes which pro- mote life-long learning;
  • Where applicable, be internationally comparable;
  • Incorporate integrated assessment appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment shall use a range of formative and summative assessment such as port- folios, simulations, workplace assessments, written and oral examinations; and
  • Indicate in the rules governing the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recognition of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learning outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience.

The following paragraphs from section 9 of the NSB regulations give further definition to a qualification at NQF level 1 and begin to address the question of basic criteria for the registration of such a qualification. a. A minimum of 72 credits is required at or above the level at which the certificate is awarded, which shall consist of fundamental learning, of which at least 20 credits shall be from the field of communication studies and language, and in addition at least 16 credits  shall  be  from  the  sub-field  of  mathematics  including

numeracy in the case of certificates at level 1.

b.A minimum of 36 credits at level 1 and 52 at levels 2 to 4 which shall be divided between the core and elective categories, with

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each qualification specifying the distribution of credits required in these categories, provided that the range of additional credits shall be broad enough to enable learners to pursue some of their own learning interests.

  1. By the year 2002, at least 16 of the 52 credits for certificates at levels 2 to 4 shall be from the sub-fields focusing on mathematics

literacy.

The primary reason for including the requirement that 20 credits of a GETC qualification be from the field of language and communication and 16 credits be from the field of mathematics (including numeracy) is an attempt to bring some coherence to the qualification. There is a danger that because of the variety of learning sectors at this level, there will be a variety of different qualifications that, if they are not perceived to be of a comparable value within society, will serve to hinder progression, access, mobility and articulation rather than pro- mote it.

The danger does exist, on the one hand, that an attempt to create coherence will result in the compulsory requirements for NQF level

1 qualifications becoming too prescriptive, thereby creating artificial barriers to progression – as is the case with the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement. Too much flexibility, on the other hand, inevitably results in social judgements about the “exchange” value of certain qualifications and ultimately prejudices the learners who hold the qualification.

4.2  The purpose of the GETC

Considering that learning sectors at NQF level 1 differ extensively, it has been suggested that effectively there is no single overriding or primary purpose for qualifications at NQF level 1, as is the case with the FETC (SAQA, 2001). The argument is based on the fact that the first exit point for compulsory education – that is, the end of founda- tional education for children – occurs at this level. Hence it is con- sidered inappropriate to issue a GETC because training per se is not part of the purpose of a child’s learning at this stage. However, for adults in the workplace, the argument is that the GETC is primarily geared towards gaining the fundamental skills needed to perform effectively  within  the  workplace.  In  this  context,  it  may  not  be suitable to refer to foundational education.

This viewpoint has raised a number of issues:

  • Do all qualifications at this level have a primary purpose? The purpose of particular qualifications designed for a particular pur- pose within the primary purpose, may be added as an overlay to the primary purpose. This is the position in respect of the FETC.
  • If there are different purposes of each full qualification registered at level 1 on the NQF, should each qualification conform to the same broad requirements beyond that which is proposed in the

NSB regulations?

It has been suggested that effectively there is no single overriding or primary purpose for qualifications at NQF level 1, as is the case with the FETC.

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Integration is a bringing together or merging of the knowledge, skills and values in a learning area necessary for the demonstration of applied competence.

  • Should all qualifications at this level be called a GETC (as is the case with all qualifications at level 4 being called a FETC)? Is there an argument to be made for a GEC and a GETC?
  • What impact will this have on access, progression and articula- tion? This is the major point of discussion in respect of different qualifications at the same level. What is the social value attached to them?

4.2.1   The GETC and  integration

A useful starting point in addressing these questions, is to consider the meaning of “integration” in the context of the NQF. There are two ways of looking at integration. The first takes its cue from the first objective of the NQF, which speaks of creating an “integrated national framework for learning achievements” (RSA, 1995). According to this conception, integration does not necessarily imply a blurring of the distinctions between education and training. Formal schooling therefore, will inevitably be education-orientated and focus on knowledge acquisition and production, while industry learning will inevitably be training-oriented, focusing on skills acquisition and performance. An integrated framework provides for and promotes the co-existence on a single framework of qualifications, which articulate with one another. In other words, it allows for movement from one orientation to the other in a relatively seamless way. Taken to extremes, however, this might imply a perpetuation of the divisions between education and training.

The second way of interpreting integration, is to see it as a bring- ing together or merging of the knowledge, skills and values in a learning area necessary for the demonstration of applied compe- tence. In other words, education’s traditional emphasis on know- ledge acquisition and production needs to be counterbalanced by an emphasis on the acquisition and demonstration of skills. Similarly, training’s traditional emphasis on the acquisition and demonstration of skills needs to be counterbalanced by an emphasis on knowledge acquisition and production. An overlay of values therefore needs to characterise this amalgam of education and training. Taken to extremes, however, this might imply a homogenisation that fails to recognise the traditional strengths of particular educational or training foci.

These two concepts are not mutually exclusive, however. The NQF is a framework, which brings the two together in a manner that does not perpetuate extremism but promotes balance. Simultaneously, it recognises the particular orientations of particular qualifications. It would therefore be counterproductive, in terms of the second interpretation of integration above, to perpetuate extre- mism by registering, for example, a GEC (General Education Certificate) for the formal schooling sector, a GTC (General Training Certificate) for the industrial sector, and a GETC for the ABET sec- tor. Whatever the orientation of any of these sectors’ qualifications, it is important to register a GETC across the board, if equivalence is to be promoted among qualifications at level 1 of the NQF.

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4.2.2   A GETC typology

A consideration of the types of GETC that have been proposed by dif- ferent sectors operating at NQF level 1 – in other words, what “GETC” means in different education and training contexts – will assist us in determining equivalence at this level.

4.2.2.1 Interim  ABET Advisory  Board: ABET GETC

The IAAB has indicated (1999) that the GETC for the ABET sector will be a unit standards-based qualification, based on a combination of the Department of Education’s eight learning areas and the 12 organising fields of the NQF (including electives developed for ABET), whose 120 credits learners obtain throughout the duration of the learning programme(s) leading to the achievement of the qualifi- cation.

The GETC structure diagram (1999: 5) indicates that:

  • The fundamental learning component will comprise a total of 36 credits in language, literacy and communication and in mathema- tics and mathematical literacy;
  • That the core learning component will comprise a total of 54 cre- dits spread across a minimum of four of the remaining six learn- ing areas; and
  • That the elective learning component will comprise a total of 30 credits assigned to unit standards from any of the 12 organising fields of the NQF, including electives developed or proposed for ABET (agriculture and agricultural technology; arts and culture; economic and management sciences; small medium and micro enterprises [SMME]; technology; food and fibre processing; human and social sciences; health care; natural sciences; mathe- matics; and hospitality and tourism).

4.2.2.2 Department of Education: Schooling GETC

The Department of Education (2000b: 1-2) has indicated that the GETC for the formal schooling sector will be a “whole” qualification, based on the eight learning areas and 66 specific outcomes, whose

120 credits learners achieve between Grade 7 and Grade 9 but are awarded only in Grade 9. The credit allocation table (2000: 4) seems to suggest that:

  • The fundamental learning component will comprise a total of 36 credits in communication and mathematics;
  • That the core learning component will comprise a total of 60 cre- dits spread across the remaining six learning areas (10 credits in life orientation are compulsory; human and social sciences; eco- nomic and management sciences; natural sciences; arts and cul- ture; and technology); and
  • That the elective learning component will comprise a total of 24 credits differentially spread across the eight learning areas. Expected levels of performance (ELPs), which are clusters of spe- cific outcomes, will form a key element in determining progres-

sion and credit accumulation since they serve as standards.

The NQF is a framework, which brings together education and training in a manner that does not perpetuate extremism, but promotes balance.

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4.2.2.3 Industry-specific GETC

The initial IAAB proposal for an ABET GETC addresses the issue (1999: 9) of a possible tension between a General Education and Training Certificate and an industry-specific qualification, which by virtue of its level of specialisation may not be a GETC at all. The essential question is whether one can call a qualification whose only apparent claim to being general rests on the inclusion of communica- tion and mathematics in its fundamental learning component a GETC? Can one, for example, then have a “GETC in baking” of which the core and elective components are exclusively baking-oriented?

4.2.3 From typology to purpose

This brief look at typology suggests three different orientations of

GETC:

  • For the ABET sector, a unit standards-based whole qualification based on coverage of a combination of the eight Department of Education learning areas and the 12 NQF organising fields of which the orientation is towards education and training;
  • For the formal schooling sector, a “whole” qualification based on coverage of the eight learning areas of which the orientation is towards education; and
  • For the industrial sector, a unit standards-based or “whole” quali- fication (the sector has not specified) whose orientation is towards

training.

The Department of Education has indicated that the GETC for the formal schooling sector will be a “whole” qualification, based on the eight learning areas and 66 specific

outcomes, whose 120 credits learners achieve between Grade 7 and Grade 9 but are awarded only in Grade 9.

The three issues, which coalesce in this discussion about the purpose of the GETC are:

  • The meaning of “General” in “General Education and Training

Certificate”;

  • The integration of education and training in the GETC; and
  • The articulation of GETCs in different sectors at level 1 of the

NQF.

The discussion thus far suggests that the GETC registered on the NQF needs to be general, it needs to integrate education and training, and it needs to articulate the different needs outlined above. But how does one ensure that all three strands pertain?

Some attempt has been made in section 4.2.1 above to outline the parameters for integration. The conclusion drawn is that, if equiva- lence is to be promoted among qualifications at NQF level 1, not GECs, not GTCs, but one GETC must be registered for all strands across the board. This means that not only must all qualifications at level 1 focus on the attainment and assessment of applied compe- tence, but that in terms of their field coverage they must ensure ade- quate preparation for further learning and provide for the assumption of a productive role in the workplace. In this regard, the eight lear- ning area overlap between the proposed ABET and schooling learn- ing programmes culminating in a GETC is a positive development.

The argument for the registration of a GETC for all sectors involved in the provision of education and training at level 1 of the

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NQF is clearly linked to the notion of the purpose of the qualification. In fact, it largely answers the questions posed in the first two bullet points in section 4.2 above. If a GETC can be registered across the board, then sectoral differences are not as important as might be sup- posed.

It might be argued that the description of the purpose of a GETC for ABET as contained in the initial IAAB submission (IAAB, 1999), holds true not only for the ABET sector but for all sectors operating at level 1 of the NQF. The following extracts from the document make the point:

The [GETC] provides formal recognition that persons have the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to perform the parti- cular roles – related to the purpose – according to the standards and levels of complexity required by our society (1999: 1-2).

ABET introduces citizens to a culture of learning and provides them with the foundations for acquiring the knowledge and skills need- ed for social and economic development, justice and equality. It also provides access to further and higher education, training and employ- ment (Department of Education, 1997; cited in IAAB, 1999: 2).

The document goes on to claim four broad purposes for a GETC:

  • Political: for informed participation in a democracy;
  • Social: for active involvement in community contexts;
  • Personal: for empowerment, self-confidence and linkage to cul- tural capital; and
  • Economic: for economic growth, in terms of providing a founda- tion for the acquisition of knowledge and skills needed for the world of work (1999: 3; emphasis added).

Together these “purposes” constitute the general foundation for the future development of the child, adolescent or adult. The degree to which the learner embraces them will depend on the specific purpose of the qualification and the particular orientation of the learner. For example, as the second IAAB submission put it (2000: 1), the ABET GETC by virtue of being an adult learner qualification has to serve many purposes, such as enabling learners to progress into the FET band, constituting an exit qualification and a first recognised qualifi- cation providing access to learnerships and work-related skills.

To encapsulate the above:

  • There is a primary purpose for the GETC across all sectors;
  • The GETC constitutes a general education and training and pre- pares learners both for further learning and, whether immediately or in the longer term (directly or indirectly) for the world of work1; and

ABET introduces citizens to a culture of learning and provides them with the foundations for acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for social and economic development, justice and equality. It also provides access to further and higher

education, training and employment.

1     The SAFCERT submission (SAFCERT, 2000: 9) points to the importance of the GETC preparing school-based learners to join the world of work should they not wish to pursue school-based learning beyond the GETC.

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  • Notwithstanding its particular orientation, no GETC should focus on one “stream” (education versus training; academic versus vocational) at the expense of the other.

At this point a statement of purpose for the GETC may be formulated as follows:

Requirement 3

The primary purpose of the GETC is to equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills  that  will  enable  or  enhance meaningful  participation  in  society,  contribute towards developing sustainable communities, provide a basis for learning in further education and training, and establish a firm foundation for the assumption of a pro- ductive and responsible role in the workplace.

The GETC should ensure that learners have the competencies to engage in further learning while at the same time providing access to the FET band as well as according recognition to prior learning.

This recommendation addresses the issue of the integration of educa- tion and training and through its statement of a trifocal purpose for the GETC attempts to delimit the meaning of General in General Education and Training. However, the question of whether it provides sufficiently clear guidelines on the meaning of general in specific design contexts requires further exploration.

One conception is that the NQF should be able to accommodate qualifications that are very general (at one end of the continuum) and very specific (at the other end of the continuum). Another conception is that in order to be called a General Education and Training Certificate, a GETC must be general enough to provide learners with a general education and training, yet specific enough to satisfy the needs of a particular sector. The former approach allows for maxi- mum flexibility, yet a possibility of over-specialisation of a General Education and Training Certificate and concomitant failure of the qualification to provide an adequate preparation for movement into the FET band. The latter allows for an apparent balance between over-generalisation and over-specialisation, yet is prescriptive and therefore potentially restrictive. If constructors are given free reign to develop GETCs that serve their needs, questions may arise regarding the articulation between (for example) specialised industry-based and general schooling qualifications, or around how their relative values are perceived. Perhaps a first round of GETC registration and provi- sion of learning programmes leading to the achievement of such qualifications will help illuminate future approaches.

The GETC should ensure that learners have the competencies to engage in further learning while at the same time providing access to the FET band as well as according recognition to prior learning.

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4.3  Rules of combination

4.3.1 Minimum credits at level 1

The same problem identified in the FETC Policy Document (SAQA,

2001) exists at this level. In terms of the NSB regulations, the require- ments that must be fulfilled by a learner before an NQF level 1 quali- fication can be awarded, are as follows:

  • 120 credits, of which 72 must be at level 1 or above; and
  • Of these 72 credits, 20 credits must be in language and communi- cation, and 16 must be in mathematics.

The gap in the regulations is evident: in the case of the 48 credits that do not need to be at level 1 or above, what is their minimum level (since the first NQF level is level 1)?

As indicated above (section 4.2.2.2), the Department of Education (2000b) has proposed that in the case of the schooling sec- tor GETC all 120 credits will be at level 1 of the NQF. This is per- fectly  acceptable,  since  the  NSB  regulations  specify  (regulation

9[1][a]; RSA, 1998a) that a minimum of 72 credits need to be at or above the level at which the qualification is pegged. In the case of the ABET sector, however, the existence of three sub-levels below level

1 of the NQF allows one to assign 48 of the 120 credits at ABET level

  1. Indeed, this is the proposal made by the ABET sector. Equivalence of these two types of qualification, then, is determined at the final exit level of the qualification – on the achievement of the 120 credits.

The critical cross-field outcomes should be used as the primary measuring stick in the fundamental areas of learning to assess the attainment of the purpose of the qualification.

Requirement 4

A minimum of 120 credits is required for the GETC, of which at least 72 must be at

NQF level 1.

4.3.2  The fundamental learning component of the GETC

The questions about the fundamental learning requirements are simi- lar to those of the FETC. It is important to emphasize that these two areas of learning provide the key to further learning and hence the complexity and choices of standards are crucial. These have to relate to the purpose of the qualification. The critical cross-field outcomes should be used as the primary measuring stick in the fundamental areas of learning to assess the attainment of the purpose of the quali- fication. This will also determine whether the skills in these areas can be applied in the general arena of the qualification.

The question then arises as to the degree of coherence that should be prescribed or the amount of learning that must be common for all learners in the GET band to ensure that progress to further learning is possible within the variety of contexts. The structure and rules of combination for qualifications at this level therefore become crucial in  ensuring  that  no  barriers  to  accessing  further  education  and training are created. The role of the critical outcomes and their rela-

tionship to the purpose of the qualification is also crucial. Likewise,

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the role of the compulsory credits in language and communication and in mathematics is important.

4.3.2.1 Language and communication

Given the importance of language in the development of thinking skills and the necessity for aligning language study with the medium of instruction of further study – a point forcefully made in the SAFCERT submission (2000: 8) – the requirement for NQF level 1 qualifications in respect of the 20 credits for language and communi- cation could be as follows:

Requirement 5

The 20 compulsory credits in language and communication must be obtained at NQF level 1 in one of the 11 official South African languages (Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, or isiZulu) or in one of the languages promoted by the Pan South African Language Board (the Khoi, Nama, and San languages, and sign language) in terms of the South African Constitution (Chapter 1, Section 6; RSA, 1996).

The GETC forum opined that the best way to promote multilingualism among adults, was not to rigidly specify the required number of credits, but to allow the constituency to decide on this issue, given the fact that

most adults are able to communicate in more than one language.

The learning outcomes and associated assessment criteria at level 1 must be of the standard required by a learner to participate effective- ly at an institution for further education and training. An appropriate SGB has already been established to determine these learning out- comes and assessment criteria. The work of this SGB would clearly have to take into account the particular needs of all stakeholders in the GET band. The varied nature of learners in this band is a pertinent issue in terms of the study of language. Care must be taken to ensure that there is no duplication of the work and that a single coherent sys- tem is created in respect of the fundamental learning standards.

The issues about the study of language in a multilingual society, which includes the question of language of instruction and language usage in the workplace, are discussed in the FETC Policy Document (SAQA, 2001). The FETC requirements, include a proposal that a further 20 credits in language and communication must be obtained in a second official language at a minimum of NQF level 3. This is included to address the need to develop citizens who can participate effectively in a multilingual society. The questions that could be asked in the context of the GETC are:

  • Is a requirement in respect of a second language appropriate for

NQF level 1?

  • The requirement for the FETC pitches the level of proficiency in the second language at NQF level 3. At what level would it be pitched for qualifications at NQF level 1?

The GETC forum felt that for adults the best way to promote multi- lingualism was not to rigidly specify the required number of credits, but to allow the constituency to decide on this issue, given the fact that most adults are able to communicate in more than one language.

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To address the need to develop citizens who can participate effec- tively in a multilingual society the following is proposed:

Requirement 6

A further 20 credits in language and communication may be obtained in an additional official language enshrined in the South African Constitution (RSA, 1996) or in one of the languages promoted by the Pan South African Language Board (the Khoi, Nama, and San languages, and sign language) in terms of the South African Constitution.

In the light of the abovementioned language requirements, the vari- ous sectors or streams need to specify their particular needs.

4.3.2.2 Mathematics (including numeracy)

Given the legacy on the medium of instruction that still haunts South Africa and the fact that English, the language of international com- munication, is not the first language of the vast majority of South Africans, the rationale for the inclusion of communication and lan- guage within the fundamental learning component of level 1 to 4 qualifications is not difficult to understand. Less accessible is the rea- son for including mathematics in the fundamental component. This is notwithstanding the arguments for the need to produce numerate citi- zens who can, at worst, “get by” in banks, shops, and casinos. Not surprisingly, the SAFCERT submission (2000) devotes much discus- sion to the issue of the type of mathematical literacy that will com- prise the fundamental learning component of the GETC, making the point that “to enforce mathematical literacy in the ‘general’ sense … (mathematics as a subject) may have the unintended consequence of many learners deciding not to enter the stream of lifelong learning” (2000: 7). Consultations on the most appropriate type of mathemati- cal literacy for the GETC will therefore be required. An SGB for mathematical literacy has been established to this end and is con- sidering the proposals as well as the needs already expressed by various sectors.

The following questions throw some of the issues into relief:

  • 16 credits in mathematics including numeracy must be obtained. Should all learners who achieve a level 1 qualification have achieved the same learning outcomes to be credited with the mini- mum compulsory 16 credits? Or could different candidates have achieved different outcomes?
  • The credits could be achieved in different areas of study, but would the outcomes be the same?

The intention behind the inclusion of language and communication and of mathematical literacy in the fundamental component is not to limit access, but to provide a foundation for further learning and to enable the effective participation of literate and numerate citizens in society. This said, it should be possible to achieve the outcomes in a

The intention behind the inclusion of language and communication and of mathematical literacy in the fundamental component is not to limit access, but to provide a foundation

for further learning and to enable the effective participation of literate and numerate citizens in society.

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In some qualifications it may not be very easy to determine what constitutes core learning as opposed to elective learning, while in other qualifications the core learning will dominate the

necessary credits by virtue of the purpose of the qualification.

variety of learning contexts so that the emphasis is not on the study of concepts in the abstract or more specifically on mathematics as a subject. Moreover, if one is to obtain a measure of equivalence between, for instance, mathematics for school children and mathe- matics for factory workers, there needs to be a measure of accommo- dation of academically-oriented mathematics within the industry con- text and of industry-oriented mathematics within the schooling con- text for the primary purpose of not compromising the GETC.

In this regard, an appropriate SGB would need to be established to determine level 1 learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Furthermore, there are SGBs that are working on standards in these areas or SGBs that are in the process of formation. Care must be taken to ensure that there is no duplication of the work and that a sin- gle coherent system is created in respect of fundamental learning standards. Moreover, in the development of the fundamental mathe- matics standards from GETC to FETC, attention must be given to ensuring that there are no critical gaps and that progression is logical

from one level to the next. For this reason, it is recommended that:

Requirement 7

The 16 credits from the organisational field of mathematics and mathematical literacy must be obtained at NQF level 1.

4.3.3  Core and elective learning

Paragraph 9(b) of the NSB regulations discusses the question of core and elective learning:

A minimum of 36 (thirty-six) credits at level 1 … which shall be divided between the core and elective categories, with each quali- fication specifying the distribution of credits required in these categories: Provided that the range of additional credits shall be broad enough to enable learners to pursue some of their own learning interests.

It is unlikely that any blanket ruling on the division of credits across these two categories will serve any positive purpose. The reason for this is that the different purposes of qualifications should ultimately determine the ratio of core and elective learning. In some qualifica- tions it may not be very easy to determine what constitutes core learn- ing as opposed to elective learning, while in other qualifications the core learning will dominate the necessary credits by virtue of the pur- pose of the qualification. The determination of what constitutes core learning for a qualification and what the elective options are should rest with the proposers of the qualification.

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Requirement 8

The principle is accepted that proposers of a certain qualification can designate spe- cific areas of study or credits as compulsory within that qualification, in addition to the fundamentals and in compliance with other GETC requirements and regulations as established by SAQA.

4.3.4 Additional rules of combination

In a system of credit accumulation there is a danger that credits are accumulated separately from a number of different providers over a period of time and that in that process, the overall purpose of the qualification has been lost, even though the learner has accumulated all the parts. HET practice requires learners to complete a certain per- centage of the qualification requirements or aspects of the qualifica- tion within the institution before the qualification is awarded and only a limited number of courses from other institutions is taken into con- sideration.

In the case of the Senior Certificate with Endorsement, there are minimum requirements for the number of subjects that must be offered and passed at one sitting of the examination – the group examination concept. These requirements are attempts at ensuring coherence within the qualification. This issue needs consideration and guidance on how and where the concerns around the “shopping basket” accumulation of credits can be addressed, and is alluded to in the context of integrated assessment and RPL below.

In an attempt at ensuring coherence, it may be apposite to advise

the following requirement:

In a system of credit accumulation there is a danger that credits are accumulated

separately from a number of different providers over a period of time and that in that process, the overall purpose of the qualification is lost.

Requirement 9

Proposers of qualifications must liaise with  the ETQAs which quality assure the learning programmes leading to the awarding of the GETC on the requirements for ensuring coherence of those qualifications.

4.4  The articulation of whole qualifications based on unit standards and whole qualifications not based on unit standards at level 1 of the NQF

According to the NSB regulations (8[4]), a registered qualification at NQF level 1, or indeed at any level on the NQF, may be constructed from unit standards or it may be registered as a “whole” qualification

– that is, not constructed from unit standards. The use of the term “whole qualification” in the regulations is ambiguous as it may be construed to imply that a non-unit standards-based qualification is in some way less than whole. Others have differentiated the two on the basis of exit-level outcomes, “whole qualifications” being based on

exit-level outcomes rather than unit standards. Even this is a miscon-

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ception, since both unit standards-based and non-unit standards- based qualifications are required to stipulate the exit-level outcomes that learners need to demonstrate towards achievement of the qualifi- cation (NSB regulations 5[1][b & c]).

This last point in fact assists us in solving the difficulty of articu- lation and equivalence between unit standards-based and non-unit standards-based qualifications. Short of insisting that all qualifica- tions should be unit standards-based – as the SAFCERT submission suggests doing (2000: 9) – one way of demonstrating equivalence is to make articulation hinge on the common denominator, namely exit- level outcomes. Thus, since the formal schooling certificate is likely to be a “whole qualification”, a comparison of the schooling GETC and the ABET GETC, for example, can be made on the basis of their respective exit-level outcomes.

This does not, however, preclude the articulation of unit stan- dards-based qualifications on the basis of unit standards, specific out- comes, or even level.

The following requirement is therefore included:

Requirement 10

A registered GETC can be a unit standards-based  or a non-unit  standards-based qualification, in accordance with the requirements of the NSB regulations (8[4]). Unit and non-unit standards-based GETCs should articulate on the basis of their exit-level outcomes.

It may be necessary for SAQA to take a principled stand that progression within a band may be on the basis of accumulation of credits as determined by the providers within a band.

4.5  Progression from GET to FET and credit  accumulation

The issue of progression from GET to FET and credit accumulation is discussed to some extent in the FETC Policy Document. The Department of Education FET Curriculum Discussion Document (Department of Education, 2000a: 19) appears to support the notion that a learner may accumulate credits, but should certain credits not have been achieved, the learner may enrol concurrently for credits at level 2 and at level 3, for example. In the same document (2000a: 31) the following statement is made: “After a learner has obtained the FETC, s/he can proceed towards the achievement of outcomes lead- ing to a certificate or diploma at level 5, subject to HE (or Higher Education) admission requirements.” This policy reflects the process currently followed in higher education and indicates a shift from past practice.

It may be necessary for SAQA to take a principled stand that progression within a band may be on the basis of accumulation of credits as determined by the providers within a band. However, progression between bands must be based on the achievement of critical qualifications: for example, progress from ABET to enrolment for a qualification in the Further Education and Training Band requires the achievement of a GETC; progress from study at

level 3 and below to a qualification in the Higher Education and

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Training Band requires the achievement of a FETC. Alternatively, proposers of qualifications may be asked to indicate the conditions in terms of which progress to a qualification at a level in the next band is granted, although the danger exists that this flexibility may ultimately undermine the credibility and coherence of the NQF itself.

The question is how to balance progression and access. There is a need to balance flexibility with rationality in the system so that it is possible for institutions to manage learning in a coherent manner. The real challenge may well be to ensure that institutions are sufficiently flexible.

The Department of Education FET Curriculum Discussion Document (2000a) suggests that credit accumulation at levels 2 and 3 will be acknowledged by issuing credit-based certificates when the minimum compulsory credits have been attained. The accumulated credits will be captured on SAQA’s National Learners’ Record Database (NLRD). This process motivates learners by accrediting achievement as it occurs.

Certain other proposers of qualifications that span more than one level are experimenting with the concept of designing the qualifica- tion in such a way that credit-based certificates can be issued along the way as the necessary credits are achieved.

It has been argued forcefully in the FETC Policy Document that the underlying principle in the design of an NQF level 4 qualification must be that the qualifying learner has the learning assumed to be in place to embark upon the study of qualifications at a higher level and that through the acquisition of the NQF level 4 qualification a viable learning pathway is created. This underpins the concept that qualifi- cation design must favour the principle of “dove-tailing”: exiting from one qualification must lead directly to entry to one or more qualifications at the same or higher level of the NQF. This principle

should be adopted in the case of qualifications at NQF level 1.

There is a need to balance flexibility with rationality in the system so that it is

possible for institutions to manage learning in a

coherent manner.

Requirement 11

Learners not meeting the requirements to be awarded the GETC must receive a state- ment of achievement, reflecting the credits obtained or outcomes achieved.

4.6  Integrated assessment

The  NSB  regulations  require  that  the  proposers  of  qualifications address the notion of integrated assessment in their submissions.

Integrated assessment needs to be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved. Such assess- ment should use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations (regulation 8[1][g]; RSA, 1998a).

One of the problems facing the system is that previously there was  no  formally  recognised  qualification  at  NQF  level  1.  Some

would argue that even current discussions do not indicate a single

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clear purpose for a qualification at this level. Furthermore, the prob- lem with a system that encourages the achievement of a qualification through credit accumulation, is that a learner may achieve the required number of credits in the relevant areas of study – credits earned over a period of time – at different learning sites and through different assessment modes or perhaps even through RPL. Because of the possible fragmented nature of the learning and assessment, there is no guarantee that the overall purpose of the qualification has been achieved.

The issue of integrated assessment is addressed in the SAQA pub- lication Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF Registered Unit Standards and Qualifications (SAQA, 1999). This is a complex con- cept, and engagement with it by practitioners will encourage further

development and debate.

Requirement 12

Providers and ETQAs should engage with each other, with stakeholders in their sec- tors, and with SAQA on how best to maintain the integrity of the GETC beyond the requirement that the purpose of the qualification be achieved through appropriate incorporation of integrated assessment.

4.7  Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

The NSB regulations stipulate that proposers of qualifications at level

1 of the NQF must, in their submissions, indicate in the rules gov- erning the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recognition of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learning outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience (RSA, 1998a; regulation 8[1][h]). It will be necessary to spell out the criteria for awarding the qualification (or part of it) through RPL.

Requirement 13

ETQAs and providers of learning programmes leading to the achievement of the GETC should collaborate in formulating policies and devising criteria that allow learners to achieve whole or part qualifications through the recognition of prior learning.

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5   Issues of implementation

A number of issues have been raised in this document, which have different implications for the different sectors operating at the GETC level. The challenge will be for each of these sectors to find ways of implementing the requirements so as to achieve coherence in the design and construction of qualifications and in learning programme provision at level 1 of the NQF.

One of the key challenges facing all sectors is how to ensure the articulation of qualifications across the band. In this regard, the Department of Education will have to give further consideration to the articulation of its qualifications with those of the ABET and industrial sectors. The question it will need to address is: What kind of recognition will the statements of achievement given to learners who exit from the formal schooling system before the achievement of a GETC – that is, before Grade 9 – have in the ABET and industrial

sectors, and more broadly, in society at large?

Further design and implementation issues, which the Department of

Education will need to consider, are:

  • The relationship between the learning outcomes, assessment stan- dards and the exit-level outcomes which its qualifications are required to specify, and expected levels of performance (ELPs); and
  • The accumulation of credit below Grade 7, and the award of credit below Grade 9.

In terms of the IAAB submission (1999), the ABET sector will need to consider whether the range of elective unit standards available to the learner should be more narrowly defined and its relationship to the core unit standards more clearly explicated to ensure that its selec- tion contributes towards the achievement of the purpose of the quali- fication. This question of the composition of the core and elective components of qualifications, particularly the relationship between the two in terms of their contribution towards the achievement of the purpose of the qualification, is a matter for all sectors operating at the level. Further meetings of the GETC Stakeholder Forum will be held to ensure that the design of qualifications and their role will be co- ordinated in a systematic and coherent way.

However, in the absence of sound education, training and develop- ment, qualifications design and learning programme provision the best GETC design and GET provision in the world will not succeed in laying a firm foundation for personal and socio-economic develop- ment, which is an objective of the NQF. In other words, the quality of the educator/trainer, as well as education and training (both pre- service and in-service) will ultimately determine the success of NQF implementation and bring about the education and training transfor- mation, which South Africa seeks. In this regard, it is important that all role-players involved in GET provision liaise with the SGBs reg-

istered under NSB 05 [Education, Training and Development (ETD)]

One of the key challenges facing all sectors is how to ensure the articulation of qualifications across the band.

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to ensure that their interests are accommodated in qualifications design. They should also liaise with the ETQAs accredited to oversee the provision of learning programmes leading to the achievement of ETD qualifications to ensure that educators and trainers are well pre- pared to provide learning programmes leading to the GETC.

NQF

Level

Band

8

7

Higher Education and Training

6

5

Further Education and

4

Further Education and Training

3

2

General Education and

1                                              General Education  and Training

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6   Conclusion

It should be emphasised that one of the strengths of the SAQA sys- tem is that it is an open system, allowing flexibility for different bod- ies to put forward the qualifications that serve their needs. The regu- lations should not be restrictive and drive the system back towards closing pathways rather than opening up pathways. It must be remembered that access and portability exist in tension: as access is opened up and flexibility is prioritised, the portability of credits from one qualification to another becomes more limited. Conversely, the more portability of credits is emphasized, the more restrictive and less flexible access becomes. SAQA must ensure that the system does not become restrictive or create artificial barriers to viable pathways.

Careful consideration must be given to ways of bringing about systemic change. Even if SAQA accepts qualifications as proposed by different bodies, debated according to agreed principles, the real problem lies with society’s acceptance of their value. Consideration of more flexible organisational arrangements within the system are likely to have the effect of “loosening up” the system and encouraging life-long learning – for example, the semesterisation of learning and

assessment and the relaxing of group examination requirements.

Qualification Type

  • Post-doctoral research degrees
  • Doctorates
  • Masters degrees
  • Professional Qualifications
  • Honours degrees
  • National first degrees
  • Higher diplomas
  • National diplomas
  • National certificates

Training Certificate  (FETC)

National certificates

Training Certificate  (GETC)

Grade 9                                    ABET Level 4

National certificates

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Members of the GETC Stakeholder Forum

Mr. David Diale                      Department of Education

Ms. Ayesha Itzkin                   South African Certification Council

Ms. W.R. Kilfoil                      South African Universities

Vice-Chancellors Association

Ms. M. King                            Independent Examinations Board

Dr. L.P. Kriel                           Department of Education

Mr. S. Le Roux                        Project Literacy

Ms. S. Mokhobo-Nomvete      Department of Labour

M.E. Makgathe                        Department of Education

Ms. S. Müller                          National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa

Mr. R. Poliah                           South African Certification Council

Ms. J. Rabinowitz                   SACHED-ASECA (South African Committee on Higher Education – A Secondary Education Curriculum for Adults

Dr. Ramarumo                        Department of Education

Mrs. M. Samuels                     Department of Education

Ms. L. Scott                             Independent Examinations Board

Ms. Z.N. Sokopo                     Department of Education

Mr. Edcent Williams                Department of Education

Mr. J. Samuels                         South African Qualifications Authority

Ms. A. Oberholzer                  South African Qualifications Authority

SAQA acknowledges the considerable contribution of Mr Michael Cosser in the development of this policy document.

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References

Department  of  Education  (1997).  Policy  Document  on  Adult  Basic

Education & Training. Pretoria: Department of Education.

Department of Education (2000a). FET Curriculum Discussion Document.

Pretoria: Department of Education.

Department of Education (2000b). “Proposal to HEDCOM on: The General

Education and Training Certificate.” Pretoria: Department of Education.

IAAB  (1999).  “GETC  Proposal  for  ABET.”  Pretoria:  Department  of

Education.

IAAB (2000). “GETC Discussion: Comments from the IAAB, 31 October

2000.” Pretoria: Department of Education.

RSA (1995). “South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995).” Government Gazette No. 1521 (4 October). Pretoria: Government Printer.

RSA (1996). “Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996).” Adopted on 8 May 1996; amended on

11 October 1996 by the Constitutional Assembly. Published at http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/constitution/saconst.html.

RSA (1998a). “Regulations under the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995).” Government Gazette No. 18787 (28 March). Pretoria: Government Printer.

RSA (1998b). “Regulations under the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995).” Government Gazette No. 19231 (8 September). Pretoria: Government Printer.

SAFCERT (2000). “Submission on SAQA’s ‘Document for Submissions: GETC’.” Pretoria: South African Certification Council.

SAQA (1999). Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF Registered Unit Standards and Qualifications. Pretoria: South African Qualifications Authority.

SAQA   (2001).   FETC   Policy   Document.   Pretoria:   South   African

Qualifications Authority.

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Glossary

Access  refers to the provision of ease of entry to appropriate levels of edu- cation and training for all prospective learners in a manner which facilitates progression.

Accreditation  means the certification, usually for a particular period of time, of a person, a body or an institution as having the capacity to fulfil a particular function in the quality assurance system set up by the South African Qualifications Authority in terms of the SAQA Act.

Articulation   refers to provision for learners, on successful completion of accredited prerequisites, to move between components of the deli- very system.

Applied competence   means the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

Assessor  means the person who is registered by the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance body in accordance with criteria esta- blished for this purpose by a Standards Generating Body, to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards and qualifications.

Coherence  means to work within a consistent framework of principles and certification.

Core learning  refers to compulsory learning required in situations contex- tually relevant to the particular qualification.

Critical outcomes   means those generic outcomes that inform all teaching and learning.

Education  and Training Quality Assurance body  (ETQA)  means a body accredited in terms of section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act. The body is responsible for monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards and qualifications and to which specific functions relating to the monitoring and auditing of national standards and qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5(1)(b)(i) of the SAQA Act.

Elective learning   refers to a selection of additional credits at the level of the NQF specified from which a choice may be made to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved.

Exit level outcomes   means the outcomes to be achieved by a qualifying learner at the point at which he or she leaves the programme leading to a qualification.

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Fundamental learning  refers to learning which forms the ground or basis needed to undertake the education, training or further learning required in obtaining a qualification.

Integrated  assessment  refers to that form of assessment that permits the learner to demonstrate applied competence and which uses a range of formative and summative assessment methods.

Learnership  refers to a learning programme where the learner spends some time learning theory and some time learning practical skills in a workplace. It leads to a qualification registered on the NQF.

Moderating body  means a body specifically appointed by the Authority for the purpose of moderation.

National Learners’ Record Database (NLRD) refers to an information sys- tem designed to facilitate the management of the NQF and enable SAQA to report accurately on most aspects of education and training in South Africa.

National Standards Body (NSB) refers to a body registered in terms of sec- tion 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act. The body is responsible for esta- blishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the registration of national stan- dards and qualifications have been assigned in terms of section

5(1)(b)(i) of the SAQA Act.

Organising field  means a particular area of learning used as an organising mechanism for the NQF.

Outcomes  means the contextually demonstrated end products of the lear- ning process.

Progression  means to ensure that the framework of qualification permits individuals to move through the levels of notional qualifications via different appropriate combinations of the competence of the deli- very system.

Primary  focus    means that activity or objective within the sector upon which an organisation or body concentrates its efforts.

Recognition  of prior learning (RPL)  refers to recognition within the final education and training framework of previous learning acquired in a variety of contexts either informally, non-formally, experientially or formally.

Standards Generating Body (SGB) refers to a body registered in terms of section 5(1)(a)(i) of the SAQA Act. The body is responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the establishment of national

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standards and qualifications have been assigned in terms of section

5(1)(b)(i) of the SAQA Act.

Unit standard  means registered statements of desired education and training outcomes and their associated assessment criteria together with administrative and other information as specified in these regulations.

Acronyms

ABET               Adult Basic Education and Training COSATU                        Congress of South African Trade Unions ELP                        Expected levels of performance

ETQA               Education and Training Quality Assurance Body

FETC               Further Education and Training Certificate GETC      General Education and Training Certificate HEDCOM            Heads of Education Departments Committee IAAB           Interim ABET Advisory Board

NLRD               National Learners’ Record Database NQF     National Qualifications Framework NSB        National Standards Body

RPL                 Recognition of prior learning SAFCERT        South African Certification Council SGB   Standards Generating Body

SMME              Small Medium and Micro Enterprises

32                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

THE SOCIAL PARTNERS OF SAQA

Minister of Education

Minister of Labour

SAQA

DoE

DoL

NSBs

NLRD

NSA

SGBs

CHE (HEQC) Proposed GENFETQA

ETQAs

ETQA-SETAs

Education and Training Providers

Professional

Bodies/Institutes

Learners

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

ISBN: 0-620-28289-4

SAQA: The NQF and Standards Setting

The NQF and Standards Setting

Download a copy of this policy from the SAQA website here:
http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/standard_setting.pdf

The National Qualifications Framework and the Standards Setting

Setting quality standards is the first step in the quality cycle

SBA Isaacs

Write to us at

Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06

WATERKLOOF, 0145

Visit us at:

659  Pienaar Street (cnr. Waterkloof Road) BROOKLYN, Pretoria

Telephone us at

012 – 482 0800      Switchboard

012 – 482 0802      Executive Office

012 – 482 0836      Resource Centre and general information

012 – 482 0810      Strategic Support

012 – 482 0810      Communications

012 – 482 0807      Standards Setting and Development

012 – 482 0805      Quality Assurance and Development

012 – 482 0858      Evaluation of Educational Qualifications

Fax us at

012 – 346 5813      Executive Office

012 – 346 5809      Secretariat

012 – 346 5809      Communications

012 – 346 5812      Standards Setting and Development

012 – 346 5814      Quality Assurance and Development

e-mail us at

Visit our website at

http://www.saqa.org.za

These new telephone numbers will be in operation from 1 August 2000. Publication date: July 2000

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction                                                                                    3
  1. SAQA Vision, Mission and Structures                                             3
  1. Concepts in Standards Setting                                                       14
  1. Respective Roles and Functions of NSB’s and SGB’s                   21
  1. SGB Applications – Process and Criteria                                      33
  1. Generating Standards and Qualifications                                      36

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

SAQA’s Mission

To ensure the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework which contributes to the full development of each learner and to the social and economic development of the nation at large.

GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS

ABET           Adult Basic Education and Training

AD               Assistant Director /NSB Co-ordinator

CSS              Communications and Secretarial Services (Division) DSSD                     Directorate Standards Setting and Development ETQA     Education and Training Quality Assurance (Bodies) FET    Further Education and Training

FI                 Framework Implementation GET   General Education and Training HET      Higher Education and Training HOD     Head of Department

NQF             National Qualifications Framework

NSB             National Standards Body

SAQA          South African Qualifications Authority

SGB             Standards Generating Body

2                                         A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K          STANDARDS SETTING

Introduction

T

he South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) was established through the SAQA Act of 1995 to oversee the development and imple- mentation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The NQF is a means for transforming the education and training in South Africa and has

been designed to:

  • create a single, integrated, national education and training framework for the whole nation
  • make it easier for learners to enter the education and training system and to move and progress within it
  • improve the quality of education and training in South Africa
  • enable learners to develop to their full potential and thereby support the

social and economic development of the country as a whole.

The NQF is essentially a quality assurance system with the development and registration of standards and qualifications as the first important step in implementing a quality education and training system in South Africa. The bodies responsible for generation and recommendation of qualifications and standards are respectively called Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs) and National Standards Bodies (NSBs). The bodies responsible for the quality assurance of the standards and qualifications are called Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies that will carry out their functions in co- operation with education training providers and moderating bodies.

The purpose of the paper is to explain the role and function of standards setting within the NQF. In order to understand the role of standards setting it is important to understand the purpose of SAQA and its vision for educa- tion and training. This vision is explored in the first section of the paper, together with other important features of SAQA – its role and function in developing and overseeing the NQF. This section on SAQA will be fol- lowed by an outline of the main concepts of standards setting and how the structures are operating as well as the underlying rationale for their func- tioning. After outlining the basic features of standards setting structures, the relationship of the structures to qualifications and standards will be explored as well as their relationship to other NQF structures and processes.

SAQA Vision, Mission  and Structures.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

The Minister of Education, in consultation with, the Minister of Labour appoints the 29 SAQA members for a period of three years. The 29 SAQA members represent the major education and training stakeholders including representatives from government, business and labour.

The Vision

SAQA’s vision is to develop an education and training system that reflects

The NQF is essentially a quality assurance system with the development and registration of standards and qualifications as the first important step in implementing a quality education and training system in South Africa.

A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority                                        3

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

SAQA Mission Statement

To ensure the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework which contributes to the full development of each learner and to the social and economic development of the nation at large.

SAQA Functions

The primary function of SAQA is to oversee the development

and implementation of the NQF.

The primary function of SAQA (also called ‘the Authority’) is to oversee the development and implementation of the NQF (also called ‘the Framework’).

In terms of section 5(1) of the South African Qualifications Authority

Act (1995), SAQA must:

  • Oversee the development of the NQF.
  • Formulate and publish policies and criteria for:

–  registering bodies responsible for establishing education and training qualifications and standards (NSBs and SGBs)

–  accrediting bodies responsible for monitoring and auditing achieve- ments in terms of such qualifications and standards (ETQAs)

  • Oversee the implementation of the NQF, including:

–  registering or accrediting the above mentioned bodies and assigning their functions

–  registering national qualifications and standards

–  ensuring compliance with provisions for accreditation

–  benchmarking standards and registered qualifications internationally

  • Advise the Minister on the registration of qualifications and standards.
  • Be responsible for the control of the finances of the Authority.

National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

Objectives

The objectives of the NQF as stated in the Mission Statement above and according to the SAQA Act are the following:

  • Create an integrated national framework for learning achievements.
  • Facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within, education,

training and career paths.

  • Enhance the quality of education and training.
  • Accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, train-

ing and employment opportunities, and thereby

  • Contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

Levels

SAQA has adopted an eight-level framework. Level 1 is the least complex, and Level 8 the most complex. Both Levels 1 and 8 are regarded as open- ended. This means that there is learning below Level 1 that will only be formally recognised by SAQA at Level 1.

There is one exception, put in place to provide for the recognition of

4                                         A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

adult learning that falls outside of the Framework. Level 1 has three certifi- cation levels for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) – 1, 2 and 3 – which lead to the General Education and Training Certificate (ABET 4) at Level 1 on the NQF. These features are illustrated below:

Levels:  5-8

Tertiary And Research

Higher Initial National and Professional
Research Degrees Degrees Higher National Employment
Diplomas

Levels:  2-4

to Higher National Certificate(s)

CORE and APPLIED GENERIC and OPTIONS

Senior               Technical                  Private              Industry Training         Labour RTCs Secondary               Colleges &         Providers &                   Market Schemes Schools                  Community                     NGOs

Colleges

Level:  1    Compulsory

COMPULSORY SCHOOLING: Level 1 or the

General Certificate of Education – GETC

ABE & TRAINING: Level 1 or the General

Certificate of Education – GETC

Grade 9

Grade 7

Grade 5

Grade 3

ABET 4

ABET 3

ABET 2

ABET 1

EDUCARE

Bands

What is also clear from the above table is that the 8 levels are grouped into three (3) bands –

  • General Education and Training (GET), covering Level 1 and below.
  • Further Education and Training (FET), covering Levels 2 to 4.
  • Higher Education and Training (HET), covering Level 5 to 8.
  • These terms describe the different levels of education and training in

South Africa.

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

Key Aspects  of the NQF

Critical Cross-Field Education and Training Outcomes

Critical cross-field outcomes are those generic outcomes that are useful for, and result from, all teaching and learning.

Critical cross-field outcomes are those generic outcomes that are useful for, and result from, all teaching and learning.

Organising Fields and Sub-fields

For organisational purposes, the NQF divides all education and training in

South Africa into 12 organising fields.

SAQA has established 12 National Standards Bodies, one per field. These organising fields are not based on traditional discipline or subject areas; nor are they based on economic sectors. SAQA recognises that real life does not fall neatly into fields or sub-fields. These organising fields are a convenient mixture of the two, to make standards generation possible.

SAQA also published an initial framework of sub-fields for the twelve organising fields of the NQF (this appears below). Sub-field delineation is a dynamic exercise, it is likely that these initial sub-fields will change over time for the purpose of operationalisation, however, it was necessary to freeze them for a period, to enable stakeholders to locate SGB formation within a stable framework. Through a research study SAQA will, in con- junction with NSBs and the fields as a whole, develop more permanent sub- fields and their rationales.

The formation of SGBs within the framework of sub-fields will require careful monitoring on the part of both SAQA staff and NSBs. While in many instances there will be more than one SGB per sub-field, an NSB will have to ensure that the size of the SBGs and the number of SGBs per sub- field, are appropriate to the field. The sub-committee for SGB Registration has to co-ordinate and monitor the activities of the SGBs registered within the framework of sub-fields.

In cases where qualifications and standards generated by an SGB are applicable to organising fields and sub-fields beyond those within the framework of which the SGB is registered, SAQA has established mecha- nisms to ensure the availability and ready accessibility of those qualifica-

tions and standards to those fields and sub-fields.

NSB              Organising Field                           Sub-fields

01                      Agriculture & Nature                   • Primary Agriculture

Conservation                          • Secondary Agriculture

  • Nature Conservation
  • Forestry and Wood Technology
  • Horticulture

02                      Culture & Arts                           • Design Studies

  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Cultural Studies
  • Music
  • Sport
  • Film, Television and Video

6                                         A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

NSB              Organising Field                           Sub-fields
03 Business, Commerce and

Management

• Finance, Economic & Accounting

• Generic Management

• Human Resources

• Marketing

• Purchasing

• Procurement

• Office Administration

• Public Administration

• Project Management

• Public Relations

04 Communication Studies & Language • Communication

• Information Studies

• Language

• Literature

05 Education, Training & Development • Schooling

• Higher Education & Training

• Early Childhood Development

• Adult Learning

06 Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology • Engineering and Related Design

• Manufacturing and Assembly

• Fabrication and Extraction

07 Human & Social Studies • Environmental Relations

• General Social Science

• Industrial & Organisational Governance and

Human Resource Development

• People/ Human Centred Development

• Public Policy, Politics & Democratic Citizenship

• Religious & Ethical Foundations of Society

• Rural & Agrarian Studies

• Traditions, History & Legacies

• Urban & Regional Studies

08 Law, Military Science & Security • Safety in Society

• Justice in Society

• Sovereignty of the State

09 Health Sciences & Social

Services

• Preventive Health

• Promotive Health & Developmental Services

• Curative Health

• Rehabilitative Services

10 Mathematical, Physical, Computer & Life Sciences • Mathematical Sciences

• Physical Sciences

NSB              Organising Field                           Sub-fields

…10                                                                  • Life Sciences (see NSB 01 & 07)

  • Information Technology & Computer Sciences
  • Earth & Space Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences

11                      Services                                 • Hospitality, Tourism, Travel, Gaming and Leisure

  • Transport, Operations & Logistics
  • Personal Care
  • Wholesale & Retail
  • Consumer Services

12                      Physical Planning &                    • Physical Planning, Design and Management

Construction                           • Building Construction

  • Civil Engineering Construction
  • Electrical Infrastructure Construction

Standards

The  South African  Qualifications Authority Act  (Act  No.  58  of  1995)

defines unit standards as the:

  • registered statements of desired education and training outcomes and
  • their associated assessment  criteria,  describing  the  quality  of  the

expected performance, together with

  • administrative and other information specified in the NSB regulations

The purpose of a unit standard is to provide guidance to the:

  • Assessor as to the evidence that must be gathered during assessment
  • Learner as to the learning outcomes that must be achieved
  • Provider and/or materials designer as to the learning materials or

learning experiences to be prepared to assist learners in reaching competence.

Qualifications

Learning is recognised when a learner achieves the required number and range of credits at a specific level of the NQF. When a learner meets these requirements, he/she obtains a qualification.

The NSB Regulations (452 of 28 March 1998) describe qualifications as:

  • representing a planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined purpose or purposes, including applied competence and a basis for further learning
  • enriching the qualifying learner by providing status, recognition, cre-

dentials and licensing; it improves marketability and employability; and opens up routes to additional education and training

  • benefiting society and the economy by enhancing citizenship, increas-

ing social and economic productivity, providing specifically skilled and/or professional people, and transforming and redressing past inequities

  • complying with the objectives of the NQF contained in section 2 of the

Act

8                                         A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

  • having both specific and critical cross-field outcomes that promote life- long learning
  • where applicable, being internationally comparable
  • incorporating integrated assessment to ensure that the purpose of the

qualification is achieved; a range of formative and summative assess- ment methods appropriate to the competence being assessed are used

  • providing for the recognition of prior learning, including learning out-

comes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience

Credit system

SAQA uses a credit system based on the idea that one credit equals 10 notional hours of learning, motivated in context in each case.

‘Notional hours of learning’ refers to the learning time that it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined. It includes concepts such as:

  • contact time
  • time spent in structured learning in the workplace
  • individual learning
  • assessment

The Role of SAQA Staff Members in Standards Setting

‘Notional hours of learning’ refers to the learning time that it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined. It includes concepts

such as: contact time, time spent in structured learning in

the workplace,

Director Standards Setting and Development

Head Standards Setting

NSB

co-ordinator

The Director of Standards Setting and Development is responsi- ble for:

  • managing the standards setting system
  • promoting the objectives of the NQF
  • liasing with the Head, Standards Setting
  • communication between the Authority and the NSBs
  • managing the financial and human resources within the direc-

torate

The Head of Standards Setting is responsible for:

  • managing the Division of Standards Setting (DSS) staff
  • establishing and implementing a viable and smooth running

system for standards setting

  • overseeing the management of all NSB activities
  • overseeing the registration of SGBs
  • overseeing the registration of qualifications and standards
  • updating stakeholders involved in standards setting
  • smooth running of the NSBs
  • recommendation of expenditure  of  budgets  within  agreed

guidelines

The NSB Co-ordinator’s role is to assist the deputy directors in framework implementation. This includes:

  • helping to establish registered and accredited bodies according

to the NQF legislation and requirements

  • providing professional support  to  SAQA  bodies  operating within the NQF, including NSBs and SGBs

individual learning and assessment.

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

  • ensuring that members of NSBs and SGBs are knowledgeable with regard to SAQA legislation
  • maintaining proactive communication   between   SAQA, Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQA), NSBs, and SGBs
  • seeking and exchanging information relevant to NQF develop-

ments or fields or sectors

  • keeping and maintaining administrative systems for the specif- ic registered or accredited bodies
  • assisting in the drafting of annual work plans and budgets as well as monitoring the progress made
  • assisting in the registration of qualifications and standards
  • managing the relevant NSB and its activities

National Standards Bodies (NSBs)

NSBs are registered bodies that are responsible for:

  • establishing education and training qualifications and/or standards, and
  • specific functions relating to the registration of national qualifications

and/or standards

Establishment

NSBs are one of SAQA’s institutional pillars, with one NSB established per field and registered by SAQA for a period of three years.

Composition

NSBs are made up of national stakeholders with a key interest in the field. Normally there are 36 members in each NSB. Members are nominated from six stakeholder categories:

  • The State
  • Organised Labour
  • Organised Business
  • Providers of E&T
  • Critical Interest Groups
  • Community/ Learners

Serv. P, M, C

+LS

HS+ SS

pp+ C

L, MS

+S

Agr

+NC

12

Field

NSB’s

H+ SS

Art

+C

C+ SS

B, C, MS

M, E

+T ETD

SGB

S

B

SGB

NSB M, E+T

P L

SGB

C CI

Race and

Gender

10                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

Membership

  • National stakeholder bodies from the six stakeholder categories with a key interest in the organising field are invited to nominate members to serve on NSBs.
  • Nominated persons must:

–  look after issues of productivity, fairness, public interest and interna- tional comparability for education and training

–  enjoy credibility and the respect of the constituency

–  have the necessary expertise and experience in the field, and the sup- port or backing of the nominating body

–  be able to advocate and mediate the needs and interests of all levels within the field covered by the NSB

–  be able to exercise critical judgement at a high level

–  be committed to a communication process between the NSB and the constituency

  • The Authority appoints members after consultation and in co-operation

with the bodies concerned. The need for representation and equity, redress and relevant expertise in terms of the work of NSBs is carefully considered.

Functions

NSBs must:

  • Define and recommend to SAQA the boundaries of the Organising

Field.

  • Define and recommend a framework of sub-fields to be used as a guide for SGBs.
  • Recognise and/or establish SGBs within the framework of sub-fields, and ensure that the work of the SGBs meets SAQA requirements.
  • Recommend the registration of qualifications and standards.
  • Oversee the update and review of qualifications and standards.
  • Liaise with ETQAs through SAQA..
  • Define requirements and mechanisms for the moderation of qualifica-

tions and standards.

Note: NSBs will not generate qualifications and standards themselves. They will oversee these activities at sub-field level.

NSBs must recommend the registration of qualifications and standards to SAQA.

Define and Recommend Boundries of Fields and Sub-Fields

Recognise and/or Establish SGBs; Monitor SGB work

Oversee the Update and Review of Qualifications and Standards

Recommend Registration of

Define Requrements and

Mechanisms for Moderation

Qualifications and Standards

Liase with ETQAs through SAQA

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs)

SGBs are registered bodies responsible for the generation of qualifications and/or standards.

Establishment and Recognition

The recognition or establishment of the SGB occurs within the frame – work of SAQA-accepted sub-fields as described by the NSB. In the case of SGB establishment, the NSB itself initiates the formation of the SGB; in the case of SGB recognition, the initiative to form the SGB comes from the field.

In the case of SGB establishment, the NSB itself initiates the formation of the SGB;

in the case of SGB recognition, the initiative to form the SGB comes from the field.

Composition

The SGB should be made up of key education and training stakeholders in the sub-field, drawn from interest groups and specialists. There should not normally be more than 25 representatives in the SGB.

Nominated persons must:

  • look after issues of productivity, fairness, public interest and interna- tional comparability for education and training in the sub-field
  • enjoy credibility and respect in the sub-field
  • have the necessary expertise and experience in the sub-field, and the

support or backing of the nominating body

  • be able to advocate and mediate the needs and interests of all levels within the sub-field covered by the SGB
  • be able to exercise critical judgement at a high level
  • be committed to a communication process between the SGB, the NSB

and the constituency

Membership

  • Key education and training stakeholder interest groups in the sub-field are invited to nominate members and/or specialists to serve on SGBs.
  • The NSB appoints members after consultation and in co-operation with the bodies concerned [Regulation 22(1)].
  • While expertise is most important, representation, equity and redress in terms of the work of NSBs are important considerations.
  • An organisation or group of organisations wishing to be recognised as an SGB shall establish a discrete group who would function as the SGB.

Functions

An SGB shall:

  • generate qualifications and standards
  • update and review standards
  • recommend qualifications and standards to NSBs
  • recommend criteria for the registration of assessors and moderators or

moderating bodies

  • perform such other functions as may from time to time be delegated by its NSB

Education And Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs)

ETQAs are established by SAQA in each of the sectors described below to

12                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

monitor and audit achievements in terms of national qualifications and stan- dards.

Establishment

An organisation or group of organisations can seek accreditation as an

ETQA in one of the following sectors:

  • A social sector
  • An economic sector [e.g. Sector Education and Training Authorities

(SETAs) and Statutory bodies].

  • An education and training sub-system sector [e.g. Higher Education, General and Further Education and Training and Adult Basic Education and Training].

Composition

SAQA accredits organisations or a group of organisations to act as ETQAs. Members of the ETQA are those people who have been appointed to that body by the organisation or group of organisations that meet the require- ments of the ETQA regulations.

Functions

The function of the ETQA is to:

  • promote quality amongst providers
  • accredit providers for specific qualifications and standards registered on

the NQF

  • evaluate assessment and facilitation of moderation among providers
  • co-operate with relevant Bodies appointed to moderate across ETQAs
  • register assessors for specified registered qualifications and standards in

terms of the criteria established for this purpose

  • monitor the quality of provision
  • take responsibility for the certification of learners
  • maintain an acceptable database
  • submit required reports to SAQA
  • recommend new qualifications and standards to NSBs for consideration,

or modify existing qualifications and/or standards

Powers and Responsibilities

In performing its functions, an ETQA:

  • shall abide by the relevant regulations
  • may delegate selected functions to a provider or other Body with the

prior approval of SAQA; however, it may not delegate its accountabili- ty to SAQA

Note:   The  Skills  Development  Act  of  1998  makes  provision  for  a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to take over the eco- nomic sector ETQA responsibilities for SAQA within 18 months of the SETA being registered. 25 SETAs has been established by the Minister of Labour.

Providers

‘Provider’ means a body that delivers learning programmes focused on the

‘Provider’ means a body that delivers learning programmes focused on the achievement of specified NQF qualifications and standards. A provider also manages the assessment of learning achievements.

STANDARDS SETTING                  T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

achievement of specified NQF qualifications and standards. A provider also manages the assessment of learning achievements.

Accreditation

An ETQA may accredit a body that meets the specified criteria, when an application is received. Broadly, accreditation is concerned with the prospective provider’s capacity and capability to provide.

Broadly, accreditation is concerned with the prospective provider’s capacity and capability to provide.

Criteria for Accreditation

A body may be accredited as a provider when both the ETQA and the provider have the same primary focus. Accreditation also depends on whether the provider:

  • is registered as a provider in terms of applicable legislation
  • has a quality management system
  • is able to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes which lead

to specified registered qualifications and standards

  • has the necessary:

–  financial, administrative and physical resources

–  policies and practices for staff selection, appraisal and development

–  policies and practices for learner entry, guidance and support system

–  policies and practices for the management of off-site practical or work-site components

–  policies and practices for the management of assessment

–  reporting procedures

–  ability to achieve the desired outcomes, using available resources and procedures considered by the ETQA

  • has not already been granted accreditation by or applied for accredita-

tion to another ETQA

Concepts in Standards Setting.

Standards Setting

This section will address the key ideas underlying standards setting, as well as the framework for standards set by the NQF. The key ideas that underlie standards setting are as follows:

An Outcomes-based Paradigm

In the construction of the NQF, outcomes (standards) have been separated from inputs (learning programs). This is illustrated in Figure 1 below:

Qualifications or unit standards embody competence achieved             }

Tighten up

Learning programs will lead to the achievement of competence embodied in the qualification or standard

}      Open up

14                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K          STANDARDS SETTING

Standards setting in this new framework is about the part above the dotted line – the standard.

What lies below the line is largely the business of professional providers and their clients. Of course, this is where the importance of the interactions between the parts of the NQF becomes clear. The provision of quality learn- ing is the business of the framework, and in particular of special quality assurance (QA) structures called Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs), which will be responsible for overseeing this aspect.

But the setting of standards is about outcomes, and this paradigm shift to distinguishing between outcomes and inputs is central to understanding the NQF. Many people still confuse standards with their own learning pro- grams and think that standards setting is about recording or registering their learning programs.

The learning system South Africa is moving towards will not be one in which learning programs are registered on the NQF. Instead, quality will be a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, there will be national standards (qualifications and unit standards) against which learning will be offered, while on the other hand there will be ETQA processes, which will accredit providers who offer this learning. These two processes together will encom- pass quality, and allow for freedom of innovation in the delivery of learning programs.

Setting standards for assessment

Setting standards is a primary tool for ensuring that people are recognised for learning achievements on an objective and transparent basis. By reach- ing agreements as to the standards required, and by communicating these standards to learners, trainers, educators and assessors, we then have a basis for making assessment judgements in a way that is fair, open, reliable and consistent.

Learner-centredness

The focus is on placing learners in the centre of the education and training system and of the proceedings. One of the NQF objectives is to create a sys- tem that would lead to the full personal development of learners. For NSBs, for example, this idea means that in processing applications to register a par- ticular qualification an NSB will have to ask, ‘in whose interests will this qualification be? Does it serve the purposes of learners, or does it merely serve the interests of a group of providers?’ If the answer is that it really serves the interests of providers only, then the decision may well be not to register the qualification.

Democratisation of Learning and Recognition

The setting of standards is about making the creation of knowledge more democratic. The new way of generating standards within the NQF is based on an assumption that the diverse groupings can sit down together, talk rationally about issues broader than their own agendas, and finally come up with social contracts that will build a 21st century system of education and training.

SAQA is largely composed of stakeholder structures. The Authority

itself is made up of representatives of every South African stakeholder in

The new way of generating standards within the NQF is based on an assumption that the diverse groupings can sit down together, talk rationally about issues

broader than their own agendas, and finally come up with social contracts that will build a 21st century system of education and training.

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Education and Training. The NSBs also reflect a new way of operating through partnerships. This constitutes a new set of partners in South African Education and Training. Traditionally, few of these partners have ever sat down and spoken to one another about Education and Training, and yet now, under the auspices of SAQA legislation, these partnerships have become an integral part of the new system.

SGBs are also charged with composing themselves through the forging of partnerships amongst key stakeholder interest groups. Again, this is a

new approach for many of those who will be involved.

One might take this further and say that national standards are the agreed repositories of knowledge about

‘quality practice’ or competence, as well as about legitimate

criteria for assessing such competence.

A framework for standards

What are Standards?

National standards1: can be described as specific descriptions of learn- ing achievements agreed on by all major stake- holders in the particular area of learning. (NSB Regulation 2 provides for the registration of nation- al  qualifications  and  standards.)  As  the  NSB Regulations indicate, “unit standard” means “regis- tered statements of desired education and training outcomes and their associated assessment criteria together with administrative and other information as specified”. National means that the standards have gone through the SAQA registration process. One might take this further and say that national standards are the agreed repositories of knowledge about ‘quality practice’ or competence, as well as about legitimate criteria for assessing such compe-

tence.

Competence:              in  turn,  might  be  defined  as  the  application  of knowledge, skills and values (Regulation 5(1)(a)) in a specific context to a defined standard of per- formance.

Practice:                     could be located in any arena, and involve practi- tioners ranging from the shop floor lathe operator to a professional nurse to an academic historian. In all of these arenas of practice the implicit knowl- edge of what makes for ‘good practice’ or compe- tence needs to be made explicit in the form of national standards.

What are not Standards?

This might seem an unusual question to ask. Its importance lies in the ori- gins of standards in other countries around the world.

1    “Standards” is used here as a generic term covering qualifications, unit standards, and other standards

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Work-based:            When standards first began to gain international prominence, they were largely work-based stan- dards, mostly attached to performance appraisal. Often they were task-based and behaviourist in content, giving priority to observable behaviour at the expense of any underlying characteristics of competence such as knowledge or judgement.

Curriculum standards: Later, in the 1980s, a new form of standard began to appear, a curriculum standard. Most notably, at the end of the decade, New Zealand implemented a qualification framework based upon curriculum standards.

Standards are not:

  • A statement or syllabus topic to be addressed;
  • A course or module;
  • A process, e.g. reading an instrument or preparing equipment for a spe-

cific task;

  • An input, e.g. teaching someone;
  • An activity, e.g. demonstrating something;
  • A learning process, e.g. understanding or applying knowledge;
  • The mastering of a learning objective;
  • A score, grade or percentage; or
  • A specific entity of knowledge or a unit of knowledge as classified in

traditional subject matter syllabi.

In South Africa at least three worlds of practice will want to use national standards:

  • The world of work will want to use standards for a multitude of pur-

poses. These might range from performance appraisal to recruitment cri- teria to career ‘laddering’ to industrial bargaining.

  • The world of curricula will have other agendas altogether. Although

education and training takes place in many places including the world of work, the agenda of the world of work is not an industrial relations agenda, but an educational one. Practitioners in this world require stan- dards against which they can write their curricula.

  • The professional world, in turn, has different needs from the other two

worlds. Professional bodies require standards in order to define what is competent practice so that they can license professionals to practise in South Africa.

Uses of qualifications and unit standards

The primary uses of qualifications and unit standards are as:

  • a guide to learners
  • a guide to educators for the preparation of learning material
  • descriptions of end points of learning (towards which learning should aim)
  • descriptions of what must be assessed, in what contexts, and the stan-

dard of performance required

  • a means of recognising achievements (records of learning and/or com-

The world of work will want to use standards for a multitude of purposes. These might range from performance appraisal to recruitment criteria to career ‘laddering’ to industrial bargaining.

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The assessment methods must be appropriate for assessing the candidate’s knowledge and skills in relation to the benchmarks provided in the qualifications and unit standards.

petence portfolios will indicate what qualifications and unit standards have been achieved by learners)

These primary uses are directly related to SAQA in that the SAQA struc- tures are designed to set up, promote, maintain, and monitor these activities.

Once the outcomes required by the stakeholders have been set in the form of qualifications and unit standards, then it is up to them to use the qualifications and unit standards as a basis for developing people and main- taining and assessing the standards.

Qualifications and unit standards are of primary importance in the development of learning programs and assessment activities. If the titles and specific outcomes are placed in a matrix, these can be used as definitions of what people are expected to know and be able to do at outcome level. Using either a quick skills audit or full assessment of existing competency in rela- tion to the qualifications and unit standards, and combining this with a train- ing needs analysis, the analyst would be able to determine what training is needed among existing personnel. For new trainees, similar procedures could be followed, except that additional analytical tools would be needed to design the learning programme.

Using qualifications  and unit standards for assessment

Assessment activities are designed to gather evidence as to whether a person “is able” in relation to the outcome/s being assessed. Decisions are made regarding the most appropriate forms of assessment relative to the outcomes being tested. As far as possible, assessors will seek to ensure assessment of unit standards and of qualifications is as integrated as possible.

In many cases, assessors will not need to design assessment activities at all, but will be able to simply record naturally occurring evidence of abili- ty. For example, as part of a training course, a trainer (who could also be a registered assessor) might require learners to demonstrate competence in a certain area before moving on to the next step. Such evidence of competen- cy can simply be recorded as part of the learner’s portfolio, and then be pre- sented for credit. Provided the evidence is valid and complies with the other principles of assessment, no further assessment is required.

For successful assessment, the assessor will need to apply a variety of methods of assessment depending on what is being assessed, e.g., on-the- job tests, observation, simulations, written examinations, continuous assess- ment, integrated assessment, portfolios, performance appraisals, self and peer assessment, etc. The assessment methods must be appropriate for assessing the candidate’s knowledge and skills in relation to the benchmarks provided in the qualifications and unit standards.

The assessment model must be able to produce consistent results and valid outcomes for the skills and knowledge being considered. The task of the assessor is to select the most appropriate form of assessment, and design assessment activities capable of gathering evidence relative to the out- comes.

Using qualifications  and unit standards for developing learning programmes

Learning programs are developed and implemented in order to enable peo-

ple to achieve learning outcomes to required standards of performance.

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Learning programs could be of a generic, developmental nature, or could be designed to meet a specific purpose, e.g., to bridge a competency gap, to address a skills deficiency, to teach new systems.

At the risk of stating the obvious, learning programs are designed to address learning needs. The learning need may be seen simply as the gap between desired competence and current competence.

Learning programs are designed based on the inputs required to achieve certain learning outcomes. Input decisions need to take into account a host of factors such as target population, prerequisite learning, sequence of learn- ing, methods and media.

It is possible that different learners might need different types of learn- ing experiences to be able to achieve the same qualifications and unit stan- dards, depending on a variety of factors such as prior knowledge, previ- ous learning experiences, cultural background, availability of technology, learning context, etc. Indeed, it may be desirable to design the learning programme in such a way that the individual learners have choices, but the same outcome and standard of performance is attained and measured at the end.

Other uses of qualifications and unit standards

Organisations may, however, attach other uses to qualifications and unit standards registered on the NQF. Examples of other uses are: competency- based remuneration (CBR), recruitment, job profiling (JP), performance management (PMS), promotion, career pathing and licensing. It should be emphasised that while qualifications and unit standards registered on the NQF will be useful to facilitate all the above, these are not SAQA or relat- ed uses, and will rather be internal/organisational uses.

Uses of Unit Standards and Qualifications

Performance

Management

Job Profiling

Competency

Career pathing       Recruitment

Licensing

Internal  HR applications

SAQA and SD-related uses

Unit Standards

and Qualifications

Internal  HR applications

SAQA and SD-related  uses

Learning

Competency gap

Certification

Learnership

Programmes

Assessment

or Record of

Learning

It should be emphasised that competence management is not the same as performance management. The NQF is about competence management, i.e., the NQF provides us with the means to describe the competence required (qualifications and unit standards) and the means of measuring this compe-

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tence (assessment). People who achieve a unit standard or a qualification are therefore considered competent in terms of that unit standard or qualifi- cation. They are capable of performing to a required standard. This does not necessarily mean that people will perform at their level of competence in the workplace – hence the need for supervisors and managers and performance management systems.

Perhaps one of the single greatest challenges facing a South African national qualifications framework is the following. If standards come to be written exclusively in any one of these worlds, then they will not be appli- cable to the other two worlds, and the country will end up with three sepa- rate frameworks. In other words, if standards are written as curricula, they will not necessarily be useful for designing performance appraisal systems. Similarly, if standards are written as performance appraisal, they may well not be suitable for professional usage. In other words, standards must be generated in such a way that they will act as an anchor to which these three

worlds can tie the design of their own practices.

The world of curriculum

Qualifications

& Standards

The world of work

Figure 2.

The world of proffessional practice

Figure 2 illustrates this concept in graphic form. The standards in the centre act as the anchor to which the other three worlds tie the design of their prac- tices. This formulation assumes that a layer – design – lies between the stan- dards and the world of practice. Professional curriculum experts will use standards to design curricula, but the standards themselves are not curricu- la. Professionals in the world of work will use standards to design work- based programs, but the standards are not these programs; professional bod- ies will define their licensing requirements against standards, but the stan- dards are not themselves licensing prescriptions.

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Respective Roles and Functions of NSBs and

SGBs

Introduction

In section 2, we pointed to the two main functions of SAQA:

  • standards generation and registration, and
  • quality assurance

It is our intention in this next section to focus on standards generation. Of

importance here will be the relative roles of NSBs and SGBs.

Serv. P, M, C

+LS

HS+ SS

pp+ C

L, MS

+S

Agr

+NC

12

Field

NSB’s

H+ SS

Art

+C

C+ SS

B, C, MS

M, E

+T ETD

SGB

S

B

SGB

NSB M, E+T

P L

SGB

C CI

Race and

Gender

System and Structure

As shown in the drawing above, there are 12 Organising Fields. For each, there is an NSB to represent the interests of the field in the generation and recommendation for registration of qualifications and unit standards. NSBs are essentially stakeholder groupings with specific expertise play the role of wise elders, and cannot expect to have all the required and expertise to gen- erate standards for every sub-field. It is important that the 6 stakeholders – State, Business, Labour, Providers, Community and Critical Interest Groups

– are represented in NSBs.

SGBs are recognised by the NSB as sources of expertise in sub-fields. They are not necessarily representative of the 6 stakeholder groupings, but rather of the subject matter expertise in the area as well as a vision of a transformed education and training system. It is the intention that SGBs themselves have the relevant expertise to complete the actual task of stan- dards generation.

The section below focuses on the roles of NSBs with respect to SGBs and the role of the SGB.

National Standards Bodies (NSBs)

Because NSBs recognise and/or establish SGBs, and are ultimately respon- sible for the standards submitted and recommended, it is important to have

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some understanding of the role and functions of NSBs in relation to those of SGBs. The general composition, membership and functions of both bod- ies have been outlined in the previous section. NSB Regulations published on 28 March 1998 governs NSBs in detail].

Key Roles of NSBs in Relation to SGBs

The National Qualifications Framework offers an opportunity to enhance the quality of education, training and assessment in South Africa.

The  quality  assurance  system  that  SAQA will  manage  through  its

National Standards Bodies (NSBs) and Education and Training Quality

Assurance bodies (ETQAs) includes:

ETQAs will be accredited by SAQA in economic, social, or education and training sub-system sectors to ensure that providers in those sectors have the capacity and capability to deliver learning programmes towards the achievement of registered qualifications and/or standards.

The Registration  of Qualifications and Standards

Registration occurs to ensure that the standards and qualifications that are registered are relevant, up to date and acceptable to major stakeholder and user groups.

To this end, the NSB will ensure that:

  • the proposals for qualifications and unit standards meet the NQF’s trans- formational objectives of access, portability, and articulation as well as the other technical requirements for registration,
  • all consultation-process requirements have been met, and

qualifications and standards are registered

SGBs will be recognised and/or established by NSBs to:

  • undertake the generation  of  qualifications  and  standards  including processes designed to consolidate the range inputs of the many qualifi- cations and standards generation processes underway in South Africa,
  • initiate qualifications and standards generation within the framework of

sub-fields, and

Accreditation of Providers

ETQAs will be accredited by SAQA in economic, social, or education and training sub-system sectors to ensure that providers in those sectors have the capacity and capability to deliver learning programmes towards the achieve- ment of registered qualifications and/or standards.

Moderation of Assessment

To ensure consistency in the assessment of registered qualifications and standards, organisations accredited to act as ETQAs, for example the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) set up in terms of the Skills Development Act of 1998, will:

  • devise assessment plans and suggest moderation options in that sector
  • register the (workplace)  assessors  who  will  implement  the  sector’s

assessment plans

Quality Audit

ETQAs will ensure the effective performance of overall systems for the management of quality.

This manual focuses on the requirements and criteria which SGBs will

apply in co-ordinating standards generation in South Africa preparatory to

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presenting them to NSBs for pre-registration endorsement.

The design, recording and registration of qualifications and standards are discussed in the next section of this document.

Guiding Principles for NSBs and SGBs in Setting of

Standards

2.1. Consultation: NSBs, and their SGBs, must consult widely with
those who have an interest in their area.
2.2. Relevance: Qualifications and standards must be relevant to
the requirements and needs of all their users.
2.3. Transferability: NSBs and their SGBs must promote the recognition
of transferable skills to assist learners who may
need to change their learning or career direction.
2.4. Efficiency and
Accessibility: NSBs and their SGBs must set and maintain stan-
dards, and wherever possible keep costs down.
2.5. Innovativeness: Standards generation is a dynamic process. NSBs
and their SGBs must accommodate innovation that
derives from changing technology, new products,
services,  markets,  skills  and  knowledge  in  their
specialist areas.
2.6. Broad Focus: NSBs and their SGBs must consider the impact of
their planned outputs on all levels of the NQF.
Although the focus of an SGB’s standards genera-
tion may be at a particular level, the implications
for all levels must be considered.
2.7. Minimal
Duplication: It is a fundamental principle of the NQF that every
qualification and standard will be unique. If a stan-
dard is to be used in several qualifications, the
NSBs and users concerned must agree on its form,
and not create their own versions.

The bodies responsible for setting NQF standards are involved with the fol- lowing:

Standards generation is a dynamic process. NSBs and their SGBs must accommodate innovation that derives from changing technology, new products, services, markets, skills and knowledge in their specialist areas.

Generation of Standards – Stages in the Process

NSBs will oversee the generation and registration of standards in the organ- ising field for which they are responsible. The locus of standards generation will be in broadly representative SGBs. The NSBs will undertake the rec- ommendation of standards. In the case of both standards generation and reg- istration, SAQA’s full-time NSB Co-ordinators facilitate the process by pro- viding the administrative support necessary for both NSBs and SGBs to complete their work to SAQA’s schedules.

The standards setting process proceeds through three separate stages.

Stage 1 – Analysis and Planning

  • Each NSB will monitor SGB activities to ensure that the skills and knowledge required in its field is captured.

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  • NSBs will then develop a plan which will include a:

i   Description of how Unit Standards will be developed

ii  List of the number and type of qualifications and standards that will be developed

iii List of immediate priorities

iv Timetable for the generation of qualifications and standards and the phasing out of any old or redundant qualifications.

Stage 2– The Development  of qualifications and standards

  • Each NSB will co-ordinate the development of its qualifications and standards by recognising SGBs which must:

–  Adopt , adapt or originate standards in a sub-field, or

–  Facilitate the consolidation of existing standards and/or qualification generation processes in the sub-fields for which it is responsible.

  • Where no standards generation processes are underway, NSBs, through

the appropriate SGB, will commission the adoption, adaptation or gen- eration of qualifications and standards.

Stage 3 – Quality Assurance

  • Each NSB will:

i   Propose the quality assurance system requirements for the quality of learning delivery and the assessment it will require for its qualifica- tions and standards

ii  Endorse accreditation and moderation proposals from ETQAs (under the guidance of SAQA)

  • Each NSB will  continuously  and  systematically  review,  revise  and

update the qualifications and standards in the organising field for which it is responsible.

  • To ensure that the quality of qualifications and standards in the NQF

remains high, SAQA will audit the standards setting work of each NSB

and SGB.

The following flow diagram summarises the steps above.

  • Monitor SGB

NSB

NSB: Calls for a Plan;

monitors progress on the

NSB

  • Conduct analysis
  • Verify skills and knowledge included for field

NSB

  • Develops plans for:

how to develop US and Qualifications;

number and type; priorities; timetable

NSB

  • Accept proposals for assessment and moderation criteria from SGBs and rec- ommended these to SAQA Register standards and qualifications

Plan

NSB: consolidates the vari- ous standards generating processes.

Commissions standards in

“gap” areas

Review,revise,and update standards

  • Capture skills and knowl-

edge for field

NSB

  • Generate standards

NSB

  • Submit for standards and qualifications registration
  • Disband on completion of brief

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Generating Registered Standards: NSBs AND SGBs

In the national standards setting process, NSBs and SGBs will have definite roles. The roles are clearly linked in that the SGB ëresponds’ to an NSB role.

The discrete roles are outlined in the table below:

The NSB…                                           In response, the SGB…

1    Ensures that plans for standards development are agreed with SAQA.

2    Scrutinises proposals for registration and recycles or submits

3    Recommends criteria for assessment and moderation for quality delivery in consultation with SAQA.

4    Regularly reviews its qualifica- tions and standards

  • Develops a plan for standards generation, which should include schedules.
  • Co-ordinates standards generation through generating qualifications and standards.
  • Presents a proposal for standards to users in narrow consultation process.
  • Submits to NSB as proposal for registration.
  • Develop criteria for moderation and assessment for standards and qualification that will used by ETQAs.

Performance Requirements of NSBs and their SGBs

NSBs are appointed by SAQA to recommend the registration of standards and qualifications. In the context of each of the activities NSBs will need to undertake to achieve this objective are a range of tasks which will need to be performed by SGBs. The outcomes of SGB activities in relation to NSB tasks are described here.

NSB Task 1:    Establish and/or recognise SGBs

In responding to this NSB task, the SGB will have to satisfy the NSB in these key areas:

  1. Does the prospective SGB fall within the NSB scope?

SGBs will need to examine the defined scope of the NSB’s field. Once this has been done, the SGB’s task of locating its place in the NQF system should be relatively straightforward. While SAQA has published a list of sub-fields for all 12 NSB.

  1. Is the prospective SGB properly formed?

Once identified, the SGB should be formed in terms of SAQA’s guidelines and criteria, and a chairperson should be elected.

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iii.   Is there support for the SGB ?

An SGB should demonstrate support within the sub-field to generate stan- dards and qualifications.

  1. iv. Are the SGB processes aligned with those of the NSB?

The SGB endorses (and recommends) the NSB process it will use to devel- op qualifications and standards proposals and secure the support of users.

NSB Task 2:  Agree with SAQA a plan for qualifications and standards development

and

In responding to these tasks, an SGB must reassure the NSB that the skills and knowledge analyses that foreshadow standards development adequately cover the sub-field for which the SGB is responsible.

The SGB should present a detailed plan that shows how the entire development process will be completed.

NSB Task 3:  Ensure Skills and Knowledge Analyses completed to requirement.

In responding to these tasks, an SGB must reassure the NSB that the skills

and knowledge analyses that foreshadow standards development adequate- ly cover the sub-field for which the SGB is responsible. The SGB should present a detailed plan that shows how the entire development process will be completed.

SGBs are not responsible for a sub-field. They are responsible for the generation of qualifications and standards as stated in their different briefs. The project plan that an SGB proposes must include at least:

  • a list of priorities
  • a development timetable, and
  • a list of trends, and training gap

In respect of the standards writing process, the following issues should be addressed in the plan:

  1. Plans for the process of standards generation:

The plan should include:

  • Information that standards writers will need, such as:

–  needs-analysis outcomes, and

–  how the SGB will go about generating the standards

  1. Plans for the production of the standards title matrix:

The process the SGB intends to follow for co-ordinating the generation of a standards titles matrix must be clearly articulated.

  1. Evaluation of the standards titles matrix:

Plans must make provision for establishing and using a consultative net- work for inputs and proposals around qualifications and standards already undertaken in the sub-field. This input is key to the evaluation of the matrix.

  1. Standards writing:

The plans will outline the process for the generation of standards by the writers.

  1. Recommendation to NSB for registration:

The plan will outline the process to be followed for the submission of stan- dards to the NSB for recommendation to SAQA.

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A similar process will need to be followed in respect of qualifications, with the addition of a plan for confirming the transition arrangements from cur- rent qualifications to new.

NSB Task 4:  Specify Quality Requirement for Delivery of Standards.

In response to this NSB Task, the SGB should present a plan to the NSB that recommends how the NSB will, in co-operation with providers and SAQA (or its ETQA functionaries):

  • Check on the quality of standards; and
  • Maintain the integrity of the standards in their delivery.

Plans should include at least a plan for:

  1. The development of appropriate systems of assessment ii. The moderation of assessments

iii.  The accreditation of providers

NSB Task 5:  Promote qualifications  and standards.

Each SGB should produce a plan showing how the qualifications and stan- dards developed by the NSB will be promoted to users, including: state departments, economic and social sectors, providers of education, training and assessment services, businesses and learners

NSB Task 6:  Review qualifications  and standards

NSBs should present SAQA with regular scheduled reports of progress in:

  • qualifications and standards development and uptake by users
  • the implementation of quality assurance plans
  • the promotion of qualifications and standards

The reports should also include a listing of amendments, updates complet- ed and reviews undertaken of qualifications and standards.

To ensure that NSBs and SGBs function as required, SAQA should agree to a plan for the regular quality audit of NSBs and SGBs by inde- pendent auditors appointed by SAQA for the task.

Identification  and appointment  of SGBs by NSBs

The process of registering an interest in becoming an SGB.

Step 1:        An interested group completes the form (attached in Appendix

3) and sends it to SAQA. Documents supporting the applica- tion are included.

Step 2:        The NSB Co-ordinator considers the details. Major stakehold- ers are consulted to ensure other significant players in the sub- field are not excluded.

Step 3:        The NSB meets with the applicants and other interested parties to ensure the roles and responsibilities of an SGB are clearly understood and acceptable.

Step 4:        A more detailed application is lodged with the NSB.

Each SGB should produce a plan showing how the qualifications and standards developed by the NSB will be promoted to users, including: state departments, economic and social sectors, providers of

education, training and assessment services, businesses and learners

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Step 5:        The application is Gazetted and publicly advertised over a 30- day period. Other interested parties are encouraged to consult with the applicant through the NSB Co-ordinator attached to the NSB. An example of such an application is included below:

STAATSKOERANT, 24 DECEMBER 2000                           No. 20751 17

No. 808          25 June 1999

PUBLIC NOTICE BY NSB 11, SERVICES, OF AN APPLICATION TO REGISTER AN SGB FOR HYGIENE AND CLEANING SERVICES

NSB 11 has received an application to recognise and register an SGB for Hygiene and Cleaning Services.

Proposed Brief of the SGB

  1. Develop learning pathways for potential qualifications and unit standards in Hygiene and Cleaning

[Regulation 24(1)(e)].

  1. Generate the following qualifications in accordance with SAQA requirements for NQF levels 1, 2, 3 and

5 in support of the learning pathways in 1 above:

  • National Certificate in Hygiene and Cleaning Services – Level 1
  • National Certificate in Hygiene and Cleaning Services – Level 2
  • National Certificate in Hygiene and Cleaning Services – Level 3
  • National Diploma in Hygiene and Cleaning Services – Level 5 [Regulation 24(1)(a)].
  1. Recommend the qualifications and standards generated in 2, above, to NSB 11 (Services) [Regulation

24(1)(c)].

  1. Recommend criteria for the registration of assessors and moderators or moderating bodies

[Regulation 24(1)(d)].

  1. Perform such other functions as may from time to time be delegated by NSB 11 (Services) [Regulation

24 (1)(e)].

List of Names and Organisations

COMPOSITION OF THE SGB

The NSB Co-ordinator in consultation with the applicant rec- ommends other interested parties either join the applicant or become part of a consultative network.

Step 6:        The application is formally considered by the NSB and the out- come is recommended to SAQA.

Step 7:        The NSB recommendation is endorsed by SAQA and the NSB appoints the new SGB. The new SGB then becomes the body with which the NSB works to set and maintain standards with- in the specialist area defined in the application. An example of this gazette notice is included on the following page:

In order to accomplish the above…

…The NSBs will need to examine applications against a set of criteria. The document in the next section provides the basis for such an examination.

Functioning of an SGB

One of the biggest challenges facing SAQA, and indeed the whole national skills  development  process  as  described  in  the  SAQA  and  Skills

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Development Acts, is that of affordability. Different models must be con- sidered to determine the most viable model. Failure to do this could result in the collapse of the system.

Critical Steps

Although there are two different routes to appointing an SGB, the essential steps – or what needs to be done – are the same. These steps are listed below, not necessarily in chronological order:

Conduct a scoping exercise:

This important first stage establishes the boundaries for the sub-field and provides the focus for standards generation and the design of qualifications. It also enables proper timelines and project costing to be developed.

Conduct an outcomes analysis of the system:

Work processes and/or roles are examined and all the knowledge and skill requirements captured.

Describe a titles matrix:

The Titles Matrix is an overview of the sub-field expressed in terms of the outcomes required of people working and acting in the field. This matrix will vary from one SGB application to another.

Secure stakeholder participation:

Participation is not only a cornerstone of SAQA’s approach, but essential if the relevance of qualifications and standards is to be ensured.

Secure appointment as SGB:

This stage is essential if standards are to be registered and nationally accepted.

Develop a business plan:

The process of standards generation must be systematic and controlled. This is important to control both cost and time taken in generation, as well as to avoid duplication of effort.

Grow the capacity of participants:

It is important that standards generation processes are not the preserve of the few, but that participation of the group is informed and meaningful. This will almost certainly imply formal training for most in what is a new area of expertise.

Generate qualifications and standards:

Using what is readily available is an important principle for effective use of resources.

Critique emerging unit standards:

While many SGBs will use skilled writers from amongst the ranks of the SGB to formulate what the group decides, it is important that the whole group is able to participate meaningfully in the quality assurance process.

One of the biggest challenges facing SAQA, and indeed the whole national skills development process as described in the SAQA and Skills Development Acts, is that of affordability. Different models must be considered to determine the most viable model.

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Submit qualifications and standards for recommendation:

The NSB is the body that recommends the qualifications and standards to

SAQA for registration on the NQF.

Options for consideration

The reality of standards generation in South Africa is that there are many different approaches and initiatives in existence. SAQA’s challenge is to integrate these without wasting effort already expended or compromising quality. The following approaches are possible for SGB work:

  1. SGB Recognition 2. SGB Establishment

A group sends a letter of intent for recog-

nition as an SGB

The NSB identifies areas in which SGBs are required

SAQA holds a preliminary discussion with the group and sends an application form

to the group

Six to eight recognised leaders are identified in each area

The group completes the application form

and submits it to SAQA

A meeting of the leaders is convened to develop a pre-

liminary brief for an SGB

The application is scrutinised in terms of

NSB-agreed and SAQA criteria for NSB

plans for the field

SAQA publishes an advertisement in the national press, on the SAQA web site and amongst constituencies with the

brief and an invitation for CVs and to a stakeholder meeting

The application is sent to the NSB sub- committee for SGB formation

The stakeholder meeting is convened based on the CVs submitted, the brief is refined, criteria for membership are

discussed and a steering committee is appointed

The NSB subcommittee considers the

need for a meeting with the applicant

The steering committee completes the application form

and submits it to the NSB co-ordinator

The NSB subcommittee requests a meet- ing with the applicant (where necessary) for mapping of the field and provision of

direction to the applicant

The SGB brief and membership is finalised, and submit- ted for publication

The applicant submits a revised applica-

tion (where relevant)

The SGB brief and membership is published in the

Government Gazette for public comment

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The NSB co-ordinator prepares the SGB brief and composition for publication in the Gazette, and submits it to the NSB subcommittee and the Head of Standard Setting, who submits it to the Director of the Directorate for Standard Setting and

Development

Public comment is received, a report compiled and these recommendations sent to the NSB SGB subcommittee and the SGB steering committee

The SGB brief and composition is pub- lished in the Government Gazette for pub-

lic comment

The SGB steering committee incorporates the public comment and compiles a report on how the comment has

been accommodated

Public comment is received, a report com- piled and these recommendations sent to the NSB SGB subcommittee and the SGB

applicant

The SGB applicant incorporates the pub- lic comment and compiles a report on how the comment has been accommo-

dated

The NSB co-ordinator submits a revised SGB brief and membership to the NSB SGB subcommittee

The NSB SGB subcommittee prepares a report and makes a recommendation to the full NSB

The NSB approves the SGB

SAQA publishes the registered brief and composition of the SGB in the Government Gazette and on the

SAQA Web site, for notification

Implications of the options

For SAQA as an institution:

As a general principle, SAQA will encourage as much initiative from the field as possible. To make this possible, SAQA will adopt a highly efficient service orientation and be ready with:

  • advice,
  • capacity building, and
  • pro forma examples

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SAQA’s purpose will be to guide and facilitate the process of recognition of SGB’s. Building capacity will be a key concern. Of particular importance will be the:

  • training of people to work with and generate standards
  • training in and assistance with project management
  • actual writing of the standards from the information supplied by subject

matter experts in the sector

  • critiquing of emerging standards for internal coherence and quality control

Whether the SGB is formed via a fast tracking or general recognition route for purposes of recognition by an NSB, or via an NSB route (that is, through establishment by the NSB), once formed it operates as a legal, independent

entity with its own unique identity according to criteria laid down in the NSB Regulations.

Of the Fast-track Recognition Approach:

This model has a number of advantages if properly managed. Not the least of the advantages would be to encourage the proactive effort of those who have attempted to implement the Acts without coercion. The advantages would include:

  • existing work rooted in practice and developed for ëreal’ needs
  • much of the expensive analysis and writing time paid for
  • existing capacity and a ëcase study’ in the sector
  • fewer, shorter and more effective SGB meetings

Of the General Recognition Approach:

The process usually begins with a champion in one of the organisations with- in a grup of organisations in a sector. The advantages of this approach are:

  • the sector has a momentum, for whatever reason, and this is likely to

facilitate the entire formation and generation process

  • the task of including stakeholders, which can otherwise be costly, is done in the field through existing contacts
  • the preliminary analysis and scoping would also be carried out in the field
  • the SGB can decide on the working groups that are ëfit for purpose’ in

and across the various sectors

  • the SGB will investigate external funding options (including SAQA)

open to it

SAQA will examine business plans carefully to ensure that:

  • sectors receive and act on good advice
  • genuine capacity building takes place
  • expensive meetings are kept to a minimum, and that they are all work-

ing meetings with clear and attainable objectives funding is realistic without being crippling.

Of the Establishment Approach:

The advantages are that:

  • strategic areas can be addressed directly
  • qualifications and standards can readily be aligned with the SAQA

vision

  • SAQA can manage the process from the beginning. Disadvantages and challenges will include the realities that
  • this option is dependent on SAQA funding; and
  • this approach will stretch NSB capacity from a resources perspective.

Purpose of this explication

What this section has attempted to do is to outline the basic differences

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between SGB recognition and establishment as these processes (are likely to) play themselves out in reality. The intention is neither to convey that the ulti- mate beneficiaries of the first two approaches outlined are the specific insti- tutions or sectors which initiate SGB formation nor that SGB recognition cannot come about except through an fast tracking approach or a the gener- al recognition approach. Rather, SGB recognition is rooted in and derives from a context which influences how an SGB is formed. Whether the SGB is formed via a fast tracking or general recognition route for purposes of recognition by an NSB, or via an NSB route (that is, through establishment by the NSB), once formed it operates as a legal, independent entity with its own unique identity according to criteria laid down in the NSB Regulations.

Conclusion

The challenge is to devolve functions as quickly as possible. This implies proper planning, capacity building and quality assurance. The next part of this paper will focus on the process for appointing SGBs.

SGB Applications – Process and Criteria

I

n this section we outline the process and criteria for SGB applications. SAQA developed a detailed document, which can be obtained from the Directorate Standards and Development that spells out how organisations can apply. There is also a SGB Application Pack to assist prospective SGB

applicants.

Process for SGB Establishment

When the establishment of the SGB is a SAQA initiative, the following process

– outlined in the flow diagram below – is an abbreviated form of the process

SAQA will follow. The complete version is in the SGB Application Pack.

  1. Convene one-day meeting of ‘experts’ in the sub-field to develop a preliminary brief for the SGB
  • Identify expertise in sub-field
  • Write to meeting, clearly outlining role of

group

  1. Advertise brief and call for stakeholder participation in meeting to refine brief and discuss membership criteria
  • Publish in national press
  1. Publish SGB brief and composition for public comment in Government Gazette and on SAQA web-site
  • Consult affected constituencies, and finalise SGB membership

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  1. Register SGB • NSB appoints SGB members
  • NSB publishes SGB membership and

convenes first meeting of SGB

  1. Ensure that the work of the SGB meets

SAQA requirements

  • Monitor SGB against monitoring proce- dures developed by the NSB
  1. Dissolve, de-register or extend brief of the SGB
  • Dissolve when brief is fulfilled
  • De-register for inadequate performance

and/or inability to fulfil its brief

  • Extend the brief of the SGB

Process for SGB Recognition

When the initiative for the SGB comes from an enterprise or a sector, then SAQA will go through a process to recognise the SGB. The process for recog- nition outlined in the flow diagram below is an abbreviated form of the process SAQA will follow. The complete version is in the SGB Application Pack.

  1. Submit letter of intent and application for SGB recog- nition to SAQA.
  • Answer via relevant NSB Co-ordinator
  • The NSB Co-ordinator communicates to NSB sub-

committee for SGBs

  1. NSB Sub-committee for SGBs considers need for meeting with potential SGB applicant to discuss fit with NSB scope.
  • Applicant may meet NSB sub-committee for SGBs, at which time:

– SGB proposal is aligned with NSB plans for SGBs in the sub-field.

– Sub-committee advises SGB on next steps.

  1. The SGB applicant revises its application.
  • Revision of completion of ‘Application for Recognition as an SGB’ form in terms of NSB Regulations and

‘Criteria for the Registration of SGBs’

  1. The NSB Co-ordinator receives and processes application for SGB status.
  • Screened vis-á-vis initial conversation and the NSB Regulations.
  • Checked against issues of expertise and the require- ments of equity and redress.
  • Presented to the Director : Standards Setting and

Development for screening.

  • Gazetted.

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  1. The application does not conform to requirements.
  • Should the application not pass the screening, the originators of the application will be contacted and further information and direction made available to them.
  1. The application conforms to requirements.
  • Application is matched to NSB Regulations and all other specifications
  • Gazetted via the Executive Officer’s office.
  1. Gazette the application for comment and consider adjustments.
  • NSB SGB sub-committee and SAQA office consider changes to the SGB application.
  • Changes are communicated to applicant.
  1. Forward comments to the

NSB.

  • NSB Co-ordinator forwards public comment to NSB, SGB applicants, and the Director: DSSD, with a rec- ommendation.
  1. Forward finalised SGB

application to SAQA office

  • Include on the agenda of the next NSB meeting
  1. Accept or reject the appli- cation.
  • Decision based on the proposal of the NSB sub- committee for SGBs.
  1. Publish the final composi- tion and brief of the SGB
  • Published in the Government Gazette for public notification.
  1. Ensure that the work of the SGB meets SAQA requirements
  • Monitor against criteria for the registration of qualifi- cations and standards as determined by the Authority (regulation 19(1)(d), NSB Regulations and against monitoring procedures developed by the NSB.
  1. Dissolve, de-register or extend the SGB
  • dissolve on fulfilment of its brief
  • de-register for inadequate performance and/or

inability to fulfil its brief

  • extend the brief of the SGB

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SEND APPLICATIONS TO:

Director: DSSD Postnet Suite 248

Private Bag X06

WATERKLOOF, 0145

MARKED:

Standards Generating Body

Application

Attention: Head, Division of

Standards Setting

Guidelines for the application to become an SGB

The criteria to be used in considering applications for SGB recognition include:

  • Name of SGB.
  • Organising field.
  • Sub-field(s).
  • Names of qualifications or standards to be generated.
  • Projected time to generate qualifications and standards.
  • Outline of the process for forming the SGB (including the consultation

and negotiating process).

  • Supporting documentation.
  • Representivity of members on the SGB in terms of gender and race.
  • Details of credibility of the SGB with regard to experience, expertise

and respect in the sub-field.

  • List of members to form the SGB and their stakeholder interest groups

(including brief CVs of members).

  • Business Plan (which should include communications and marketing strategy, budget and timeline) and indication of funding possibilities.
  • Declaration: (we hereby accept that a decision of SAQA is final and binding, after an appeal has been heard by the Authority):
  • Declaration of understanding that the SGB shall dissolve on completion of its brief:
  • Date of application.
  • Name of authorised person submitting the application.

NSB DECISION

The NSB will base its decision to accept or reject the application on the information supplied. It will then authorise the SGB to perform the follow- ing functions:

  • To develop learning pathways for potential qualifications and standards

for…

  • To generate standards and qualification on levels…
  • To recommend these standards to the NSB
  • To recommend criteria for the registration of assessors and moderators

or moderating bodies.

  • To update and review standards as required.
  • To perform such other functions as may be required from time to time

by the NSB.

In the event that the application is not recommended, the reasons and/or recommendations will be provided

Generating Standards and Qualifications.

I

n this section we elaborate the definitions of standards and qualifications and give an indication to the reader what is required when generating

standards and qualifications.

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What is a Unit Standard?

A unit standard can be described as a set of registered statements of desired education and training and their associated assessment criteria, together with administrative and other information.

In other words, a unit standard is an end-statement of the achievement of a certain competence, as well as being a building block for possible qual-

ifications.

Definition:

A unit standard is a document that describes:

  • a coherent and meaningful outcome of learning (title) that we want recognised nationally,
  • the smaller more manageable outcomes that make up the main outcome

(specific outcomes),

  • the standards of performance required as proof of competence (assess- ment criteria), and
  • the scope and contexts within which competence is to be judged

The information on the following pages must be specified for every unit standard:

Parts of a Unit Standard

  1. Unit standard title

Form:

  • The title of the unit standard is unique
  • That is, the title is different from any other title registered on the NQF.
  • The title provides a concise yet comprehensive and pointed indica-

tion of the contents of the unit standard.

  • The title contains a maximum of 100 characters including spaces and punctuation.
  1. Unit standard level
  • The level assigned to the unit standard is appropriate in terms of the complexity of learning required to achieve the standard (as described in SAQA’s Level Descriptors).
  • The level is appropriate in relation to the learning pathway/s within

which the unit standard is located.

Note: Fundamental or Core standards in particular may form part of many different learning pathways.

  1. Credit attached to the unit standard
  • The definition of a credit is that 1 credit = 10 notional (assumed)

hours of learning.

  • The credit assignment  reflects  the  average  length  of  time  the average learner might take to complete the learning leading to the achievement of the standard.
  1. Field and sub-field of the unit standard
  • The Fields of Learning have been indicated in Part 3, and the possible sub-fields in Appendix B.

A unit standard can be described as a set of registered statements of desired education and training and their associated assessment criteria, together with administrative and

other information.

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  • Unit standards must be located within the sub-field and organising field.
  • Where there is more than one sub-field or organising field to which the standard might apply, this must be clearly indicated and justified, either here or in the brief of the SGB that generated the standard.
  1. Purpose of the unit standard
  • The format of entries under the heading Purpose follow on from the statement:

‘Persons credited with this unit standard are able to…’

The Purpose of a unit standard includes its specific outcomes togeth- er with a concise statement of the contextualised purpose of the unit standard and what its usage is intended to achieve for:

– the individual

– the field or sub-field

– social and economic transformation

  • These entries are phrased as:

Verb + object + modifying phrase(s) (if required)

Example:

‘Analyse and determine remedial action for continuous production process problems’

  • The purpose statement succinctly captures what the learner will know and be able to do on the achievement of the unit standard.
  • The sub-outcome entries are ‘bulleted’ for easy reading purposes.

Example:

‘Analyse remedial action for …’

‘Determine the …’

  1. Learning assumed to be in place
  • There is a clear relationship between the credit value of the standard and the learning assumptions.
  • [This is the learning assumed to be in place if the learning required to achieve the standard is to be completed in the assigned credit time]
  • The statement captures  and  reflects  the  knowledge,  skill  and understanding ‘building blocks’ which are assumed to be in place and which support the learning towards the achievement of the unit standard under consideration.
  1. Specific Outcomes
  • The format of entries under the heading Specific Outcomes follows on from the statement:

Persons credited with this unit standard are able to:

and these entries are phrased as:

Verb + noun + modifying phrase(s)

Example:

‘Describing how information technology can be integrated into adult basic education and training’

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  • There are usually between 4 and 6 specific outcomes.

[More than six may indicate that there is more than one purpose that the standard is trying to address. Fewer than four may indicate that the purpose of the unit standard is too narrow].

  • The specific outcomes together reflect and capture the purpose of

the unit standard in ways that are measurable and verifiable.

  • The specific outcome statements focus on competence outcomes and avoid describing specific procedures or methods used in the demonstration of competence. This ensures that unit standards:

– have broad and inclusive applicability

– avoid frequent review and overhaul because of procedural or

methodological shifts in tendencies

– focus on competence outcomes for learning and performance, not descriptions of tasks or jobs

  • The specific outcomes avoid evaluative statements where possible. [Statements reflecting the quality of performance are located in the assessment criteria].
  1. Assessment criteria
  • The format of entries under the heading Assessment criteria follow on from the statement:

We will know that you are competent to…

[insert specific outcome]

if or when…

[insert assessment criterion]

  • Where there is a product, the assessable or measurable criteria for the product may include:

– accuracy

– finish / presentation

– completeness (written information)

– legibility (written information)

– clarity (written / spoken information)

– availability for use / location

  • Where work organisation / work role is critical the assessable or

measurable criteria for the way work is carried out may include:

– time / speed / rate

– schedule

– procedures involving processes or methods

– cost effectiveness

– user specifications or needs

– optimisation of resources

– health and safety

– hygiene

– confidentiality / security

– dress / appearance

– language and behaviour

– creation and maintenance of effective relationships

  • The criterion statement sets the guidelines for developing particular

assessment tasks at learning programme or services level rather

than reflecting check lists for one or more assessment instruments.

The specific outcome statements focus on competence outcomes and avoid describing specific procedures or methods used in the demonstration of competence.The specific outcomes avoid evaluative statements where possible.

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  • The criteria capture the requirements for fair, valid and reliable assessment procedures that make use of tools and methods appropriate to the organising field, sub-field, level, category and the unit standard being registered.
  • The assessment criteria  capture  the  underlying  and  embedded

knowledge base that allows the learner to reflect achievement of the unit standard (through the reflective and repetitive application of that knowledge, skill, ability and value achievement within a range of contexts).

  • The assessment criteria must be sufficiently transparent to ensure

ease of understanding across a range of learning providers, learning

services and learners.

The assessment criteria must be sufficiently transparent to ensure ease of understanding across a range of learning providers, learning services and learners.

  1. Range statements
  • The range statements  relate  directly  to  specific  outcomes, assessment criteria or even the standard.

Note: Not all specific outcomes or assessment criteria require range statements.

  • There must be a clear relationship between range statements, the

specific  outcomes,  the  purpose  of  the  unit  standard,  and  the assessment criteria delineated for the unit standard.

  1. Notes
  • This category contains:

– General Notes

– Critical cross-field outcomes as well as

– Embedded knowledge.

Embedded Knowledge:

  • The format of entries follows on from the statements:

– I/Learners can understand and explain…

– I/Learners can apply…

and these entries are phrased as

Noun + modifying phrase(s)

Example:

‘Integration of information technology and adult basic education and training’

  • Where there is an embedded knowledge section it comprises a statement of the knowledge base required for competent performance and achievement of the unit standard, representing what the learner has to understand and be able to explain in the area (sub-field) at the particular level.
  • The embedded knowledge statement includes demonstrations of

knowledge of the classificatory systems operating in the area and at

the level of the unit standard.

Example:

Understanding of the Linnaean classificatory system in the identification of plants and animals.

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Critical Cross-Field Outcomes:

  • Critical Cross-Field Outcomes  are  in  a  ‘matrix’  format  that indicates how each outcome is addressed in the standard. The matrix captures the relationship of the purpose, specific outcomes, and embedded knowledge to the critical cross-field outcomes.

The Critical Cross-Field Outcomes are the following:

  • identifying and solving problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made
  • working effectively with others as a member of a team, group,

organisation, community

  • organising and managing oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effectively
  • collecting, analysing,   organising   and   critically   evaluating information
  • communicating effectively using  visual,  mathematical  and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written persuasion
  • using science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others
  • demonstrating an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
  • contributing to the full personal development of each learner and

the social and economic development of the society at large, by making it the underlying intention of any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:

– reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more

effectively;

– participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities;

– being  culturally  and  aesthetically  sensitive  across  a  range  of social contexts;

– exploring education and career opportunities;

– developing entrepreneurial opportunities

General Notes:

  • The general notes act as a range statement for the whole standard. They include:

– definitions of terms

– legislation and regulations

– general information of value to assessors and learning providers

What is a Qualification?

A qualification can be defined as a planned combination of learning out- comes with a defined purpose or purposes, intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning.

Two types of qualification are provided for in the NSB regulations. One is based on exit-level outcomes and associated assessment criteria, while the

other is a qualification based on unit standards. Both are equally valuable;

A qualification can be defined as a planned combination of

learning outcomes with a defined purpose or purposes, intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a

basis for further learning.

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the onus is on the designers of the qualification – in consultation with rele- vant stakeholders – to decide which type of qualification best fits the pur- pose for which it is being designed.

Another key to defining a qualification – as opposed to a unit standard

– is credit size:

‘A total of 120 or more credits shall be required for registration of a qualification at levels 1 to 8, with a minimum of 72 credits being obtained at or above the level at which the qualification is registered (RSA, 1998)2’.

What information should a qualification contain?

Two types of qualification are provided for in the NSB regulations. One is based on exit-level outcomes and associated assessment criteria, while the other is a qualification based on unit standards. Both are equally valuable;

the onus is on the designers of the qualification – in consultation with relevant stakeholders – to decide which type of qualification best fits the purpose for which

it is being designed.

A Qualification Title

The title should provide a brief indication of the contents of the qualifica- tion and has to be unique – that is, different from any other title registered on the NQF.

Qualification type

Three aspects should be specified:

  • Name, band, and level: for example, Further Education and Training Certificate, Level 3; or First Degree (by definition Higher Education and Training [HET] band), Level 6.

A National First Degree carries a credit weighting of 360 or more credits, with at least 72 credits at or above level 6. It should also satisfy both the requirements for the registration of qualifications outlined above and the criteria delineated in the level descriptors for the level at which the Degree is registered.

  • Area of practice: for example, HET Certificate, Level 5, Nursing; or,

First Degree, Level 6, Human & Social Sciences.

  • Specific purpose: for example, HET Certificate, Level 5, Nursing, Midwifery; or, Masters Degree, Level 7, Mechanical Engineering, Structures.

Relevant field/s and sub-field/s

The plural use of the terms above should make it clear that any qualifica- tions may be relevant in more than one field or sub-field.

Credits required

Two issues need to be addressed here:

  • Total credits required for the award of the qualification and the mini- mum and maximum number of credits at various levels.
  • Credit specifications in the categories fundamental, core and elective – which the NSB Regulations define as follows:

“Fundamental learning” means that learning which forms the ground- ing or basis needed to undertake the education, training or further learning required in the obtaining of a qualification;

2    RSA (1998a). “Regulations under the South African Qualifications Authority Act. 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995)” Government Gazette No. 18787 (28 March). Pretoria Government Printer.

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“Core learning” means that compulsory learning required in situa- tions contextually relevant to the particular qualification; and

“Elective learning” means a selection of additional credits at the level  of  the  National  Qualifications  Framework  specified,  from which a choice may be made to ensure that the purpose of the quali- fication is achieved.

Purpose

This is a concise statement of the purpose of the qualification. It should address the following questions:

  • What value has been added to the qualifying learner in terms of enrich-

ment of the person through the provision of status, recognition, creden- tials and licensing; enhancement of marketability and employability; and opening up of access routes to additional education and training?

  • What benefits are provided to society through enhancing citizenship,

increasing social and economic productivity, producing specifically skilled and/or professional people, and transforming and redressing legacies of inequity?

  • In what way does the qualification address the objectives of the NQF?

LEVELS

There is not a great deal of difference between allocating levels to qualifications based on exit-level outcomes or to qualifications made up of unit standards.

  • Qualifications based on exit-level outcomes

At what NQF level does the most advanced exit-level competence seem to reside?

  • Qualifications based on unit standards

Here the consideration is based on a mix of two factors: at what level do the unit standards reside; and at what level does the process of integrating the overall outcomes seem to reside?

For more details regarding levels, please see the SAQA draft document ‘Towards the Development of Level

Descriptors: A Guide for Writers of Standards, Unit Standards, and Qualifications’, available from the SAQA office or in SAQA Bulletin 2.1 (1998), on the SAQA web-site under ‘Publications’.

NQF Levels 1-4

FUNDAMENTAL,  CORE AND ELECTIVE LEARNING

  • The qualification category Fundamental must contain a minimum of 20 credits from the field of

Communication Studies and Language, and a minimum of 16 Mathematical credits.

  • The categories Core and Elective must between them contain a minimum of 52 credits: a minimum of 36 credits at level 1 and 52 at levels 2-4 between core and electives [Regulation 9 (1)(b)]
  • NQF Levels 5 – 8

The number of credits required for Fundamental, Core and Elective learning must be specified, with reasons provided for number and distribution.

  • Qualifications based on unit standards

It is fairly common to confuse the above three categories of learning with the notions of compulsory and optional. The following example may help to address this confusion: an SGB may prescribe certain unit stan- dards in a qualification as compulsory, which span the fundamental, core and elective categories of learning.

Exit level outcomes

This category must capture the planned combination of learning outcomes –

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both specific and critical – that are required for competence at the particular level of qualification. Specific outcomes are those that are specific to the qualification’s purpose.

A qualification should ideally provide learners with manifestations of all the critical cross-field outcomes. How this is achieved within the qualifica- tion needs to be explained (in other words, it is insufficient to merely tick off the outcomes). Should it be inappropriate for the qualification to cover

certain critical outcomes, a motivation to this effect should be provided.

A qualification should ideally provide learners with manifestations of all the critical cross- field outcomes. How this is achieved within the qualification needs to be explained (in other words, it is insufficient to merely tick off the outcomes). Should it be inappropriate for the qualification to cover certain critical

outcomes, a motivation to this effect should be provided.

Learning assumed to be in place

This is a statement that captures the learning base required for learning or achievement within the parameters of the particular qualification being reg- istered.

Often confused with prerequisites, ‘learning assumed to be in place’ is not meant to fulfil a ‘gate-keeping’ function with regard to programs. Rather it is a mechanism for transparency – allowing learners to know what knowl- edge, skills and attitudes are reasonably assumed to be in place prior to their embarking on learning programs against particular qualifications. Nothing in this category precludes the recognition of prior learning.

Integrated assessment

At qualification level, integrated assessment criteria relate to the demon- stration of achievement of the qualification.

This is a set of statements that provide the guidelines for developing particular assessment tasks, at learning, programme or services level. The guidelines must allow assessors to develop formative and summative meth- ods related to credentialling purposes appropriate to contextual and situa- tional readings of candidates presenting themselves for the recognition of learning achievements. In addition, the criteria should allow for a range of assessment methods being used in assessing achievement in the learning programs.

  • The criteria must capture the requirements for fair, valid and reliable

assessment procedures that make use of tools and methods appropriate to the organising field, sub-field, level, and qualification being registered.

  • The assessment criteria should allow the candidate to reflect achieve-

ment through the use of integrative assessment methods and criteria which ensure that both the purpose and the achievement of the qualifi- cation are able to be met across a range of contexts and circumstances, reflectively and repetitively.

  • Specific and particular statements of the assessment criteria should be

transparent and ensure ease of understanding across a range of learning providers, learning services and learners.

Criteria for the registration of assessors

This category will additionally contain criteria for the registration of inter- nal and external assessors in the sub-field.

Moderation options

These will include the recommendation of moderation mechanisms, as well as of a moderating body or bodies. Such mechanisms and bodies must meet

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the requirements for transparency, affordability and development of the field, sub-field and framework. NSBs and SAQA will have to ensure coher- ence and the avoidance of duplication across moderation criteria, bodies and mechanisms.

Articulation possibilities

Two types of articulation may be specified:

  • Specific: where agreements or accords are in place that grant recogni- tion of credit from one qualification to another, or part of another, these should be noted.
  • Generic: where the achievement of this qualification opens up possibil-

ities for further learning or credit recognition, these possibilities should be noted.

The differences in format between qualifications based on unit standards and qualifications based on exit-level outcomes in the submission for regis- tration should be noted. Formatting of qualifications based on unit standards requires the addition of a twelfth category to the eleven outlined above.

Rules of Combination

The category entitled Rules of Combination either specifies or is a function of the titles of the unit standards according to the appropriate categories (fundamental, core and elective) for which credit is required before attain- ment of the qualification. Rules of Combination will be drawn from SGB and NSB recommendations according to the level and band of learning within which the qualification falls.

It should be noted that a qualification submitted for registration would not have to specify all the unit standards which would eventually ensure achievement of the qualification. Only those standards that are prescribed would be specified – others may be left up to the discretion of the provider or the learner.

SAQA additions to qualification submissions for registration

On registering a qualification, SAQA will add two further categories to the information listed:

Issue Date

This is the date on which the Authority registers the qualification on the NQF. It acts as the benchmark date against which providers will be evaluat- ed and registered according to the requirements for quality learning pro- grams and services and the assessment of achievement as captured and reflected in the qualification.

Review Date

This reflects the period of time for which the registered qualification will be operational and before which a review and re-registration has to take place.

The review period is currently set at three years, with applications for re-registration being due in the first half of the third year of registration. SAQA’s own internal systems will be used to alert NSBs to those qualifica- tions which are due for review and, therefore, those qualifications and/or

standards generating processes which have to be reactivated.

NSBs and SAQA will have to ensure coherence and the avoidance of duplication across moderation criteria, bodies and mechanisms.

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Funded by the European Union under the  European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

SAQA: FETC Policy document

FETC Policy document

Download a copy of the policy from the SAQA website here:
http://saqa.org.za/show.php?id=5412

Executive Summary
Principles
  1. Each full qualification registered at Level 4 on the National Qualifications Framework will be called a Further Education and Training Certificate and shall conform to the broad requirements recommended in this document.
  2. A registered FETC may be constructed from unit standards or it may be registered as a whole qualification, i.e. not constructed from unit standards, in accordance with the requirements of the NSB regulations 8(4).
  3. The primary purpose of the Further Education and Training Certificate is to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values that will enable meaningful participation in and offer benefits for society as well as providing a basis for continuing learning in higher education and training, and enable learners to be productive and responsible in the workplace.
  4. Each FETC will provide access to various learning pathways, both vertical and horizontal. The scope of access provided by each FETC will be determined by the qualification itself. The underlying principle in the design of an FETC then must be that the qualifying learner has the learning assumed to be in place to embark upon the study of qualifications at a higher level or at the same level but with a different focus, and that through the acquisition of the FETC, a viable learning pathway is created. This underpins the concept that qualification design must favour the principle of ‘dove-tailing’, i.e. exiting from one qualification must lead directly to entry to one or more qualifications at the same or higher level of the NQF.
  5. Each FETC will constitute a minimum of 120 credits with a minimum of 72 credits being obtained at or above level 4 and in the case of certificates of 120 credits, a maximum of 48 credits being obtained at level 3. In keeping with section 8(2) of the NSB regulations, a qualification consisting of less than 120 credits may be considered if it meets the requirements in regulation 8(1) and complies with the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework contained in section 2 of the Act.

5.1 The 20 compulsory credits in Language and Communication must be obtained in one of the eleven official languages provided for by the SA Constitution of 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) at level 4. All holders of an FETC will have achieved the same outcomes as indicated by the 20 compulsory credits but these may be achieved in any one of the eleven official languages.

5.2 To address the need to develop citizens who can participate effectively in a multi-lingual society, a further 20 credits in Language and Communication must be obtained in a second official language at a minimum of level 3. All holders of an FETC will have achieved the same outcomes as indicated by the 20 compulsory credits but these may be achieved in any one of the eleven official languages.

5.3 The 16 credits in Mathematics must be obtained at level 4. The Mathematics outcomes as indicated by the 16 credits may be obtained in different contexts.

  1. Proposers of a qualification can designate specific areas of study or credits as compulsory within that qualification.
  2. Integrated assessment needs to be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment shall use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations.
  3. In their submissions, proposers of a FETC must indicate in the rules governing the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recognition of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learning outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience. It will be necessary to spell out the criteria for awarding the qualification (or part of it) through RPL.

Discussion
  1. Process for the development of the principles governing the development of Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) qualifications

1.1 The legal responsibility of SAQA as per the SAQA Act No. 58 of 1995

The functions of the Authority as per the SAQA Act, No. 58 of 1995 are as follows:

The Authority shall

  • Oversee the development of the NQF.
  • Formulate and publish policies and criteria for
  • The registration of bodies responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications;
  • The accreditation of bodies responsible for monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of such standards or qualifications.
  • Oversee the implementation of the NQF including
  • Registration or accreditation of bodies referred to above and the assignment of functions to them;
  • The registration of national standards and qualifications;
  • Steps to ensure compliance with provisions for accreditation;
  • Steps to ensure that registered standards and qualifications are internationally comparable.

1.2 The Regulations for National Standards Bodies (NSBs) and for Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs)

Among the functions of NSBs as listed in the Regulations are the following:

  • Ensure that the work of Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs) meets the requirements for the registration of standards and qualifications as determined by the Authority;
  • Recommend the registration of standards on the NQF to the Authority;
  • Recommend the registration of qualifications to the Authority;
  • Update and review qualifications;
  • Liase with ETQAs regarding the procedures for recommending new standards and qualifications, or amending registered standards and qualifications.

Among the functions of ETQAs as listed in the regulations is the following:

  • Recommend new standards and qualifications to NSBs, for consideration, or modifications to existing standards or qualifications to NSBs for consideration.

In accordance with the Act and the regulations, SAQA through the NSB-SGB structures is responsible for the registration of qualifications. Furthermore the NSBs have the function of liasing with ETQAs regarding the procedures for recommending new standards and qualifications, or amending registered standards and qualifications. Quality Assurance bodies are responsible for assuring the quality of these qualifications. Through liaison with the NSBs they have a direct role to play in recommending new standards and qualifications as well as modifications to existing standards and qualifications to NSBs for consideration. The ETQA structures then are not legally in a position to assume responsibility for recommending standards and qualifications to SAQA, as this is clearly the responsibility of the NSB-SGB structures.

1.3 The development of principles governing the structure of FETC qualifications

In the case of the FETC and GETC, there is likely to be a range of recommendations for such qualifications which cut across all NSBs and SGBs and which attempt to fulfil a variety of needs within the education and training sector at these levels. Provision includes learners in formal schooling, technical colleges, ABET, out-of-school youth programmes and the learners within learnerships and skills programmes of the Department of Labour either at formal training centres or at workplace-based training centres.

The NSB regulations provide very general direction in respect of the structure of these qualifications. However, discussions at the NSB level indicate that further guidance and clarity is needed.

In accordance with the regulations, the bodies responsible for recommending standards and qualifications to the Authority are the NSBs. However, as mentioned above, these qualifications cut across all NSB fields and across a variety of contexts of education provision, and since NSBs and particularly SGBs could be regarded as having sectoral interests, it has been suggested that they are inappropriate structures to make such broad recommendations. Clearly, since SAQA has the responsibility for the development of the NQF, it is appropriate that it oversees the development of the minimum requirements and guiding principles for FETC qualifications.

SAQA undertook this task through a process of narrow consultation with national stakeholders and a process of wide consultation through the publication of a discussion document for public comment. The final date for comment was 27 September 2000.

In the narrow consultation process the following submissions for the FETC were received at the SAQA office:

  • Department of Education: National Curriculum Framework for Further Education and Training (May 2000)
  • SAFCERT: How do we move from the current Senior Certificates to the FETC? Dr Peliwe Lolwana
  • Department of Labour: Proposal for Learnerships and the proposed Learnership Regulations
  • The Matriculation Endorsement and the restructuring of the Senior Certificate: Report of the SAUVCA Task Team.

Submissions were received from the following organisations as a result of the public comment process:

  • Higher education sector

Council for Higher Education
Committee of Technikon Principals
South African University Vice Chancellors Association
Potchefstroom University
Witwatersrand University
University of Pretoria
University of Stellenbosch
UNISA
Rand Afrikaans University

  • Schooling sector

NAPTOSA
SAOU
Western Cape Education Department
KwaZulu-Natal: Examinations Directorate

  • Private Providers sector

APPETD
National Private Colleges

  • Other

National Board for Further Education and Training
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
COMTEC
Chair: SGB Office Administration

  1. Deficiencies within the current system at the Senior Certificate level

The Department of Education discussion document on FET highlights some of the deficiencies in the current system as follows (page 5):

  • A separation of theory and practice, giving rise to irrelevant programmes that fail to meet the needs of learners and the changing demands of the economy and society, hence contributing to high levels of unemployment;
  • Poorly articulated FET programmes and qualifications for technical colleges and high schools that inhibit learner mobility across programmes and providers/learning sites;
  • Programmes differ widely with respect to quality, standards of provision, outcomes and curricula thus affecting equivalence and portability; and
  • Learners exiting the system and having to repeat passed subjects when they re-enter the system, lead to high levels of inefficiency.
  • Exemption requirements.

It is these deficiencies and other problems that exist in the education and training system that the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework are trying to address. More specifically it is these problems that are being addressed in the principles governing the development of FETC qualifications.

  1. Purpose of the Further Education and Training Certificate

The NSB regulations stipulate that any qualification registered on the NQF ‘is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning’.

The Report of the Ministerial Investigation into the Senior Certificate notes that the Senior Certificate serves three different purposes, failing to achieve any of them successfully. It serves as a school leaving certificate but is not attained by the majority of learners who leave school. It serves as a university screening mechanism but is only effective as a predictor of success among high scoring students. It serves as an employment screening mechanism but does not address work-related competences and is not perceived by employers as a particularly good indicator of success (1998:10).

In the Department of Education FET discussion document (page 2), the following comment is made: The new system seeks to foster intermediate to high level skills; lay the foundation for entrance to higher education; and facilitate the transition from school to work.

There are two threads that are incorporated in this statement of purpose, i.e. to provide qualifying learners with applied competence to facilitate the transition from school to work and to provide qualifying learners with a basis for further learning. Applied competence means the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

On the one hand, the purpose of equipping learners with knowledge and skills that will enable participation in continuing learning in higher education and training implies the acquisition of a diversity of skills. This then impacts on the size, the level of complexity and the range of competencies that the qualification is likely to incorporate. Dr Lolwana terms this a ‘neat for purpose’ qualification – its breadth makes it a neat, ‘catch-all’ qualification. Alternatively, this concept is incorporated in the concept of the ‘exchange value’ of the qualification – its diversity gives it broad exchange value, enabling participation in a wide range of learning and qualifications. Even though the qualification may not be specifically related to any one occupation or job of work, the development of the ability to handle volumes as well as diverse and complex tasks would be expected in a working situation.

On the other hand, a qualification that enables learners to embark upon a productive and responsible role in the workplace, is likely to be more specific in its range of competencies and to have less diversity in its skills and knowledge. It is very focussed, encouraging the development of in-depth skills and knowledge in a given area. Dr Lolwana terms this as a ‘fit for purpose’ qualification. Alternatively, this concept is incorporated in the ‘use value’ of the qualification – its specificity makes it immediately useful in a specific context.

It is important to note that the intention is that all FETC qualifications must enable progression along a valid career path and hence they should enjoy equal social value.

In reality then there will be FETC qualifications which spread across a spectrum from more diverse to more specific. The tension then lies in trying to hold both purposes i.e. use value and exchange value, within a single qualification designation. The question becomes: At what point does diversity become so great that the ‘use value’ of the qualification is lost? Or: At what point does the specificity of the qualification become so closely defined that the ‘exchange value’ of the qualification is lost? In other words, as Dr Lolwana asks: How does one create two kinds of qualifications that are equal? ‘Equal’ here has the specific connotation of usefulness for purpose and social recognition and encapsulates the real challenge for the NQF: The extent to which a single framework can hold both kinds of qualifications.

One could argue that two issues need consideration to ensure ‘equal’ recognition of qualifications. The first issue is the set of rules that govern the structure of the qualification, i.e. the rules of combination. These rules however need to be flexible enough to accommodate the different emphases described above, but at the same time ensure that the qualifications are given equal status within society. The second issue is the political and authoritative decision about the acceptability of the qualification to enable learners to access further learning. This issue goes to the heart of the NQF and its objectives of promoting life-long learning.

The purpose for FETC qualifications incorporates a statement about the social purpose of these qualifications: to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values that will enable meaningful participation in and offer benefits for society.

This emphasises the fact that the NQF is a social construct, intended to serve the social needs of the South African society as well as the economic needs of the society and the needs of each individual. The values espoused by the Constitution cannot be ignored by the education and training system of this country.

  1. Admission, access, selection and placement in higher education: endorsement requirements

One of the major problems identified in the current Senior Certificate system is the system of endorsement requirements that need to be met in order to gain entry to university education.

4.1 Problems with the current system

The argument for instituting this system is that it is a means of identifying those learners who through the achievement of the Senior Certificate with endorsement, are more likely to succeed in their studies. In this way, valuable resources are not wasted on learners who are unlikely to succeed. Furthermore learners who do not achieve the endorsement requirements are identified as unlikely to be successful, and are thus protected from wasting valuable time that could have been spent more positively elsewhere. These requirements are general and apply to all potential university entrants, regardless of the particular course of study they may intend to follow. It could be argued that they are intended to identify so-called ‘high flyers’, i.e. those with the potential to succeed in a university environment – a test of potential success rather than a test of achieved learning outcomes.

An examination of the endorsement requirements suggests that those learners who wish to attend university, should follow a particular curriculum i.e. the endorsement requirements indicate certain subject combinations and particular grades at which these must be studied. Presumably these requirements exist to ensure that potential university learners study a programme which develops particular skills that are needed for success at university level. Hence once the endorsement requirements have been met, the successful learners are deemed to be adequately prepared for embarking upon a university education.

While research supports the contention that the Senior Certificate with endorsement identifies learners likely to succeed at university for those learners with aggregate scores at the top end of the scale i.e. A, B or C aggregates, the picture is less clear with learners who have aggregates below a C symbol. Indications are that many of the learners who have attained a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement still fail at the university level, with first year drop-outs and failure rates being the highest. It would appear then that success at the tertiary level is not dependent on perceived academic ability alone. In addition experience with a number of alternate admission procedures indicates that there are learners who have not achieved the exemption requirements but who have succeeded at the tertiary level, thereby supporting the probability that the current set of exemption requirements is not a reliable indicator of success in higher education.

The high drop-out rate among first year students also suggests that the preparation as evidenced in the curriculum which is dictated by the endorsement requirements, may not be sufficiently appropriate to develop the skills that are necessary for success in academic study at a university. An added problem is that a large percentage of learners at the Senior Certificate level follow a curriculum that is geared towards the fulfilment of the endorsement requirements. If the learner does not achieve the endorsement requirements, the curriculum that has been followed is not especially appropriate for study at other kinds of tertiary institution nor the world of work.

In 1999 only 12% of all Grade 12 candidates who offered the Senior Certificate qualified for entry to universities, i.e. achieved the Senior Certificate with a matriculation endorsement. This percentage does not take into account the high drop-out rates lower down in the system. When these are considered it is closer to 6% of learners who should be in that school leaving cohort that gained a Senior Certificate with exemption. A closer consideration of that cohort indicates an even smaller percentage of learners had Mathematics (either at functional, standard or higher grade) within their qualifying subject package.

The SAUVCA report (page 1, par. 1.2.2) also indicates that success in respect of attainment of the Senior Certificate with endorsement starkly reflects the apartheid legacy, reflecting the conditions of learning and teaching more profoundly than student ability or potential.

While the points already made are pertinent reasons for reviewing the Senior Certificate with endorsement as a means of identifying learners who can proceed with university study, it is useful to establish the significance of the effect of the system of endorsement requirements on a society committed to promoting lifelong learning.

On one hand, the message of the system is clear, i.e. a cohort of learners have been assessed and some are considered to have the necessary ability to succeed in university education. The question must be asked however, as to what the less obvious message is that society is being given through the application of this system. For the learners who do not achieve a Senior Certificate with endorsement, the covert message is that because the indicated requirements have not been achieved, the learner is to all intents and purposes, not capable of continuing study of an academic nature. This coupled with the second veiled message is devastating for any society that is trying to promote lifelong learning among its citizenry. The second veiled message is that further education is divided into two parts: higher education through a university and higher education through some other institution or workplace. Because there are minimum requirements for entry to the university system, society has the perception that ‘clever’ people go to university and the rest go elsewhere. This has the net effect of encouraging learners from an early age to strive for entry to university in order to achieve societal acclamation whether such education is appropriate for them or not. Furthermore it has the effect of detracting from the value of learning achieved at any other site of learning in the higher education and training band.

Furthermore, this system means that the vast majority of the population is not encouraged to pursue further studies. Little opportunity is created within the working world for the attainment of skills that are recognised by traditional institutions of higher education for entry to higher education. School leavers who do not achieve the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement are expected to achieve a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement before they can consider progressing along a learning pathway in the university sector. Those who pursue studies in other higher education institutions receive limited recognition for their achievements should they wish to enter the university system. Not only does this system encourage education elitism, it is wasteful in that learners repeat areas of study because previous achievement is not recognised. It deters rather than encourages learners who do not have the spare time or resources to spend on studying subjects that do not appear to have any immediate or practical relevance, and which in fact do not necessarily in themselves guarantee success in further study.

The Report of the Ministerial Investigation into the Senior Certificate recognises that the matriculation endorsement requirements provide coherence to the Senior Certificate curriculum. However this coherence relates to qualifications for access to universities but not to higher education in a broader sense. They are not designed to create coherent qualifications for access to careers. Furthermore, they do not provide mechanisms for lateral movement, only vertical movement (1998:13). South Africa’s education and training reforms since 1995 have emphasized that learning is not restricted to formal education institutions and hence higher education must be taken in its broadest sense and not restricted to universities alone.

It is in this last point in the history of the matriculation endorsement requirements that the concept becomes questionable as an appropriate tool in the South African context. As Dr Lolwana points out: the endorsement questions have to do with what is considered to be important for university entrance and who has made that decision.

The current system then of entry to university education being permitted primarily on the attainment of a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement is one that inhibits rather than promotes lifelong learning. It is encouraging to see that within the university sector, there appears to be general support for revising, and possibly loosening the requirements for university entrance, making the existing endorsement requirements simpler and more flexible. This suggests that there is a recognition that the current system and requirements may be inappropriate.

If one accepts that this system needs revision, the need arises for the establishment of a system that does promote lifelong learning and validates learners’ achievements irrespective of where the learning has been gained.

4.2 Considerations in establishing a different system

The existence of the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement system suggests that there is a point at which a learner can be deemed ready for higher education. In NQF terms this point is the Further Education and Training Certificate. An outcomes-based system which acknowledges the need to openly state the learning assumed to be in place before commencement of study towards a particular qualification stands in opposition to such a notion. In other words, the concept of endorsement requirements poses a problem for the NQF in that it identifies learners for further study on the basis of criteria that may not relate directly to the verifiable competencies that have been achieved and are necessary for further study. Rather it identifies broader learning outcomes that have little or no relationship to the actual experience of the learner or the course of further study that the learner wishes to embark upon. The aggregate requirement illustrates the point well: it does not give any indication of potential or achievement of a learner within a specific area of study. Hence a good science student may be denied access to higher education because of poor performance in the language areas of study (there is a requirement that two languages must be offered at the higher grade level) and this may have affected the aggregate score negatively. Others will argue that the aggregate is an indicator of general ability (i.e. success across a number of disciplines) and in that light is a valuable indicator of success. Again this is only guaranteed in the higher categories. The emphasis on achieving these broader generic outcomes whether at national, regional or institutional level, begins the process of establishing ‘glass ceilings’ while at the same time its reliability and validity are questionable.

One question for those who are looking at the introduction of a different system at this level is the issue of differing levels of social acceptance but more importantly, the establishment of glass ceilings by institutions or groups of institutions indicating that entrance to that level of learning is subject to the achievement of only certain kinds of FETC and not others, as is the current situation in respect of the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement.

SAUVCA has made a useful distinction in the use of the terms admission, access, selection and placement. Access and admission operate at the systemic level and are concerned with minimum entry requirements, with admission implying possible screening mechanisms. Selection operates at the institutional level and is concerned with mechanisms to select a specific number of learners from those who have already met access and admission criteria. Placement operates at the level of programmes and hence is field and/or qualification specific. It may be useful to introduce an additional notion for the term ‘access’ and that is the notion of learning assumed to be in place to enable engagement with a particular course of study.

Current discussions within the university sector suggest that ‘coarse’ selection processes could still serve as admission guidelines or indicators to universities, rather than being a statutory requirement (par. 41). A movement away from the concept of endorsement requirements for university entrance has been suggested in the Report of the Ministerial Investigation into the Senior Certificate. It raises the question whether additional requirements should be left to individual institutions or faculties. This, however, poses the possibility of encouraging the establishment of academically elitist institutions who select learners on an arbitrarily determined set of criteria.

However, one must be aware that unless a system adequately addresses the sectoral needs of society’s institutions, there is the very real danger of parallel systems being introduced to address what is perceived as neglected needs. Parallel systems that are perceived as necessary serve only to undermine rather than build a new system. Hence it is critical that sectoral needs are taken seriously and addressed appropriately or acknowledged as not needing specific attention.

It is crucial to discuss the concepts of admission, the expanded notion of access, selection and placement. These related concepts are fundamental in opening up a system and the introduction of regulations in respect of these two concepts could well be real creators of social barriers and glass ceilings.

The concepts of admission, i.e having the right of entry for commencement of study, selection, i.e. admission to a specific institution and placement, i.e. admission to a particular course of study, must be separated. It is current and past practice for the fulfilment of admission criteria to be prerequisites for selection and placement.

In the past, the demand for admission to institutions exceeded the number of places that were available at institutions of tertiary study, hence it was argued, there was a reason for endorsement criteria for university study, which resulted in the exclusion of some applicants. As stated previously, these criteria are largely based on general achievement and not on achievement of specific outcomes of learning within a particular field of learning.

The availability of alternate sites of learning has become a reality in South Africa – distance education, e-learning and learning in alternate learning sites, e.g. formal schooling, technikons, technical colleges, community colleges, workplace training centres, etc. Hence it is becoming less likely that learners will be prevented from learning because of a limited number of places at university institutions. In fact, the number of applications for entry to tertiary institutions in general has dropped, indicating either that learners are not continuing their education or that learners are seeking alternate sites of learning to formal tertiary institutions. The assumption that learning only happens in fulltime instruction in formal institutions of learning is being challenged by the marketplace, where learners are choosing other routes to advance their studies.

Given this scenario, it is essential to promote access to further learning by clearly identifying the learning that needs to be in place to continue studying even within the workplace. It is worth noting that the emphasis in learnerships, a learning initiative of the Department of Labour, is on workplace training and the practical application of acquired skills and knowledge. Between 30% and 70% of the credits for a qualification must be attained within a practical or work-based context. It has been suggested that 70% of what is taught at university is in fact professional training (doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, architects, etc) and over 90% of what technikons do currently is para-professional. The point is that there should be pathways from traditionally vocational work-based learning, such as the traditional apprenticeships and the new learnerships, to para-professional and professional learning opportunities – without having to go back and acquire a certificate of general education before proceeding.

The point of this discussion is that where admission to an institution of formal study was a prerequisite for continuing one’s education in the past, this additional barrier to learning is becoming less and less of an issue. The barriers now are posed not necessarily by admission but access: What is the learning assumed to be in place before study at the next level can be undertaken by a learner with any realistic hope of success? Other factors e.g. costs, the necessity to find work to support a family, are more pressing barriers to continuing fulltime learning in a formal institution. These factors in fact encourage the exploration of different possibilities.

The discussion in this paper opens up the following scenario: learners exist across a spectrum from those whose site of learning does not favour practical or ‘hands-on’ experience but encourages the abstract development of concepts (so-called ‘head skills’) to those whose site of learning does not favour the abstract development of concepts but rather focuses on the development of practical skills (so-called practical or vocational skills). One feature of the current system is that there is a separation of theory and practice, giving rise to irrelevant programmes that fail to meet the needs of learners and the changing demands of the economy and society, hence contributing to high levels of unemployment. This is exacerbated by the existence of poorly articulated FET programmes and qualifications for technical colleges and high schools that inhibit learner mobility across programmes and providers/learning sites (DoE FET document).

In the case of the former set of students the reality is that they hold qualifications that enable admission to a wide variety of options for further study, but are unable to do any specific job of work. Often the skills they have developed are so ill-defined or vague that the ‘use’ value of the qualification is questionable. In the case of the latter, the reality is that the skills of the learner are so specific and devoid of application in the abstract that success and admission to further study is extremely limited. The broader skills needed for embarking on further study in a related field are often absent, making the ‘exchange’ value of the qualification questionable.

The true test for standards setters in South Africa and for the quality assurance systems that are put in place is to ensure that the gap between the ‘use’ value and the ‘exchange’ value of a qualification is minimised. The test is to find the requirements that are necessary to ensure that the multiple pathways to further education and training which accommodate these two different aspects, are developed. Furthermore, as Dr Lolwana points out, ‘the most important element is to ensure that all stakeholders agree on these requirements and that there is a periodic review of how the nation is doing and whether or not further modifications are required’. In addition, the principle of transparency of access requirements to a qualification is a fundamental principle of the NQF.

Given the objective of the NQF to facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths, SAQA is concerned that access and admission requirements should not be unnecessarily exclusive, while recognising that selection and placement criteria are matters that individual institutions will need to attend to should there be over-subscription to the specific institution and/or programme. Furthermore the qualification to be studied will make certain demands in respect of learning assumed to be in place, i.e. programme requirements.

4.3 A solution

The solution to this problem may lie in the rules for registration of a FETC on the NQF. In the SAQA document ‘Criteria and Guidelines for the Evaluation of Standards and Qualifications within the NQF’, there is a requirement for proposers of the qualification to indicate what the requirements are for entry to study of the qualification. Furthermore, the proposers of the qualification are also expected to indicate other qualifications to which the achievement of the particular qualification allows access. In other words, for the broad FETC with a wide range of competencies, the qualifications to which access is permitted may be numerous. However, in the case of the more specific FETC the number of qualifications to which access is possible, may be more limited. Again it must be emphasized that a more focussed FETC does not mean that its depth and complexity are in any way less demanding. It does mean that the number of qualifications to which it grants access is more limited. However, a requirement for registration (or award) of a FETC is that there is a minimum of one or more qualifications to which access is possible. If there is still a question about the viability or the exchange value of the FETC that is being proposed, there may be an additional requirement for proposers to indicate what additional learning would be necessary to expand the scope of qualifications that could be accessed. Considerations of lateral movement may also need to be considered. In other words, any learner who has achieved the outcomes of a particular FETC must be able to engage in study of a qualification that is pegged at level 5 at least, or through the addition of appropriate credits at Level 4 is able to engage in study of a qualification at Level 5 in a different area of learning. Additional access requirements then, are linked to learning assumed to be in place before commencing study in a particular qualification, i.e. they are associated with learning programme requirements and not institutionally-determined admission requirements. The SAUVCA document indicates that many institutions maintain that ‘fine’ selection processes are important at faculty or programme level, and that these should be clearly communicated to prospective students (par. 4.1).

A movement in this direction encourages the concept of progression to be linked to actual achievements within a specific area that lead to further qualifications within that specific area, i.e. the creation of learning pathways that enable a learner to progress systematically from level 1 of the NQF to level 8 within a specific field of learning. The learning pathways will have been created by considering the needs for progression from level to level within the learning field rather than by considering the needs for progression from level to level across a number of learning fields. The pathways are created by ensuring that the links between qualifications are established at their inception and learners are hence not required to start ‘at the beginning’ when they wish to embark on a new qualification within the field. The learning they have gained in their progression along a pathway must be acknowledged and the established pathways must encourage this.

The danger that must be avoided is the restriction of options to such a point that a learner, once within a particular field of study, is unable to branch out to other fields that are more or less related. The lateral movements at each level must also be considered to enable a learner to move between fields appropriately without necessarily having to go back to a lower level in all aspects of learning.

4.4 Dangers

This principle does not mean that by simply being in possession of a FETC, a learner would be permitted admission to any programme at any higher education institution. It must be emphasised that the underpinning principle is that admission to higher education is differentiated according to the qualification or learning pathway one wishes to follow. Progress is determined by having achieved the learning outcomes identified by the learning assumed to be in place, to study the chosen qualification or to follow the desired learning pathway. Through the establishment of this principle, SAQA is shifting the focus of progression in a learning pathway from admission to higher education being differentiated according to institution-type and according to criteria determined by individual institutions, to admission to higher education being differentiated according to the demands of the qualification and/or learning pathway that a learner wishes to study. This means that requirements for progression should be determined at a national level by the qualifications within the learning pathway rather than by an institution-type, or by an institution itself.

In summary then, the acquisition of the FETC broadly provides admission to higher education and training, along designated learning pathways. Admission to a specific programme of study, leading to a particular qualification, may assume additional learning to be in place before a learner can expect success or placement in that programme. The FETC that enables progression to the course of study leading to that particular qualification will in all likelihood differ in skills, content and values from another FETC which leads to a different qualification, along a different learning pathway.

  1. Fundamental learning

One has to ask how it is possible to reduce the gap between the ‘use’ and ‘exchange’ value of qualifications. The answer lies in the basic criteria for registering the qualification:

  • balancing the need for flexibility of learning sites against a minimum set of requirements that enable successful participation in further study and the ability to transfer learnt concepts from one situation to another;
  • balancing the need for developing a nation with practical skills to build the economy against developing a nation that can participate successfully in further learning where there may be a need to develop concepts in the abstract as well as apply them in a practical situation;
  • balancing the need for developing citizens whose personal needs and interests are accommodated against developing citizens who adequately understand and can cope with the multiple and complex demands of our society.

The following paragraphs from section 8 and 9 of the NSB regulations give some definition to the FETC and GETC, and begin to address the question of basic criteria for the registration of a FETC and GETC.

Section 8: Requirements for the registration of qualifications

8(1) A qualification shall-

  1. represent a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning;
  2. add value to the qualifying learner in terms of enrichment of the person through the: provision of status, recognition, credentials and licensing; enhancement of marketability and employability; and opening-up of access routes to additional education and training;
  3. provide benefits to society and the economy through enhancing citizenship, increasing social and economic productivity, providing specifically skilled/professional people and transforming and redressing legacies of inequity;
  4. comply with the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework contained in section 2 of the Act;
  5. have both specific and critical cross-field outcomes which promote life-long learning;
  6. where applicable, be internationally comparable;
  7. incorporate integrated assessment appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment shall use a range of formative and summative assessment methods such as portfolios, simulations, work-place assessments, written and oral examinations; and
  8. indicate in the rules governing the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recognition of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learning outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience.

8(2)  A total of 120 (one hundred and twenty) or more credits shall be required for registration of a qualification at levels 1 to 8, with a minimum of 72 (seventy-two) credits being obtained at or above the level at which the qualification is registered, and the number and levels of credits constituting the balance (of forty-eight) shall be specified: Provided that a qualification consisting of less than 120 credits may be considered if it meets the requirements in regulation 8(1) and complies with the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework contained in section 2 of the Act.

Section 9(1)

For registration at levels 1 to 4 the following additional requirements shall apply:

  • A minimum of 72 credits is required at or above the level at which the certificate is awarded, which shall consist of fundamental learning, of which at least 20 credits shall be from the field of Communication Studies and Language, and in addition at least 16 credits shall be from the sub-field of Mathematics including numeracy in the case of certificates at level 1.
  • A minimum of 36 credits at level 1 and 52 at levels 2 to 4 which shall be divided between the Core and Elective categories, with each qualification specifying the distribution of credits required in these categories: provided that the range of additional credits shall be broad enough to enable learners to pursue some of their own learning interests.
  • By the year 2002, at least 16 of the 52 credits for certificates at levels 2 to 4 shall be from the sub-fields focussing on Mathematics Literacy.

The FETC marks the highest level of the further education and training band and hence is pegged at Level 4 of the National Qualifications Framework. The FETC, being a national certificate, consists of a minimum of 120 credits. The assumption is that there is learning that must take place at levels below level 4 of the NQF. Learners who achieve the learning outcomes pegged at these levels could be awarded qualifications at the lower levels of the NQF e.g. a National Certificate, Level 3. Such a certificate would consist of a minimum of 120 credits, with a minimum of 72 credits at level 3 or above. Furthermore it would have compulsory credits allocated to fundamental learning in keeping with the requirements set out in the NSB regulations.

The stipulation of a minimum number of credits implies that it is possible for an FETC of more than 120 credits to be registered on the NQF. In that case it would be possible for more than 48 credits to be at NQF level 3 and could even include credits at NQF level 2.

Regulation 8(2) allows for the registration of a qualification consisting of less than 120 credits, if it meets the requirements in regulation 8(1) and complies with the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework contained in section 2 of the Act. Hence it is possible for a FETC qualification of less than 120 credits to be registered on the NQF. It is envisaged that this would be the exception rather than the rule.

The primary reason for including the requirement for 20 credits of a FETC qualification to be in the field of Language and Communication and 16 credits to be from the field of Mathematics is an attempt to bring some coherence to the qualification. Currently there are a number of qualifications at the Senior Certificate level each of which enjoys different levels of social acceptance. The diversity of construction of qualifications from a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement to a National Training Certificate encourages these different perceptions about the validity of the achievement and hence intellectual ability of its holder, i.e. the societal grading of the qualifications.

The danger exists that an attempt to create coherence will result in the compulsory requirements for the FETC to be too prescriptive and thereby create artificial barriers to progression as is the case with the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement. Too much flexibility however, inevitably results in social judgements about the ‘exchange’ value of certain qualifications and ultimately negatively prejudices the learners who hold the qualification.

The question then arises as to the degree of coherence that should be prescribed or the amount of learning that must be common for all learners in the FET band to ensure that progress to further learning is possible within the variety of contexts. The structure and rules of combination for this qualification then become crucial in ensuring that barriers to access higher education and training are not created. Essential in these considerations is the role of the compulsory credits in Mathematics and Language and Communication.

It is important to emphasize that these two areas of learning provide the key to further learning and hence the complexity and choices of standards are crucial. These have to relate to the purpose of the qualification and the Critical Cross-field Outcomes should be used as the primary measuring stick in the fundamental areas of learning to assess the attainment of the purpose of the qualification as well as to see whether the skills in these areas can be applied in the general arena of the qualification.

5.1 Language and Communication

The SAUVCA report makes the following comment about language: Member universities generally agree that ‘proven ability to communicate at cognitive academic level of proficiency (CALP) in the university medium of instruction’ should remain as part of the endorsement (par. 4.4.2).

The Report of the Ministerial Investigation into the Senior Certificate identifies the following problem: There is evidence that a large proportion of our schools do not give students enough practice in reading – that is to say, in developing critical, selective, analytical and interpretive, reflective analytical and transactional writing skills. This lack of opportunity for practice appears to be particularly prevalent in the teaching of African languages (1998:12). It recommends that assessment of all South African languages should be standardised as a matter of urgency, so that all languages at first and second language level are examined in a comparable way in terms of critical thinking skills and in terms of internal language components.

These two observations emphasise the importance of language in the development of thinking skills. SAQA has therefore indicated that 20 credits are compulsory for Language and Communication. In order to acknowledge the language policy of the country, SAQA has indicated that the 20 compulsory credits in Language and Communication at Level 4 must be obtained in one of the eleven official languages provided for by the SA Constitution of 1996 (Act 108 of 1996).

To enable effective articulation and progression, all holders of an FETC should achieve the same outcomes, as indicated by the 20 compulsory credits, but these may be achieved in any one of the eleven official languages.

The learning outcomes and associated assessment criteria at level 4 must be of the standard required by a learner to participate effectively in higher education and training. Furthermore the learning outcomes and associated assessment criteria will clearly have to take into account the particular needs of all stakeholders in the FETC.

To address the need to develop citizens who can participate effectively in a multi-lingual society, SAQA has indicated that a further 20 credits in Language and Communication must be obtained in a second official language (as provided for by the SA Constitution of 1996) at a minimum of level 3. Again, all holders of an FETC should achieve the same outcomes, as indicated by the 20 compulsory credits, but these may be achieved in any one of the 11 official languages.

The following comments are pertinent in this discussion.

5.1.1. The issue of language in education is a thorny one and opens up questions of access, equity and redress. These considerations are often in opposition to the practical realities of the country and thereby place considerable pressure on politicians and administrators to try and make decisions that are politically acceptable, fair and practical.

5.1.2 The study of second language also raises issues of equity and redress, particularly when the reality in the country is that the majority of learners conduct their studies in a second language, while a few are able to study in their home language. Furthermore, in a country where there are eleven official languages it is politically desirable to insist that learners in formal schooling study a minimum of two official languages. However, when the achievement of outcomes in a second language becomes a requirement for continuing education, particularly when it is not needed for a learner to progress within a desired career path, this has the potential for becoming an unnecessary barrier to further learning. This will need to be monitored to ensure that this is not the case.

5.1.3 There are some who argue that any language recommendations for the FETC should acknowledge the reality that English and Afrikaans are the languages of instruction for most learners and that the resources required to make learning available in all national languages are not available in our country. Taking this reality into account, the FETC requirements should make the study of one of these languages compulsory. However, the question of the language of instruction in schools and other institutions of learning is a political question and should be addressed at that level. It is inappropriate for SAQA to dictate what the policy should be, including timeframes for implementation.

5.1.4 The issue of NQF level addresses the question of complexity of outcomes. It is envisaged that the outcomes for Language and Communication will be the same for the different languages and that the differences in respect of level of study will apply equally in each of the languages. The current distinction between first language and second language is addressed by the distinction in complexity as indicated by different levels on the NQF.

5.1.5. There is some doubt as to whether 20 credits in Language and Communication is sufficient to address the needs of CALP (Cognitive Academic Level of Proficiency). Until there is clarity on what outcomes are envisaged by the 20 credits it is not possible to verify such an assertion. Furthermore an increase or decrease in the number of credits allocated to Language and Communication does not, of itself, address the issue of complexity or quantity. These issues are more likely to be captured in the outcomes themselves.

5.2 Mathematics

SAQA has indicated that the 16 compulsory credits in Mathematics must be obtained at level 4. All holders of an FETC will have achieved the same Mathematics outcomes as indicated by the 16 credits but these may be obtained in different contexts.

The learning outcomes and associated assessment criteria must be of the level required by a learner to participate effectively in society. It should be possible to achieve the outcomes in a variety of learning contexts so that the emphasis is not on the study of concepts in the abstract or more specifically in Mathematics as a subject. Furthermore the learning outcomes and associated assessment criteria will clearly have to take into account the particular needs of all stakeholders in the FETC.

Discussions in this regard will have to take into account the generally low degree of proficiency in Mathematics in our society and the lack of appropriately qualified teachers in the schooling system. It will be the task of curriculum developers to ensure that Mathematics outcomes are included in learning programmes as appropriate. The intention is that the Mathematics credits must support the purpose of the qualification and the Critical Cross-field Outcomes. Mathematics standards at level 4 that are developed by an SGB other than that dedicated to pure Mathematics should be reviewed by NSB 10 to ensure that the nature and quality of the standards are appropriate.

It is important to emphasise that the compulsory credits should contribute positively to learning and not pose an unnecessary barrier to further learning.

5.3 Further credits in Communication and Language and Mathematics

It is clear that different areas of study will require a deeper understanding of the fields of Communication and Language or Mathematics. In these cases, the particular requirements will be included as necessary further credits within the qualification.

The most important consideration in including the compulsory credits in fundamental learning is to ensure coherence and equal acceptance of the FETC qualification regardless of its focus. It is essential then that in deciding what learning is envisaged in the compulsory credits, this principle is not forgotten. It is only in this way that the fundamental learning will remain meaningful and not become a barrier to achievement. The contextualisation of the fundamental learning is also critical to ensure that it remains meaningful for learners within their contexts of learning. Hence in registering an FETC, proposers of the qualification must detail the purpose of the qualification, indicating clearly any additional consideration in respect of the primary purpose indicated above, as well as ensure that the fundamental learning has a relevant and meaningful role to play within the purpose outlined for the qualification.

  1. Rules of combination

6.1 Minimum credits at level 4

Paragraph 8.2 of the NSB regulations states further that a total of 120 or more credits shall be required for registration of a qualification at levels 1 to 8, with a minimum of 72 credits being obtained at or above the level at which the qualification is registered, and the number and levels of credits constituting the balance (of forty-eight) shall be specified: provided that a qualification consisting of less than 120 credits may be considered if it meets the requirements in regulation 8(1) and complies with the objectives of the NQF contained in section 2 of the Act.

Therefore, in terms of the regulations, the requirements that must be fulfilled by a learner before a FETC can be awarded is as follows:

  • 120 credits of which 72 must be at level 4 or above.
  • Of these 72 credits, 20 credits must be in Language and Communication and 16 must be in Mathematics.

The Regulations do not directly address the question of whether there is a minimum level for the remaining 48 credits that do not need to be at level 4 or above. For example, must all 48 credits be at a minimum of level 3, or is there the option of some at level 2 or even level 1?

Differing requirements in respect of the number of credits required at level 4 for an FETC will affect the social acceptability of the qualification – those qualifications with a requirement for 120 credits to be at level 4 will automatically be viewed differently from those which are required to have only 72 credits at level 4.

Another point to be made is that even though a FETC has a minimum of 120 credits, it is highly likely that a learner will accumulate more than 120 credits. Furthermore it is also possible for a learner to achieve more than 72 credits at or above level 4, irrespective of whether the requirements stipulate a minimum of 72. Learners can choose the extent of learning within an area of study by the number of additional credits they choose to study and they can choose the degree of complexity by the NQF level of the credits they choose to study.

In view of the fact that there will be qualifications registered at Levels 2 and 3 of the NQF, the FETC should have a maximum of 48 credits at level 3 of the NQF.

6.2 Core and elective learning

Paragraph 9(b) of the NSB regulations discusses the question of core and elective learning:

  1. A minimum of 36 credits at level 1 and 52 at levels 2 to 4 which shall be divided between the Core and Elective categories, with each qualification specifying the distribution of credits required in these categories: provided that the range of additional credits shall be broad enough to enable learners to pursue some of their own learning interests.

It is unlikely that any blanket ruling on the division of credits across these two categories will serve any positive purpose. The reason for this is that the different purposes of qualifications should ultimately determine the ratio of core and elective learning: In some qualifications it may not be very easy to determine what constitutes core learning as opposed to elective learning while in other qualifications the core learning will dominate the necessary credits, by virtue of the purpose of the qualification. The determination of what constitutes core learning for a qualification and what the elective options are, should rest with the proposers of the qualification.

The Department of Education FET discussion document has identified 10 credits in Life Skills as part of the fundamental learning. This could be designated as core learning for this qualification. The principle that proposers of a certain qualification can designate specific areas of study or credits as compulsory within that qualification is accepted.

6.3 Additional rules of combination

There is a danger in a system of credit accumulation, that credits are accumulated over a period of time, separately at a number of different providers and in that process, although the learner has accumulated all the parts, the overall purpose of the qualification has been lost. In higher education, there is a practice of requiring learners to complete a certain percentage of the qualification requirements or aspects of the qualification within the institution before they will award the qualification – only a limited number of courses from another institutions is taken into consideration. At the Senior Certificate with endorsement there are minimum requirements for the number of subjects that must be offered and passed at one sitting of the examination – the group examination concept. These requirements are attempts at ensuring coherence within the qualification. This issue needs consideration and guidance on how and where the concerns around the ‘shopping basket’ accumulation of credits can be addressed. This is a particular issue for consideration when integrated assessment and recognition of prior learning (RPL) are discussed. The experience of the ETQAs will be invaluable in contributing to these discussions.

  1. Movement through the system

7.1 Progression from further education and training to higher education and training

Progression within the current system is marked by specific critical points. Furthermore there are different practices within the different bands.

To explain: at school, a learner is able to pass to the next standard, without passing certain subject/s. This is problematic in that in the next grade, the learner continues study in the subject that s/he has failed, at the next grade level, i.e. proceeds with new work before fully mastering the concepts, skills and knowledge of the previous grade. However, at the Grade 12 level, before a learner can progress further, s/he must fulfil the requirements for the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement. Progress into higher education is only occasionally permitted without fulfilling all requirements and then usually it is only permitted on condition that certain requirements are met within a given space of time. In reality, this means that the Senior Certificate is a ‘halting’ point where progress is stopped until minimum requirements have been achieved, e.g. a candidate must pass a minimum of five subjects and attain a minimum aggregate. In fact progression into university study entails the achievement of more stringent requirements as dictated by the Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement. In higher education, the process unfolds slightly differently. For example, a student is permitted to continue with his/her studies while still completing another requirement which may have been failed. This differs from the schooling sector, in that the student may not continue study in a subject until prior learning outcomes have been achieved. However, there is still a ‘halting’ point in that a degree or diploma is not awarded until all credits have been fulfilled and hence the learner is likely to be prevented from embarking on further study.

The Department of Education FET discussion document appears to support the notion that a learner may accumulate credits and should certain credits not have been achieved, the learner may enrol concurrently for credits at level 2 and at level 3, for example (page 19). There is also the indication that there is a ‘halting’ point at the FETC level 4. On page 31, the following statement is made: After a learner has obtained the FETC, s/he can proceed towards the achievement of outcomes leading to a certificate or diploma at level 5, subject to HE admission requirements. This policy reflects the process followed in higher education and indicates a shift from past practice.

It may be necessary for SAQA to take a principle stand that progression within a band may be on the basis of accumulation of credits as determined by the providers within a band. However, progression between bands must be based on the achievement of critical qualifications, e.g. progress from ABET to study of a qualification in the further education and training band requires the achievement of a GETC; progress from study at level 3 and below to a qualification in the higher education and training band requires the achievement of a FETC. Alternatively, proposers of qualifications may be asked to indicate the conditions upon which progress to a qualification at a level in the next band is granted. The danger in this is that the flexibility may ultimately undermine the credibility and coherence of the NQF itself.

The question is how to balance progression and access. There is a need to balance flexibility with rationality in the system so that it is possible for institutions to manage learning in a coherent manner. The real challenge may well be in ensuring that institutions are sufficiently flexible.

7.2 Credit accumulation and part awards

The Department of Education FET discussion document suggests that credit accumulation at levels 2 and 3 will be acknowledged by the issuing of credit-based certificates when the minimum compulsory credits have been attained. The accumulated credits will be captured on SAQA’s National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD). This process motivates learners by accrediting achievement as it occurs. The current practice of permitting a learner who has not achieved the outcomes within a particular learning area at a particular level, to continue study in that area at a higher level, simply because s/he has achieved the necessary outcomes in five other learning areas, will be challenged by the introduction of such a system.

Certain other proposers of qualifications that span more than one level are experimenting with the concept of designing the qualification in such a way that credit-based certificates can be issued along the way as the necessary credits are achieved.

  1. Other issues

8.1 Grading

Grading is a deeply embedded systemic issue. It is a feature of provisioning and is not a matter that relates directly to the setting of standards and registration of qualifications. It does, however, relate to issues of selection and placement. Although it is an issue that needs to be discussed and debated more fully, it will not be addressed in this document as it does not directly affect the parameters for construction of the FETC.

8.2 Integrated assessment and recognition of prior learning (RPL)

In the NSB regulations there is the requirement that proposers of qualifications address these two concepts in their submissions.

One of the problems that has faced the system is that the purpose of the Senior Certificate has not been clear. Furthermore, a problem that faces a system that encourages the achievement of a qualification through credit accumulation is that a learner may achieve the required number of credits in the relevant areas of study. However, these credits have been earned over a period of time, at different learning sites, through different assessment modes perhaps even through RPL. Because of the fragmented nature of the learning and assessment, there is no guarantee then that the overall purpose of the qualification has been achieved.

The issue of integrated assessment is addressed in the SAQA publication,Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF registered unit standards and qualifications. This is a complex concept and engagement with it by practitioners will inform further developments and debates. SAQA is in the process of developing a policy document on Recognition of Prior Learning. It is intended that this document will be available during 2001.

  1. Issues of implementation

This document sets out the guiding principles for the development of FETC qualifications. The challenge for the South African education and training system is to ensure that in the implementation of the system, the intended benefits of the system are not lost. Careful consideration must be given as to how one moves a system from the present to the future, i.e. systemic change issues. Even if SAQA accepts qualifications as proposed by different bodies, debated according to agreed principles, the real problem lies with society’s acceptance of their value and implementation in such a way that the full value of the policies are felt. Furthermore successful implementation is reliant on political support for the process, especially in respect of the resources required to make the intended benefits possible.

The national system needs to accommodate the imperative that different sectors will embrace the new system at different times, according to the extent of their readiness to do so. While there are pressing incentives to move into the new system as quickly as possible, the necessity for carefully devised implementation plans that ensure that all necessary pieces of the system are in place before implementation, cannot be ignored. For example, the introduction of new qualifications without the necessary quality assurance processes in place will serve to undermine rather than build the system in that society cannot be assured of the value of the new qualification and the standard of achievement of the learners cannot be guaranteed.

Consideration of more flexible organisational arrangements within the system are likely to have the effect of ‘loosening up’ the system and encouraging life-long learning, e.g. semesterisation of assessment; within the schooling sector, relaxing group examining requirements. However full implementation will require much more elaborate and detailed plans to ensure coherence and full benefit from the system.

On many occasions during this development process, the point was made by a number of stakeholders that deficiencies within the schooling sector as a result of our history, are contributing to a situation where learners who enter the higher education sector are not adequately prepared. Until the quality of provisioning in the schooling sector is improved, the positive impact of these systemic arrangements will not be experienced by learners. It was emphasised that it is not only the quality of provisioning that is a factor, but also the quality of the programmes and the organisation of the programmes into meaningful qualifications that need attention. The rationalisation of subjects offered at the Senior Certificate is the first step towards establishing a simpler system. This will assist in the registration of more appropriate FETC qualifications that can be offered in formal schooling. The development of the appropriate curricula leading to the FETC qualifications offered in schools, requires very careful planning and preparation before implementation.

The necessity for a simple system at the schooling level with a clear and comprehensive career guidance programme cannot be over-emphasised.

A very important aspect of the implementation plan must be a comprehensive communications strategy to ensure that all roleplayers are well-informed of the intentions and requirements under-pinning the principles of the FETC.

  1. Conclusion

It is intended that the underpinning principles will enable the FETC to be a qualification that can respond to a variety of social and economic needs, promoting education provision which:

  • Enhances the possibility for lifelong learning in the context of the limited opportunities which have existed until now;
  • Provides real opportunities for the transfer of learning from educational systems to the world of work so that the potential opportunities for paid work and self employment are considerably strengthened;
  • Provides meaningful access to the higher education system as a whole through a variety of routes and flexible learning pathways and which recognizes the fact of historical disadvantage and the demands of a complex higher education learning environment;
  • Enables learners to understand their role as citizens and enriches their participation in democratic processes;
  • Enables learners from many backgrounds [schooling, work, the unemployed and disadvantaged groups in particular] to take up the opportunities for further learning and through such learning enhance their role in the development of a democratic society.

The point must be emphasised that one of the strengths of the SAQA system is that it is an open system, allowing flexibility for different bodies to put forward the qualifications that serve their needs. The regulations should not be restrictive and drive the system back towards closing pathways rather than opening up pathways. We must remember that access and portability exist in tension – as access is opened up and flexibility is prioritised, the portability of credits from one qualification to another becomes more limited; on the other hand, the more portability of credits is emphasized, the more restrictive and less flexible access becomes. SAQA must ensure that the system does not become restrictive and place artificial barriers to viable pathways.


References
  • National Curriculum Framework for Further Education and Training: Department of Education, May 2000
  • The Matriculation Endorsement and the Re-structuring of the Senior Certificate: SAUVCA Task Team, November 1999
  • Report of the Ministerial Investigation into the Senior Certificate: Chair, Dr M Naidoo, 1998
  • Comments received from the public comment process, as indicated on page 4 fff.

SAQA: Quality Management Systems for Education & Training Providers

Quality Management Systems for Education & Training Providers

Download a copy of the policy from the SAQA website:
http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/qms_prov.pdf

Quality Management

Systems for

Education and Training

Providers

Please direct all queries to:

The Executive Officer

SAQA

Attention: Ronel Heyns

Assistant Director Quality Assurance and Development

RE: Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers

Postnet Suite 248

Private Bag X06

Brooklyn 0145

Pretoria

South Africa

Fax (012) 482 0817

Email:

Approved as a guideline document 2001-08-15. Decision number : SAQA 0837/01

Table of Contents

Executive Summary                                                                               2

Chapter 1: Overview and Introduction 3
Chapter 2: The Research Process and Key Findings 7
Some Prominent Quality Management Systems

used Worldwide

8

Chapter 3: Locating the SAQA Quality Approach in terms of
Dominant Models 15
SAQA, the NQF and Quality 17
Chapter 4: Elaborating on the Core Criteria 20
Chapter 5: Conclusion 31
Bibliography 32

Tables

Table 1:

Core criteria for education and training providers

20

Annexure

Annexure A:

Research Findings

33

Executive Summary

The South African Qualification Authority Act of 1995 defines an education and training provider as:

A body which delivers learning programmes which culminate in specified National Qualification Framework standards and/or qualifications, and manages the assessment thereof.

Education and training providers (hereafter referred to as providers) are at the base of the education and training system in that they are the organisations that actually

engage in teaching and learning and deal directly with learners, the ‘clients’ whom the education and training system is meant to serve. It is therefore of critical importance that providers develop quality management systems (QMS), and that they receive the necessary support in order to operate within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

This document addresses the following:

0     General issues related to QMS for providers;

0     Paradigms in quality management and quality assurance;

0     Elements that would constitute a QMS approach; and

0     The SAQA quality template.

In addition, this document provides an elaboration of the core criteria that providers need to conform to in order to receive accreditation from their constituent ETQAs. The inclusion of these elaborated criteria is a direct response to the perceived needs of providers and is intended to facilitate the development of QMS among providers.

This document also points to the need to allow sector-specific core criteria to be developed, if they are found to be necessary. However, it is emphasised that such sector- specific criteria cannot contradict the core criteria and can only be added to the core criteria. Such sector-specific criteria, however, need to be sanctioned by SAQA.

It is important to note that this document does not replace the Criteria and Guidelines for

Providers document, but should rather be read in conjunction with it.

As in Criteria and Guidelines for Providers, a process approach has been adopted which takes into account the need for a phasing-in of aspects of the system within the broader model of transforming the national education and training system.

Also, research findings strongly indicate a need for an approach for the establishment of quality management systems to be developmental in nature. The core criteria discussed in this document are therefore seen as the minimum requirements for the first phase of provider accreditation.

Chapter

1

Overview and Introduction

Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers and related documents

With the publication of this policy guideline document, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) takes an important step towards facilitating the development of quality management systems (QMS) for education and training providers.

A parallel document entitled Quality Management Systems for ETQAs was released by SAQA in August 2000. In that document, the view of quality endorsed by SAQA is explicitly set out, as are the ways in which quality management systems may be operationalised by ETQAs, and the roles, responsibilities and functions ETQAs have in relation to providers and to SAQA. Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers has drawn on the approach adopted in Quality Management Systems for ETQAs. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that these documents be read jointly.

Furthermore, the links between Quality Management Systems for ETQAs, Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers and Criteria and Guidelines for Providers need to be stressed, since all these documents form part of an integrated

strategy by SAQA to enable the development of quality management systems among

ETQAs and providers. The links between the three documents are important because of the nature of the relationship between ETQAs and providers. Providers need to be clear about what ETQAs are mandated to do, as much as ETQAs need to be aware of quality management issues pertaining to providers.

Role distinctions in a quality assurance paradigm

In Quality Management Systems for ETQAs, the following useful role distinctions are drawn in terms of what the document refers to as the “NQF Organisation”:

In many ways, the NQF System is comparable to a large organisation, having a clear and shared purpose laid out in the Act.

Within the “NQF Organisation”, SAQA creates the vision, sets the policies,

defines the timetable, delegates the tasks and defines quality of performance for those to whom they are delegated. It is the equivalent of the Board and senior executive of an organisation.

The SGBs define the service standards1 in terms of the specific outcomes2 that should match the vision described by SAQA.

1 ‘standards’ refer to criteria used to measure customer or client service

2 ‘specific outcomes’ in this context would include all outcomes specified by the sub-sector

The Providers are the powerhouses, the productive units, the creators and constituent providers of the service.

The ETQAs have the quality audit and assurance role.

But, what of the NSBs and the suggested Moderating Bodies? What is their role within this organisation?

Their  task  is  complex  and  diverse.  As  already  discussed,  the  NQF  entails providing services that are diverse in the content, as diverse as the customers for the service.

By creating multiple NSBs, to act in essence as agents of SAQA, this diversity is managed. SAQA requires that each NSB include representation from the various

stakeholders for the ultimate service. In this way, SAQA is seeking to ensure that the  standards  developed  by  individual  SGBs  reflect  the  vision,  address  the problems identified and meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders. They are to quality assure the standards setters3.

The  potential  Moderating  Bodies  have  a  similar  role.  To  simplify  operations,

providers are to be served by a single ETQA, but the implementation of standards is  not  to  be  limited  to  a  particular  sector  of  providers.  (Indeed  this  would  be contrary  to  two  of  the  goals  of  the  Act,  the  development  of  an  integrated framework and enhanced mobility between the different parts of the system of providers).  So  different  ETQAs  will  be  quality-assuring  services  based  on  the same standards. Mobility and credibility will depend on an adequately consistent interpretation of the standards by all that use them. The role of the Moderating Bodies will be to assure this consistency across ETQAs. They too are agents of SAQA.

(Quality Management Systems for ETQAs, page 12)

This document focuses specifically on providers – the “creators and constituent providers of the service”.

Focus of the document

The main aim of this document is to provide guidelines for the establishment of quality management systems for providers. These guidelines are given to enable movement towards the development of QMS for providers. This includes the explanation of criteria for accreditation, elaborating on the core criteria that providers will need to be able to satisfy. The core criteria were defined in the ETQA Regulations (R 1127 of 8 September

1988) and also in the Quality Management Systems for ETQAs and Criteria and Guidelines for Providers. However, this document recognizes that in terms of the implementation of quality management systems, a developmental approach is most appropriate.

This policy guideline document thus has the following aims:

3 ‘setters’ refers to standard generators

  1. To set out broad models of quality management and describe how SAQA’s approach to quality management relates to these.
  2. To explicate the core criteria that providers need to satisfy regarding the development of quality management systems within their organisations or institutions.

Structure of the document

The first section deals with the research process undertaken on behalf of SAQA and key findings of the research.

The  second  section  discusses some  of  the  most  prominent quality  management systems used   worldwide   and   locating   the   SAQA   quality   approach   in   terms   of   dominant approaches.

The third section deals with the core criteria that providers need to satisfy regarding the development of a quality management system for their institutions or organizations.

Conventions and Abbreviations

A list of the most common abbreviations and acronyms used in the Quality Management

Systems for Education and Training Providers appears below.

Also, although it is assumed that the reader is familiar with the terms relating to quality assurance as it appears in Quality Management Systems for ETQAs, the terms are included in this document to facilitate a common understanding.

Acronyms used in this document

CTS                Conformance to Specifications CHE          Council for Higher Education DoE      Department of Education

ETQA             Education and Training Quality Assurance Body

FET                 Further Education and Training

HEQC             Higher Education Quality Committee

ISO                 International Standards Organisation NQF                        National Qualifications Framework NSB           National Standards Body

QMS               Quality Management Systems

SAQA             South African Qualifications Authority

SGB                Standards Generating Body

TQM               Total Quality Management

Terms and definitions relating to quality assurance

(Paraphrased from Quality Management Systems for ETQAs, pages 6,7):

Quality Management Systems means the combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved. A quality management system is the sum

of the activities and information an organization uses to enable it to better and more

consistently deliver products and services that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its customers and beneficiaries, more cost effectively and cost efficiently, today and in the future.

Quality Assurance means the sum of activities that assure the quality of products and services at the time of production or delivery. Quality assurance procedures are frequently applied only to the activities and products associated directly with the goods and services provided to external customers.

Quality Audits are activities undertaken to measure the quality of products or services that have already been made or delivered. In itself a quality audit has no impact on quality.

Quality Control is undertaken by the person(s) who make the product (or deliver the service) for internal purposes.

Chapter

2

The Research Process And Key Findings

The research conducted included a literature review of dominant global and national quality management systems and a field research among groups of providers of education and training.

The literature review will be discussed under “Prominent Quality Management Systems used Worldwide”.

The field research included the following provider groups:

0     Providers of further education and training;

0     Higher education providers;

0     Providers of workplace-based education and training;

0     Education and training quality assurance bodies;

0     Independent schools;

0     Quality assurance coordinators of the provincial departments of education; and

0     Private training providers.

Please refer to the attached research findings contained in Annexure A.

The field research findings represent a powerful request for a phased approach to what might be termed ‘quality development’ rather than ‘quality management’ or ‘quality assurance’. Such an approach would have the following characteristics:

0     In the initial phase, certain minimum (‘first wave’) requirements would be set, largely related to functionality (at least in the school and technical college sectors).

0     A strong support strategy would be designed and implemented in this initial phase (characterised, for example, by formative rather than inspectorial evaluations, timeframes for improvement, and innovations such as a SAQA customer relations function and simplified guidelines).

0     The support strategy would be weighted in favour of under-resourced institutions (for

example, but not limited to, rural institutions).

0     Greater communication and coordination would be generated among structures

responsible for quality assurance in different sectors.

0     The promotion of (and training for) self-evaluation strategies would be a key aspect of the support strategy.

0     Provisional accreditation of providers would be an aspect of the initial phase.

0     The definition, through consultation, of a ‘second wave’ of requirements, would form the basis for a second phase of quality development. In the initial phase these requirements would be optional, but would become compulsory elements over time as the support strategy builds capacity.

Taken as a whole, the research findings represent an array of hopes, fears and confusions surrounding SAQA’s approach to quality management systems for providers of education and training, largely but not wholly based on close prior engagement with relevant SAQA documents.

Taken together, the findings represent a complex mix of acceptance of SAQA’s principled intentions, a range of constructive suggestions towards the construction of a quality management model, and, in certain key respects, a powerful critique of SAQA’s

‘quality template’ in terms of both feasibility and desirability. It should be reiterated that

the findings presented in Annexure A are only indicative of possible realities. In some cases, such as the emphasis on self-evaluation and the preference for a supportive approach to quality management, the themes were powerfully and consistently expressed across groups, which allows at least the formulation of the hypothesis that these concerns are widely shared among providers of education and training. The research suggests strongly that quality debates should address the concept of a quality development strategy as urgently as the notion of a quality management systems model.

Prominent Quality Management Systems used

Worldwide

The following is a summary of some prominent quality management systems and approaches used throughout the world. It is not intended to be a critique of such systems, but should rather serve as an introduction to providers. Also, these should not be seen as possible ‘models’ for providers, but are only examples of approaches to quality management systems.  Where possible and appropriate, an ‘education context’ has been included.

The quality management systems discussed are:

o Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award

o European Quality Management Award

o Australian Quality Award o The Koalaty Kid Program o The Deming Prize

o The ISO 9000/2000 Quality Management Code of Practice

o Investors in People

o The South African Excellence Model

o The Balanced Business Scorecard

o The Scottish Quality Management System

Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award – USA

Core values and concepts:

  1. a) Leadership
  2. b) Strategic planning
  3. c) Customer and market focus d) Information and analysis
  4. e) Human resource focus f)  Process management g)  Business results

Significance of the Baldridge Award criteria to Education and Training:

This management system is used successfully in the education and health sectors in the USA. The core criteria remain the same for these sectors, except where Customer and market focus will be replaced by (c) Student and Stakeholder focus; and Human Resources focus will be replaced by (e) Faculty and staff focus.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The European Quality Award

Core values and concepts:

  1. a) Leadership
  2. b) Policy and strategy c) People management d)  Resources
  3. e) Processes
  4. f) Customer satisfaction
  5. g) People satisfaction h) Impact on society i)    Business results

Significance of the European Quality Award criteria to Education and Training:

This system strongly focuses on ‘Self-assessment’. The self-assessment is a comprehensive, systematic and regular review of the organization’s activities. The benefits are perceived to be:

o A rigorous and structured approach to business improvement

o An assessment based on facts and not individual opinions

o A means to achieve consistency of direction and consensus on what needs to be

done

o A means to educate the people in the organization on how to apply, in a meaningful way, the principles of ‘Total Quality Management’(TQM)

o A means to integrate various quality initiatives into normal business operations

o An objective assessment against a set of criteria which have become widely

accepted across Europe

o A means of measuring progress over time

o Process-induced improvement activities focused where it is most needed

o A methodology for application at all levels ranging from the individual business unit to the organization as a whole

o A means to create enthusiasm amongst the people within the organization and give fresh impetus to their pursuit of business excellence

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The Australian Quality Award

Core values and concepts:

  1. a) Leadership
  2. b) Policy and planning
  3. c) Information and analysis d) People
  4. e) Customer focus
  5. f) Quality of process, product and service
  6. g) Organisational performance

Significance of the Australian Quality Award criteria to Education and Training:

As in the case of the previous quality management systems, the core criteria for this system are very similar, also focusing strongly on self-assessment. The self-assessment criteria are broad in scope and non-prescriptive to allow for interpretation that best fits the needs of the organization.

Both the European and Australian Quality Awards categorize their core criteria into

‘Enablers’, ‘Drivers’ and ‘Results’.

The ‘Enablers’ include Policy Planning, Information and Analysis and People. These are seen to mobilize the organization to achieve its objectives.

The ‘Drivers’ include Leadership and Customer Focus.

The ‘Results’ refer to the Quality of the Process, Product and Service. (For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.)

The Koalaty Kid Programme – USA

Core values and concepts:

The Koalaty Kid Programme is an approach, not a prescribed system. The four key factors are:

  1. a) Active involvement of the whole school community b) Committed leadership
  2. c) Employment of a system for continuous improvement d) An environment that celebrates success

Significance of the Koalaty Kid Programme to Education and Training:

The Koalaty Kid Programme embraces the spirit and substance of ‘Total Quality’, a systematic approach to continuous improvement. Using this approach, teams identify targets for improvement. Then they work towards achieving these by establishing standards of excellence, communicating clear expectations involving all stakeholders, managing by processes, measuring progress, and recognizing and awarding success.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The Deming Prize – Japan

Core values and concepts:

The Deming Prize focuses on the application of statistical quality control. a)  Policy

  1. b) Management of organisation
  2. c) Education
  3. d) Information gathering
  4. e) Analysis
  5. f) Standardization
  6. g) Control
  7. h) Quality assurance i) Results
  8. j) Future planning

Significance of the Deming Prize to Education and Training:

The ‘Mt Edgecumbe High School’s Modified Deming Points for Quality in Education’ has adapted Deming’s fourteen points for quality in organizations to suit the needs of an educational institution.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.)

The ISO 9000/2000 International Code of Practice for Quality Management Systems

Core values and concepts:

The focus of this International Standard is to improve the processes of an organization in order to enhance performance.

  1. a) Customer focus b) Leadership
  2. c) Involvement of people d) Process approach
  3. e) Systems approach to management
  4. f) Continual improvement
  5. g) Factual approach to decision-making
  6. h) Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

Significance of the ISO9000/2000 International Code of Practice for Quality

Management Systems to Education and Training:

It is not the purpose of this International standard to imply uniformity of quality management systems, which makes the system adaptable according to size, structure, market and resources of the organization. The focus of this system is:

o To identify and meet the needs and expectations of its customers and other interested parties (i.e. employees, suppliers, owners, society), to achieve a competitive advantage, and to do this in an effective and efficient manner;

o To achieve, maintain and improve overall organizational performance and capabilities.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) Investors in People

Core values and concepts:

Investors in People aims to help organizations to improve performance through a planned approach to:

  1. a) Setting and communicating business goals b) Developing people to meet these goals

Key principles include:

  1. a) Commitment to the development of people
  2. b) Planning – clear aims and objectives understood by all c) Action – to support the development of people
  1. d) Evaluating – the impact of people development

Significance of Investors in People to Education and Training:

The ultimate goal of Investors in People is Total Quality Management supported by lifetime learning in the people of the organisation.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The South African Excellence Model

Core values and concepts:

As in the case of the European and Australian Quality Awards, this system makes use of the terms ‘Enablers’ and ‘Results’ when defining their core criteria. The ‘Enablers’ describe how the ‘Results’ are achieved.

The core criteria are:

  1. a) The Enablers: Leadership, e. strategy and planning; customer and market focus;

people management; resources and information management

  1. b) The Results: Processes, e. social responsibility; customer satisfaction, people

satisfaction, supplier and partnership performance

Significance of The South African Excellence Model to Education and Training:

The South African Excellence Model can be seen as a longer-term improvement plan that any organization could apply to effect ‘continuous improvement’.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The Balanced Business Scorecard

Core values and concepts:

The Balanced Business Scorecard has four focus areas that is concentrated on:

  1. a) Financial
  2. b) Customers
  3. c) Learning and growth
  4. d) Internal business process

Significance of The Balanced Business Scorecard to Education and Training:

The Balanced Business Scorecard is a strategic measurement system that allows managers to keep track of the deployment of their strategic plans and the subsequent improvement of their strategic performance.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.) The Scottish Quality Management System

Core values and concepts:

The Scottish Quality Management System is a comprehensive auditing system that can be used by organisations to evaluate themselves against requirements and help to guide and support quality developments. The system is based on 14 standards which describe quality features or characteristics of management systems:

  1. a) Strategic management b) Quality management
  2. c) Marketing d) Staffing
  3. e) Staff development
  4. f) Equal opportunities g)  Health and safety
  5. h) Premises and equipment
  6. i) Communication and administration j) Financial management

Significance of The Scottish Quality Management System to Education and Training:

The Scottish Quality Management System has been designed to meet the requirements of the Scottish equivalent of SAQA, the SQA.

(For references and more information, please refer to the Bibliography.)

PLEASE NOTE: From this brief overview, it is clear that there are many commonalities between the different quality management systems. This tries to highlight the fact that providers may use any (or a combination) of quality management approaches, and that howsoever a provider sets up its quality management, it should be possible to comply with the minimum criteria for accreditation.

Chapter

3

Locating the SAQA Quality Approach in terms of

Dominant QMS Models

The Quality Management Debate

The literature review of debates in quality management and assurance highlighted two dominant approaches of quality assurance and management. These are the ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM) and ‘Conformance to Specifications’ (CTS) approaches. However, it is recognized that there are variations and adaptations of both models. (Refer to the examples of other Quality Management Systems in chapter 2). These two broad approaches are representative of most of the approaches currently in use, and also represent the broad paradigmatic tensions in the quality debate.

In the discussion following, these two approaches are deliberately simplified and

polarized in order to contrast key features of possible understandings of ‘quality’, but it is

recognized that most quality management systems will be a ‘hybrid’ of two or more approaches, including elements of Total Quality Management and Conformance to Specifications.

Also, the emphasis is on ‘quality development’ and continuous improvement, rather than on the choice of an instrument. For example, the ETQA and its constituent providers could negotiate commonly agreed-upon procedures within a particular environment. This makes it possible to be context-sensitive and to focus on the ‘process’ of quality development, rather than on the tools. Taking a process approach ensures that quality management has a developmental impact on the organization and the sector.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

The starting point of Total Quality Management (TQM) is quite different from the structural and instrumentalist approaches. TQM sees the objective of quality management and quality assurance as part of the process of managing a changing organisation, culture and environment and using change management to align the mission, culture and working practices of an organisation in pursuit of continued quality improvement. TQM thus

views all quality management processes as being specifically designed to constantly challenge an organisation’s current practices and performance and thus to improve an

organisation’s inputs and outputs. Part of this mission, for example, entails assessing where and when internal obstacles occur.

A critical element of the TQM method is that it is highly “people-orientated” and participative. It assumes that a quality culture is an integral and necessary part of an organisation, and that all line functions within an organisation are quality interfaces. This approach assumes that all members of an organisation are responsible for quality assurance (maintenance and improvement) and thus that quality is not a centralized activity, but devolved to various functional and organisational levels.

TQM can broadly be described as embodying five critical principles, namely:

0     The creation of an appropriate climate within an organisation, particularly with regard to establishing a quality culture and empowering all members to participate in and

take responsibility for quality improvement. An aspect of this climate is the creation

of a ‘dissatisfied state’: a state in which critical questions are constantly being asked about current inputs, processes, performance and outcomes. This requires a process of research, analysis, measurement and feedback, with a view to improving the current state of operations.

0     A customer orientation whereby customer requirements are agreed, and customers are

an integral part of delivery. Regular progress evaluations are carried out in all

functions against identified customer needs and expectations. In TQM the customer is

both an internal and an external stakeholder and target group, and is the focus of all levels of an organisation’s hierarchy.

0     Management by research, data and fact. This principle stresses the importance of

‘objective’ information from which an organisation can generate an assessment (as opposed to subjective or hearsay evidence). Emphasis is placed on statistical and quantitative research techniques to generate information. Surveys are also a common feature of TQM, but are used in the context of assisting with fact-finding. Data generated is then analyzed and translated into action plans, indicators and objectives for improvement. These plans are then compared with previous plans, and improvement is quantified. What is useful about this research technique is that over time patterns do and can emerge which are useful tools in measuring and predicting improvements.

0     Having a people-based and participative management philosophy that stresses

problem-solving and seeking improvement opportunities in teams.

0     Continuous quality improvement is the ongoing objective of TQM and stresses that

an organisation must remain cognizant of its purpose to strive for improvement. This sense of purpose guides an organisation in the allocation of resources to its plans.

TQM is undoubtedly a difficult, time-consuming and arduous process that demands qualities and skills of leadership and staff lacking in most organisations. It therefore cannot be seen as a ‘quick-fix’ solution or strategy. It is the most comprehensive and analytical of models, and is conceptually in line with the more fluid management style associated with market-driven and entrepreneurial organisations.

Conformance to Specifications (CTS)

In  direct  contrast  to  TQM  is  the  range  of  conformance-to-specification  models  and systems,  which   consist   of  “a  set  of  clearly  defined  clauses  or  characteristics  and

[describe] a basic set of elements for developing and implementing a quality management system.” (Holland: 2000). The purpose of a conformance model is to control each step of a  production process so that products match technical specifications. In other words, the model specifies how an organisation’s activities should be performing so that the output of  the  organisation  is  in  line  with  its  specifications  (as  determined  by  the  organisation itself or by a customer).

Essential  to  this  model  is  the  documentary  evidence  that  proves  that  such  procedures have  been  followed  and  that  quality  has  been  achieved.  Each  step  in  the  process  is tracked  and  documented  procedures  to  be  followed  are  set  out  in  manuals.  These procedure  manuals  describe  an  organisation’s  systems,  and  form  the  basis  of  what  is assessed. So, it is not the actual organisational practices, or inputs, which are assessed, but the conformance of an organisation’s procedures to a standard or specification.

Conformance  may  be  driven  by  external  registered  assessors  who  inspect  both  the procedures manual and the various documents related to these procedures to validate conformance.  In  short,  the  conformance  to  specification  model  is  primarily  concerned with meeting and maintaining specifications, and not with improving these specifications.

In the TQM model, quality is more than just meeting the requirements of particular criteria or standards. Quality, within the TQM model, is about systemic transformation. As well as addressing the meeting of requirements, TQM deals with how criteria are

shaped, how they are met, and who has to meet them. It is far more flexible an approach to quality and views quality in comprehensive ways. It is holistic.

The conformance to specifications approach, as the name indicates, tends to emphasise conformance to predetermined criteria, specifications or standards. These are treated in rather rigid and technical ways and the processes through which such requirements are met are not seen as being of central importance. It is technicist.

As mentioned before, integrating CTS and TQM approaches may be more helpful than polarising them. SAQA has a mandated responsibility to enhance quality in education and training. However, SAQA recognizes that quality management approaches will be developed from both a CTS and a TQM point of view, or from a combination of both.

SAQA, the NQF and Quality

The NQF, the SAQA Act of 1995 and the National Education Policy Act of 1996, among others, are explicit about the proposed orientation to quality within the South African education and training context, and more generally.

At the heart of this orientation is the concept of transformation, which includes:

0     Transformation of policies and policy formulation processes;

0     Transformation of structures and relations among them;

0     The creation of an integrated national framework;

0     Increasing access to and mobility within the education and training system;

0     Developing modes of democratic organisation and practice; and

0     Links to the political, social and economic reconstruction and development of South

African society.

In addition, Regulation R1127, under the SAQA Act of 1995, defines quality in the following way:

The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.

The objectives specified by the Act indicate that the ultimate purposes of QMS are to:

0     Enhance learning in South Africa by increasing the number of learners, the frequency of learning, and the relevance and durability of what is learned.

0     Establish a framework of qualifications and standards that are relevant, credible and accessible.

These expressions of values are consistent with the total quality management (TQM) model, but contain strands of CTS also. The SAQA orientation to quality is generally holistic and focuses on processes that deepen democracy, flexibility within the system and client/learner-centredness; it also has to ensure that specifications of excellence are met.

However, this does not mean that SAQA has only articulated statements of orientation to quality. SAQA has also outlined what it sees as “quality indicators”, particularly in terms of assessing applications from providers. Providers would need to ensure that:

0     Their aims are clear;

0     Processes are identified;

0     Procedures for quality management policies are in place;

0     Sustainability of quality management strategies are in place;

0     They have the ability to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes;

0     They have the necessary financial, administrative and physical resources to deliver their programmes;

0     They have democratic modes of organisation and practice;

0     They have clear learner-centred policies and ways of dealing with learning programmes;

0     They are able to conduct off-site or work-site activities;

0     They have clear policies for assessment and its management; and,

0     Have policies for programme development in terms of content, people, procedures,

practices and resources.

The above indicators are based on the objectives of the NQF, for both qualifications and programs, that providers:

0     Use the standards and integrate theory and practice

0     Utilise suitable learning and assessment processes for the prescribed learning outcomes

0     Better enable individual learners to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the country and the individual’s social-political-economic development

0     Facilitate and enhance access, mobility and progression

0     Redress previous inequities, particularly making available opportunities for those who could not previously access them

0     Periodically collect, store and report information describing achievements for each of the other indicators

Therefore, learner-centredness, relevance, democratic ways of operating, flexibility within the system, increasing access, transparency, accountability, recognition of prior learning and critical learning and teaching styles underpin SAQA’s sense of quality. All

of these are outlined in the SAQA Criteria and Guidelines for Providers document and it

supports the notion of quality development as a ‘process’, rather than a quality management ‘system’, per se.

All of the above features of SAQA’s orientation to quality, may be brought down to five essential categories of criteria for assessment that need to be used to ensure that quality assurance and management exist. These categories of criteria are:

0     Baseline criteria;

0     A quality management continuum;

0     Outputs, inputs and processes;

0     Ongoing improvement, accountability and transparency;

0     Democratic organisation and practice

PLEASE NOTE: It is in the light of the above-mentioned orientation to quality and with an emphasis on quality ‘development’, that the following section should be viewed. SAQA maintains that this document is not meant to be prescriptive with regard to the quality management approaches taken by ETQAs and their constituent providers. Each ETQA, together with its providers, has to take into account the context within which it is functioning and investigate which approach will best suit the needs of the sector.

At the same time, as much as the ETQA and its providers may decide on how to go about developing quality management systems, SAQA has to balance the responsibility of ensuring that the objectives of the NQF are advanced, within a flexible and

developmental approach. The ‘core criteria’ discussed in chapter 4 address the directives as interpreted from the objectives of the NQF. In a sense it gives guidance on the type of

‘evidence’ a quality assurer will look for when an organization is audited. It is therefore meant to give guidance to the ETQA and its providers on the key areas of quality development.

Elaborating On The Core Criteria

This section elaborates on each of the core criteria drawn from the ETQA Regulations

(No R1127 of 1998) that providers should satisfy.

Chapter

4

Table 1 below captures the eight criteria in ways that allow for easy and quick reference. This is followed by an explication and elaboration of the core criteria.

PLEASE NOTE: By using a table, it is not the intention to suggest that the criteria are equally important, but rather that these are elements of quality management systems. The ETQA and its providers will decide on areas where the greatest focus should be, depending on the status of quality management in the sector. For example, it may mean that one ETQA initially decides to focus on ‘Learner and Assessment policies’ (point 6 and 7 in the table), as this may be the most critical quality issue in that particular sector, while another might focus on other core criteria.

Table 1: Core Criteria for Education and Training Providers

Criterion Elaboration
1.  Policy Statement The organisation’s aims, objectives and

purposes need to be spelt out.

2.  Quality management systems Identify processes and outline procedures

that implement quality management in the organisation.

3.  Review mechanisms Outline the ways in which the

implementation of policies would be monitored.

4.  Programme delivery Outline how learning programmes would

be developed, delivered and evaluated.

5.  Staff policies Outline policies and procedures for staff

selection, appraisal and development.

6.  Learner policies Policies and procedures for the selection

of learners are outlined, and learners are given guidance and support.

7.  Assessment policies Outline policies and procedures for forms

of assessments that are used and how they are managed.

8.  Management system and policies Indicate the financial, administrative and

physical structures and resources of the

organisation, as well as procedures of accountability within the organisation.

Some points of clarification may be needed:

0     Firstly, there are overlaps between the criteria as some criteria repeat particular aspects which are picked up by other criteria. A clear example is the reference to applied and integrated competence in Criteria 4, 5 and 7. The overlaps are deliberate, and reflect the nature of QMS as a holistic approach to organisations as systems in which different aspects of the system impact on each other. At the same time, though, the emphasis in each criterion is different and certain key aspects of the organisation

– such as assessment policies and practices – emerge in different ways and from

different perspectives.

0     Secondly, the above criteria are core criteria, and are by no means all the criteria that can or should be used. However, it is proposed that no provider will be accredited if

any of the core criteria are not met. They are core in the sense of being minimum requirements without which accreditation will not be possible.

0     Thirdly, it is recommended that the development of sector-specific criteria is the ongoing responsibility of ETQAs. It should be noted, however, that no sector-specific criteria should contradict any of the core criteria or replace the core criteria. Sector- specific criteria should rather add criteria that are found to be necessary for a given sector. All sector-specific criteria would need to be submitted to SAQA for endorsement.

Criterion 1: Policy statement

The organisation’s aims, objectives and purposes need to be spelt out.

The purpose of an organisation having a policy is to indicate the ways in which the organisation views itself, what it sets out to achieve, who it directs itself towards and, fundamentally, why it believes there is a need for it to exist.

However, given the need for a TQM approach and the existence of the NQF, organisations’ policy statements need to also clearly locate themselves within the values and principles articulated in the NQF. In terms of these, policy statements need to:

0    Show how the organisation is located within the NQF;

0    Show how democratic practices inform the structure, management and operations of

the organisation;

0    Clearly indicate the approach adopted in regard to teaching and learning activities;

and

0    Indicate how ongoing development of activities will be ensured through assessment, auditing, monitoring, research and review practices.

A policy statement is not necessarily a detailed explanation of everything an organisation does, but an expression of the principles upon which an organisation bases itself as well as the ways in which it intends to operate, with whom, and for what purpose.

The following questions may help providers to define their policy statements:

  1. What are the organisation’s values and principles?
  2. How do these values and principles link with those of the NQF?
  3. What are the structures, systems and activities of the organisation that attempt to apply such values and principles?
  4. What is the aim of the organisation?
  5. What does it offer?
  6. To whom is the organisation directed?

Criterion 2: Quality Management Systems

Identify processes and outline procedures that implement quality management in the organisation.

As was noted earlier, ‘quality’ in the TQM, SAQA and NQF senses of the term is intended to mean a holistic, integrated, democratic, process-oriented and flexible approach that would:

0     Enhance learning in South Africa by increasing the number of learners, the frequency of learning, and the relevance and durability of what is learned; and

0     Establish a framework of qualifications and standards that are relevant, credible and accessible.

In order for providers to meet the specification of criterion 2, providers would need to clearly describe the nature of operations within their organisation. How exactly is quality assured in the organisation, on all levels? A clear description of the workings of the organisation and how they assure quality needs to be provided.

The following questions may help the organisation to clarify its quality management processes:

  1. How does the organisation, in practice, create and sustain a quality culture within the organisation?
  2. How are the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of standards used in the organisation ensured?
  3. How is information about the workings of the organisation collected, how often and by whom?
  4. How are learners’ needs actually met?
  5. How often are programmes delivered by the organisation reviewed?
  6. How does the organisation ensure that its facilitators of learning actually possess

the competence to both facilitate the learning effectively and assess learners in ways that are consistent with the NQF?

  1. How does the organisation ensure that learning and assessment activities are

monitored and reviewed?

  1. How does the organisation ensure that what is gathered from reviews, audits

and/or monitoring in fact leads to improvements in the organisation’s activities?

  1. What are the mechanisms the organisation uses to report back to people within the organisation?
  2. How does the organisation ensure that resources available to it are utilised effectively and efficiently, and are used to good effect?
  3. How does the organisation report to and generally relate to the ETQA under which it falls?
  4. How does the organisation relate to other providers in the area that it works

within, if this applies?

As can be seen from the questions above, this criterion requires a fairly comprehensive description of the workings of the organisation in terms of how they do or do not enhance the development of quality and ensure its sustainability within the organisation.

PLEASE NOTE: Accreditation will not be statutorily possible if such QM systems are not in place, or if the organisation (and the ETQA) involved does not have a concrete plan to establish these.

Criterion 3: Review mechanisms

Outline the ways in which the implementation of policies will be monitored, researched, audited and/or reviewed.

In responding to Criterion 3, providers need to provide a detailed account of how, by whom, how often and for what purposes the activities of the organisation will be researched, monitored, audited and/or reviewed.

It has been emphasised that one of the important features of quality within the TQM approach is a developmental emphasis. This criterion is important because organisations can only develop if they monitor and review their own activities.

Various options exist in this regard, including external evaluations, the use of moderators, internal review and monitoring systems, assessments, appraisals, research, and auditing.

Providers need to provide a clear description of what system they have in place, how it operates in practice and what its concrete achievements are. Also included here should be a clear indication of how such review findings get fed back into the organisation so that improvements are operationalised.

In order to generate such a description, providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. What are the review, monitoring, research and/or auditing mechanisms the organisation has in place?
  2. How do these mechanisms work?
  3. How often are they carried out?
  4. By whom?
  1. How are review findings reported back within the organisation?
  2. How do the review findings inform improvements in the organisation?

Criterion 4: Programme delivery

Outline how learning programmes would be developed, delivered and evaluated.

At the heart of providers’ activities are the programmes that they deliver. This, more than anything else, establishes the rationale for the existence of the provider in the first

instance. A ‘provider’ is a ‘provider’ because it offers particular programmes to people for which they may gain qualifications. It is therefore critical that providers give a clear

and coherent description of the ways in which the delivery of their programmes happen in

practice.

Given that the establishment of the NQF is aimed at transforming the nature of education and training, particularly at the level of programme delivery, it is also crucial for

providers to be able to relate their descriptions of their programme delivery to NQF

principles.

The following questions may be helpful to providers to identify ways in which they can fulfil the requirements of Criterion 4:

  1. What is the nature of the programmes the organisation delivers?
  2. What is the NQF status of the programmes (e.g. NQF level 5)?
  3. What are the components (for example, programme modules) that make up the programmes?
  4. How often are the programmes delivered, and what is the duration in notional

learning hours?

  1. What are the modes used in the delivery of the programmes? (For example, the

use of group work, opportunities to learn in the workplace, or the role of distance learning would be described at this point.)

  1. To what extent is the delivery of the programmes flexible?
  2. How is learner-centredness ensured in the delivery of the programmes?
  3. How does programme delivery ensure that the programmes are relevant to

learners?

  1. How are learners assessed during the programme delivery? How often? By whom?
  2. How are learners given feedback on their performance during the delivery of programmes and what forms does this take?
  3. How are resources planned for the delivery of programmes?

An additional range of rather deeper questions is suggested in a recent research report relating to teacher education programmes:

  1. The programme practices must develop in learners an applied and integrated competence:

0     A programme should ensure that learners are able to integrate (horizontally) the knowledge and skills delivered through the different courses or modules that make up the programme.

0     A programme should also ensure that learners are able to integrate (vertically)

the following dimensions of competence:

? The ability, in an authentic context, to consider a range of possibilities for action, make considered decisions about which possibility to follow, and to perform the chosen action (a practical competence);

? The theoretical basis for and the knowledge which underpins and informs the action taken (foundational competence); and

? The ability to connect decision-making and performance (practical

competence) with understanding (foundational competence) and use this to adapt to change or unforeseen circumstances, to innovate within one’s own practice, and to explain the reasons behind these innovations and adaptations (reflexive competence).

  1. The programme should be conceptualised and delivered in a manner that integrates theory and practice, and strengthens provider-workplace linkages.

0     A programme should work closely with relevant workplaces in order to develop learner skills.

0     Relevant work experience should be linked to the rest of the programme, and students should be well prepared for it. Work experience should be integral to the programme and not an ‘add-on’.

  1. The programme – and the programme ethos – should support lifelong learning in concrete ways.

0     Learners, for example, might be involved in programme design and implementation, either formally (for example through decision-making structures) or informally (for example, by making decisions regarding the nature of their assignments).

0     Relevant learner-initiated activity might be recognised towards the

qualification.

0     Assignments should be designed to encourage problem solving within authentic contexts.

0     A programme should prioritise and teach critical engagement, reasoning and reflective thinking.

0     A programme should ground teaching in a wider social, economic and

political understanding and awareness.

0     The provider should have a workable strategy for the recognition of prior

learning (RPL).

  1. The programme provider should adopt inductive rather than deductive approaches to programme design, or at least motivate why deductive approaches to programme design are justified:

0     A programme should be designed on the basis of research, and some or all of this research should be conducted among target learners.

0     Conversely, a programme should not be designed through an exclusively

deductive ‘desktop’ exercise.

Though this latter range of questions was developed through research into teacher education programmes, they are clearly relevant to any learning programme. The emphasis in this criterion is on the nature of the learning and teaching process itself, including the assessment process. This criterion is central to ensuring that education and training practices in the delivery of programmes by providers are in accordance with NQF principles.

PLEASE NOTE: Accreditation will not be statutorily possible if these principles are not followed, or, at the very least, if providers have not identified the need to locate their programme delivery in NQF terms and developed a plan for implementation.

Criterion 5: Staff Policies

Outline the policies and procedures for staff selection, appraisal and development.

The emphasis in Criterion 5 is on the organisation’s relations with it own staff. Providers will need to indicate whether their staff members are competent to carry out their roles as facilitators, and how they know whether this is the case. They would also need to relate this assessment of competence to NQF principles.

With regard to employment procedures, providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. What criteria are used in the staff selection process?
  2. Who selects staff in the organisation?
  3. What selection procedures are followed?
  4. To what extent are the stipulations of the Employment Equity Act of 1998 respected in the selection process?

In terms of meeting the requirements of staff in terms of the NQF, providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. To what extent does staff possess applied and integrated competences as education and training development practitioners? (See also references to applied and integrated competence in Criterion 4 above.)
  2. How does staff ensure the integration of theory and practice in the delivery of the programme? (Here questions of work experience to develop

practical understandings of relevant theories, or the use of simulated work environments, and, generally, strategies to ensure the development of applied competence among learners need to be addressed.)

  1. To what extent does the provider ensure that all staff has access to

ongoing forms of professional development and that they are themselves

‘lifelong learners’? (Here the emphasis is on the development and self- improvement of staff and on the procedures providers have in place to

ensure that this happens within the organisation.)

  1. To what extent do organisations ensure that their staff members design

their activities in ways that are informed by the organisation’s mechanisms of review, research, monitoring and/or auditing? (In other words, are teaching and learning methods informed by reflections on existing practices, or do activities continue unchanged despite the findings of reviews, research, monitoring and/or auditing in the organisation? Does staff decide on changes in programme delivery purely on the basis of intuition? Or is intuition informed by research into and feedback received on how well or how poorly a programme is being delivered?)

  1. How does the organisation ensure that its staff is competent to carry out assessment activities in ways that are both applied and integrated? (Staff competence in assessment practices is key in the life of learners, since this is the basis upon which learners are qualified. It is, therefore, critical that facilitators are adequately skilled to carry out this function effectively and efficiently. Since, in NQF terms, assessment is cast within the framework of lifelong learning and integration, assessment here refers to ways in which continuous assessment can inform the teaching and learning

process, through, for example, learner portfolios. See also references to the assessment of applied and integrated competence in Criterion 7 below.)

The purpose of Criterion 5 is clearly to ensure that policy on staff selection and appraisal should be informed by principles of increased access and respect for employment equity policy, as well as ensuring the transformation of education and training practices and adherence to NQF principles.

Criterion 6: Learner policies

Policies and procedures for the selection of learners are outlined, and learners are given guidance and support.

The focus of Criterion 6 is on learners. Issues of selection of learners, the extent to which their needs are met and what support and guidance they are given need to be explicitly described. Here providers need to be mindful of the following key NQF principles with regard to learners:

0    Learner-centredness

0    Learner participation

0    Relevance of the programmes to learners

0    Recognition of prior learning

0    Lifelong learning

In order to show how these NQF principles are being applied, providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. How are learners selected for the programme?
  2. To what extent do such selection procedures recognise the prior learning learners have?
  3. What is the demographic composition of the learner population? (Gender and race are clearly crucial, but attention should also be given to how learners from outlying areas are attended to, and to poverty indices.)
  4. Is the organisation planning to diversify the demographic composition of the learner population, taking into account historical disadvantages and discrimination?
  5. How does the provider ensure that the programme is relevant to the needs and aspirations of the learners?
  6. How does the delivery of the programme encourage learner participation?
  7. How does the organisation identify the nature of support learners require?
  8. What support is given to learners?
  9. What guidance is offered to learners? Why?
  10. How are opportunities for further learning provided for by the organisation?
  11. How, by whom and how often are learners given feedback on their performance?

Criterion 7: Assessment Policies

Outline the policies and procedures for the forms of assessment used and how they are managed.

Assessment policies are more than assessment practices. They include assessment practices but go beyond them as well. Assessment policies describe the approaches that are used by an organisation in its assessment practices. For example, are assessment approaches mainly examination-based? Do assessment policies recognise principles of lifelong learning, recognition of prior learning and integration of theory and practice? Are assessment policies informed by understandings of notions of failure and deficits or do they work in developmental, supportive and continuous ways? As such, assessment

policies need to indicate what approach the organisation adopts with regard to assessment and whether this approach is in line with NQF principles.

Assessment policies also outline how the processes of assessment will be managed: – by whom, how and how often. They include internal assessment, external assessment, moderation, provision of feedback to learners and maintaining records of assessment. They also include ways in which support that learners may require are identified and ways in which support is provided. Thus, assessment policies should not be conflated with assessment practices, although they include them.

In order to meet the requirement of Criterion 7, providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. What is the organisation’s approach to assessment?
  2. Is the organisation’s approach consistent with NQF principles?
  3. How does the organisation’s assessment policy incorporate principles of lifelong learning, recognition of prior learning and integration of theory and

practice?

  1. How are assessments conducted, by whom and how often?
  2. What are the mechanisms that the organisation puts into place to assure the quality of assessments conducted? Are moderators used for assessments?
  3. Are policies and procedures for possible appeals in place?
  4. How are learners given feedback on the ways in which they have been assessed? How does this occur? Who does it, and how often?
  5. How does the organisation ensure that assessments are used to identify and provide for the support and guidance learners need?
  6. How are assessment results fed back into programme development?

Finally (see also the references to the development of competence in Criterion 4), the assessment practices of a programme must be applied and integrated. Therefore:

0     A programme should assess whether learners are able to integrate (horizontally) the knowledge and skills delivered through the different courses or modules, which make up the programme.

0     A programme should also assess whether learners are able to integrate (vertically) the dimensions of competence referred to in Criterion 4. In brief, these are:

? Practical competence;

? Foundational competence; and

? Reflexive competence.

0     The assessment strategy should assess the extent to which learners have the ability to apply what they have learned in authentic and changing South African contexts.

0     Assessment should be ongoing and developmental.

Criterion 8: Management Systems and Policies

Indicate the financial, administrative and physical resources of the organisation, as well as procedures of accountability within the organisation.

Criterion 8 refers to the managerial capacity of the provider to carry out its functions. The provider would need to indicate its capacity to deliver the programme effectively and efficiently and in an accountable manner.

However, given the enormous differences in size, type and focus of providers, this criterion must be carefully contextualized, taking into account, for example, the management of partnerships in the delivery of programmes. In the Criteria and Guidelines for Providers document, different types of providers are identified, i.e.

‘delivery only site; assessment only site’, etc. In addition, there is also an awareness of

SMME providers, which may include an individual as a provider.

In this regard providers may find the following questions helpful:

  1. What is the management and administrative structure of the organisation?
  2. How are decisions taken in the organisation, by whom and in relation to what?
  3. What is the financial resource base of the organisation? What are the sources of funding? Does the organisation have a plan to become self- sustaining, if it is not already?
  4. Does the organisation have adequate human and material resources to carry out its intended functions?
  5. What are the systems used by the organisation to manage and be accountable for its finances?
  6. More generally, to what extent is the organisation run in ways that are transparent and accountable?

Chapter

5

Conclusion

SAQA has published ‘core criteria’ in Criteria and Guidelines for Providers which providers should satisfy for the purpose of accreditation, in line with the ETQA Regulations (R1127) of 1998.

This document supports Criteria and Guidelines for Providers, and in addition sets out:

0     The findings of research conducted among providers as it relates to quality management approaches

0     Examples of dominant quality management systems

0     SAQA’s approach to quality, particularly in terms of the recognition that quality management is a developmental process with the added notion of continuous

improvement

0     The notion of context-sensitivity – this document does not try to promote a ‘one-

size-fits-all’ quality management approach. It recognizes that sectors, providers and modes of delivery will differ substantially, but that all providers will have to meet the minimum criteria to meet statutory requirements

0     Guidelines on the interpretation of core SAQA criteria relating to providers

0     It also includes suggestions for the development of sector-specific criteria, if these are found to be necessary in particular sectors.

SAQA operates necessarily within a mixed quality management approach, making use of elements of total quality management and conformance to specifications paradigms. It is critical that ETQAs and providers, in turn, also adopt a balanced approach.

Acknowledging the need for substantial change processes over time within provider organisations, this document also suggests that SAQA will emphasise quality development as much as quality management, which means that designing, for example,

strategies for overseeing the provision of support among providers in the establishment of effective quality management systems, are essential.

Bibliography

Paul Musker and Associates:

Research for the South African Qualifications Authority: 2000

Research report: Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers

(011) 403 4111

  1. Holland, M. (2000). A Review of Quality Management and Quality Assurance Models for South African Providers. Johannesburg: Paul Musker and Associates for the South African Qualifications Authority
  2. Musker, P. (1999). Educator Development and Support Project – Final Report.

Johannesburg: Paul Musker and Associates for the Joint Education Trust and the

Department of Education.

Revworth Consulting:

Research for Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority: 2001

Research Report: Quality Management Systems

(011) 609 2143

  1. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)

www.nist.org

  1. European Quality Award www.euroqual.org
  2. Australian Quality Awards Assessment Criteria (1995)
  3. The Koalaty Kid Programme

www.koalatykid.org and www.successthroughquality.com/education

  1. Edwards Deming Institute www.deming.org
  2. Scholtz, H.D. (2001) Quality management systems for education and training
  3. International Standards Organisation (ISO) family of documents (2000): South

African Bureau of Standards

  1. Investors in People www.iipuk.co.uk
  2. South African Business Excellence Foundation (SAEF)

www.saef.org.za

  1. The Balanced Scorecard Institute

www.balancedscorecard.org

  1. SQMS Guideline Document for the Scottish Qualifications Authority: Scottish

Enterprise

Documents:

SAQA: (012) 482 0800

  1. Criteria and Guidelines for Providers. SAQA: Pretoria (2001)
  2. Quality Management Systems for ETQAs. SAQA: Pretoria (2000)
  3. Norms and Standards for Educators. Pretoria: Department of Education (1998)

Annexure A

Research brief:

The South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) commissioned Paul Musker and Associates (PMA) to conduct research among providers and ETQAs to ascertain how the following issues are perceived and experienced:

o   General issues related to QMS;

o   Paradigms in quality management and quality assurance;

o   Elements that would constitute a new QMS model; and

o   The SAQA quality template.

The following are the findings: (p34 – 42)

1 Feasibility and Receptiveness

By and large attitudes to the development of a quality management model were favourable, though important reservations were expressed. General overarching comments related to:

0     Concerns about the cost of quality management systems.

0     The lack of a consensual definition of quality in education.

0     The multiplicity of structures responsible for quality in different sectors.

0     Divergent opinions across the various groups as to whether there should be one overarching quality management model or different models for different sectors and even for different types of provider.

0     The need for a framework for quality management, rather than a model, on the grounds that a framework would allow for context-sensitivity and allow for the development of local

solutions to quality management requirements.

2 The Tendency Towards Conformance Models

Extracts from the higher education focus group report illustrate a concern in that sector regarding the continuing predominance of a ‘conformance to specifications’ model. New pressures in this regard are seen to be emanating from the Department of Labour4, and from the Department of Education’s three-year planning requirement.

3 Support for a Mixed Model

Several groups challenged the neatness of the distinction between total quality management

(TQM) and conformance to specifications (CTS) models:

0     The private training providers argued explicitly for an integrated model.

0     Workplace-based providers gave examples of how they already have a mixed model, in that conformance is required by external agencies, while internal company strategies are often related to TQM or similar quality approaches.

4 See Holland, M. (2000). A Review of South African ETQA Quality Management and Quality Assurance

Models. Johannesburg: Paul Musker and Associates for the South African Qualifications Authority.

4 Support for an Adapted Conformance Model

Several groups (private training providers, workplace-based providers and independent schools) argued for a conformance model, or an adapted conformance model which encourages ‘reflection, improvement and transformation’. Their reasons differed:

0     The private training providers argued for a ‘fitness for purpose’ approach which ‘satisfies the market that you are preparing your students for’.

0     The independent schools group defended the need to ensure ‘functionality’ in South African schools as a minimum legislative requirement.

The workplace-based providers argued that quality management systems are an internal organisational affair, since they are a competitive tool, and that therefore a conformance to specifications model is required to establish minimum requirements across providers.

5 Arguments Against a Conformance Model

The arguments against a conformance to specifications model were not generally linked to support for TQM:

0     The department of education respondents presented the most explicit argument against the use of conformance approaches in education, since education is not comparable to a production process, and emphasised the role of unit standards and for institutions to become

‘self-evaluative’.

0     The independent schools group found TQM ‘too managerial and mechanistic’, and favoured a continuous ‘school improvement process’ in which ‘there is no end point’.

0     The independent schools noted, however, that their opposition to TQM were more to do with the connotations of the term than with the content set out in the Holland literature review5, and in effect argued for a mixed model.

6 The Difficulties of a Single Quality Management Model

Various groups expressed concern about the generation of a single, generic quality management model, for a variety of reasons:

0     delivery modes are diverse;

0     institutional types are diverse; and

0     different departments within institutions are diverse

7 Quality Improvement versus Window Dressing

Other powerful critiques were levelled against the SAQA quality template by the department of education and higher education respondents:

0     The department of education respondents argued that the template does not address sufficiently the need to intervene directly to make a difference to the quality of delivery in the classroom, which they described as the most critical gap. Unless the model attempts to understand holistically what teachers do in order to promote good quality learning, the documentation required is regarded by this group as so much window-dressing.

0     The higher education respondents agreed with one respondent, who argued that

the template as it stands is potentially just a lot of documents. I would like to put more time and energy into four or five strategic focus areas. The template could force us to spread

5 Holland, M. (2000). A Review of Quality Management and Quality Assurance Models for South African

Providers. Johannesburg: Paul Musker and Associates for the South African Qualifications Authority.

ourselves too thinly. I would prefer our own internal quality management system, with key focus areas that we identify … It could be the same old problem – we accumulate documents and send them through. The old cynical approach.

0     The higher education group added that the effort of generating the documentation must be matched by a corresponding level of discussion and feedback.

8 The Importance of Stakeholders

All respondents agreed that stakeholder involvement in quality management is crucial, with some cautions as follows:

0     That stakeholder involvement does not usually happen spontaneously, particularly in rural areas, and structures therefore need to be created.

0     That the capacity which needs to be built must be determined from the internal provider’s perspective.

0     That parents, as key stakeholders in the schooling sector, need to be aware of their own role in the learning process.

0     That very divergent stakeholder opinion needs to be carefully managed.

0     That a balance needs to be struck between a ‘democratic culture’ of participatory management and the need for a rapid response to ensure global competitiveness, which may mean that ‘short-circuit’ mechanisms [may be needed to] take as many people as possible through the shortest decision-making routes.

9 The Involvement of Learners

All the groups devoted especial attention to the role of learners in a quality management system. The following points summarise the various discussions:

0     That learners need to learn to be part of the quality management system.

0     That learner counselling and the recognition of prior learning are aspects of the quality of education and training on offer.

0     That formal structures are crucial in the successful involvement of learners.

0     That learners should be involved in the evaluation of teachers, programmes and facilities, and this should form part of a culture of feedback and reflection leading to concrete actions.

0     That learner performance in work experience is a crucial indication of quality, though the information is difficult to obtain.

Two groups, however, raised difficulties regarding the involvement of learners:

0     The workplace-based providers argued that … the extent to which you can involve learners depends on the complexity of the organisation.

0     The further education and training group were unanimous in their opinion that it would be difficult to have learners involved to any high level in QM processes – for a whole range of reasons: lack of knowledge, lack of time, or the need to commit to studies.

10 Teaching and Learning Strategies

The independent schools group noted the importance of allowing for different teaching and learning styles, suggesting that schools should be required to state their particular teaching and learning approach and comment on how they allow for diversity.

The workplace-based providers suggested that providers should be asked:

0     how they assess their trainers/teachers;

0     how they assess their learners; and

0     how they assess the effectiveness of their learning materials.

11 The Gathering of Evidence

Respondents offered a wide range of comments on how evidence of quality should be gathered, as well as the nature of evidence that is important:

0     Through research which feeds back into modes of delivery, programme development and teaching practice.

0     Through regular, cyclical, continuous assessment of learners.

0     By breaking the auditing pattern to avoid internal complacency.

0     Through assessment which gives learners useful feedback on progress.

0     Through 3-5 year review processes to ensure that the larger processes are still on track.

0     Through longitudinal studies to track progress.

0     Through auditing processes which examine the variables which could bring about improvement.

0     By gathering data on the quality of transformation and organisational change, including the

degree of participation in and ownership of strategic goal-setting exercises.

0     By assessing processes as well as outputs, building capacity to identify the causes of levels of achievement, not only the achievement results.

0     Through peer reviews.

With regard to peer review processes, two cautions were expressed. The private provider group noted that peers are in fact competitors, which introduces a different dynamic. The higher education group noted that peer review can result in uncontextualised recommendations, particularly when an under-resourced institution is evaluated by a more advantaged one.

Several groups emphasised self-evaluation as a central strategy in the development of a quality management system:

0    Personnel inside the organisation should be trained in evaluation, to complement the work of external auditors.

0    Communication and consultation strategies should be conscious and not assumed.

0    Defining the ETQA as an enabler, an interpreter of regulations and a support as well as the body which audits the self-assessment processes of providers.

12 Redress and Special Support

The ETQA focus group pointed out that nothing in the SAQA quality template addresses issues such as redress and special support for identified groups in any explicit way.

13 Global Competitiveness and Local Employability

One group (the independent schools respondents) emphasised the need to attend, in a quality management strategy, to global competitiveness (and therefore international standards) as well as

local employability (and therefore vocationally oriented strategies).

14 The Importance of Ethos

One group (the independent schools respondents) noted the absence of any reference to ethos in the list of SAQA quality elements.

15 Identity Crises

Several groups problematised the notion of ‘customer’, arguing, for example, that often the learner is only the immediate customer, behind whom lies an array of ultimate customers in society at large. One group (departments of education) noted that the identity of the ‘provider’ is also not always clear.

16 Lack of Capacity

The issue of implementation capacity arose again and again. One independent school respondent, commenting specifically on the SAQA quality template, expressed the opinion that its implementation in many schools would be equivalent to flying to the moon.

In other groups respondents expressed pessimism regarding institutional capacity to implement the principles set out in the quality template, for various reasons:

0     lack of time;

0     data gathering is not a business priority;

0     lack of capacity because of the size of the organisation;

0     lack of departmental support (FET sector);

0     excessive demands in terms of policy and legislation; and

0     quality demands are seen as management demands.

Additionally, respondents from the university sector cautioned against introducing a quality system which ignores what has already been achieved in recent innovations and places an unwarranted strain on capacity.

17 The Need for Support

The following extracts from focus group reports (taken from the discussion of ‘general issues in the quality debate’) illustrate that providers of education and training in several sectors feel strongly that intensive support of various kinds is required in the development of quality management systems. For example:

0     Without a much higher level of commitment and support from national, the further education and training (FET) respondents felt that the FET sector will not be able to pick up the ball and contribute to the national drive towards quality in education and training.

0     FET respondents argued that urban institutions were generally up to speed while the further one moved from the cities the less the institutions were resourced and prepared for the changes ahead.

0     The independent schools group pleaded for all bodies involved in quality assurance to get together and speak to each other about what they are doing, and developing a common direction.

0     The higher education group argued for support as well as audits, and that SAQA should be involved in establishing a more developmental approach to the three-year [planning] requirements.

0     A small number of respondents expressed their frustration at being confused and unable to get the criteria for providers from SAQA in order to try to get accreditation. They also requested copies of documents such as ‘Criteria and Guidelines for Providers’ which would help them to understand what they needed to do to as providers.

0     Private training providers asked what SAQA could do to facilitate greater communication across the sector, particularly to discuss SAQA related issues and ways to respond to these.

0     The private training providers suggested that SAQA should do the following:

o   Have a well staffed Customer Relations Office to help with queries, give advice and assistance

o   Simplify the guidelines and publicise and distribute them broadly

o   Give more direction to providers

18 Reiterating the Need for Support (I)

In the discussion of ‘elements of a new quality management model’, the need for support strategies for providers in the development of quality management systems was once again a central theme:

0     Audits should be constructive, identifying what is being done well and including help in correcting problems and putting down timeframes for such corrective action.

0     Assistance is needed to develop self-assessment strategies and ‘quality management standards’.

19 Reiterating the Need for Support (II)

In the discussion of the SAQA ‘quality template’, the need for support strategies was again a

recurring theme, with particularly detailed arguments emerging in the independent schools and

ETQA groups:

0     The independent schools group found the SAQA quality template very sophisticated … even within our sector.

0     The same group argued that the template needs to be divided into two components. The first would contain minimum legislative requirements to ensure functionality; the second would contain requirements which would initially be optional, but which providers would have to evolve towards.

0     The ETQA group argued that providers should be allowed to evolve towards advancing levels of quality management rather than imposing an unsustainable list of demands on all providers, irrespective of size or capacity. They proposed that providers should be assisted to establish the criteria for their own accreditation. Once the agreed upon level is achieved, the next milestones would be negotiated. Providers, they argued, should be able to expect guidance and support in their efforts to become part of the national system.

0     There was unanimous agreement in the same group that flexibility in implementation was critical, and that, for the next while at least, quality management should be an individualised process of continual improvement for providers rather than an absolute externally imposed.

0     The independent schools group argued for

... a culture of commitment … A good example of a simple question to ask a provider would be ‘What do you do to monitor the quality of education in your school?’ You want to get people thinking about how their provider institutionalises reviews and reflective processes. SAQA cannot ask too much at this point, it is counterproductive. What a good starting point might be is to not assess quality per se, but to assess what procedures and systems are in place.

0     The same group agreed that the function of the body overseeing this process is, for the time being, not so much one of inspection as stimulation, guidance, and encouragement: Assessment comes afterwards. A system of temporary accreditation might be necessary.

SAQA: Application for recognition as Standards Generating Body

Application for recognition as Standards Generating Body

[b]Download the policy form the SAQA website here:[/b]
http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/sgb-recognition.pdf

SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY

APPLICATION

FOR RECOGNITION AS A STANDARDS GENERATING BODY

&

CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING APPLICATIONS FOR

STANDARDS GENERATING BODY (SGB) RECOGNITION WITHIN THE NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK

Table of Contents

Application for Recognition as a Standards Generating Body

Description of Applicant (Organization) and Proposed Scope of Standards

Generation ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 3

Knowledge, Skills, and Values Area (Sub-Field) to be Covered

by the Proposed SGB ………………………………………………………………………………. 6

User Support…………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

Declaration……………………………………………………………………………………………… 8

Attachment 1: Example of a Titles Matrix …………………………………………………… 9

Attachment 2: Sub-fields for the National Qualifications Framework …………….10

Criteria for Evaluating Applications for Standards Generating Body (SGB) Recognition within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 13

Scope of Standards Generation ……………………………………………………………….. 16

Status of the Applicant …………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Role of the Applicant ……………………………………………………………………………….. 20

Sub-field Coverage ………………………………………………………………………………… 22

Leadership Capacity ………………………………………………………………………………. 24

NSB Decision………………………………………………………………………………………… 26

Attachment 3: Objectives of the National Qualifications Framework …………… 27

Attachment 4: Process for SGB Recognition ……………………………………… 28

Application for Recognition as a Standards Generating Body

Section 1:    Description of Applicant (Organization) and Proposed

Scope of Standards Generation

1.1       Name of the proposed SGB

1.2.      Name of applicant (group or organization)

1.3.      Group’s/organization’s postal and physical address, and contact details

1.4.      List clearly the standards and/or qualifications your group aims to generate and the levels at which they will be generated. This can be done in the form of a titles matrix which may be added as an attachment. See Attachment 1,

Titles matrix.

1.5.      State, briefly, why you believe these standards and qualifications are

necessary. What purpose will they serve?

1.6.      Will your standards and qualifications be of significance locally (community or

enterprise), nationally, and/or internationally? Elaborate.

1.7.      How do you plan to compare the content and level of difficulty of your standards and/or qualifications with international equivalents, where

applicable?

1.8.      Describe the legal status and membership of your group. (For membership, provide CVs and other endorsements of expertise applicable to the work of standards generation in this area.)

Attachment:                Yes                              No

1.9.       Name the national key education and training stakeholder interest groups

you represent.

Briefly describe the consultative process you followed to achieve this (level of)

representation.

1.10.    Describe the role or function of your group in the sub-field.

Attachment:                Yes                              No

Is this role consistent with realizing the objectives of the NQF? Describe your transformative contribution to the sub-field.

1.11.    Describe, briefly, other project work your group, or its members, have undertaken in the past.

Attachment::               Yes                              No

Tel:                                                         
Fax:                                                         
e-mail:                                                         

1.12.    Official contact officer:                                                                                  

Communication:

Section 2:    Knowledge, Skills, and Values Area (Sub-Field) to be

Covered by the Proposed SGB

2.1.      Identification of the knowledge, skills, and values area:

  1. Name the sub-field to be covered by your proposed SGB. (The list of sub- fields in Attachment 2 may be helpful to you in this regard.)
  1. Name any other group(s) who may have an interest in your specialist area, and describe the formal processes you will set up for consultation with it/them.

Attachment::                     Yes                              No

iii.  Name any other areas in which your proposed SGB has an interest.

2.2.      Submit a business plan indicating how your proposed standards generation will be funded.

Attachment                 Yes                              No

2.3       Submit a brief project plan for standards generation in the sub-field.

Attachment:                Yes                              No

Section 3:     User Support

3.1.      Name other groups in your specialist area who give their support to this application.

Attachment:                Yes                              No

3.2.      Name other groups in your specialist area who have not yet given their support to this application, and explain why.

Attachment:                Yes                              No

3.3.      Name all the groups who have licensing, certification and/or legislative responsibilities in your specialist area.

Attachment:                Yes                              No

Section 4:     Declaration

Declaration by authorized person:

0  I certify that the information contained in this application is correct.

0  I understand that the standards and qualifications which my group proposes to generate must conform to the requirements of SAQA (be in line with the National Standards Bodies Regulations and the Criteria for the Generation and Evaluation of Qualifications and Standards within the National Qualifications Framework) and its Code of Conduct as set out in its NSB Manual.

0  I undertake to inform SAQA within fourteen days of the date entered below of any changes which may in the future be made to the facts and intentions I present in this application.

Signature                                                                 Date

ATTACHMENT 1

Example of a Titles Matrix

A titles matrix, in the context of standards setting, is a matrix containing a list of unit standards titles. In the following example, unit standards titles are organized under the categories of fundamental, core and elective learning into a qualification.

National Diploma in Retail Product and Service Management – NQF Level 5
Fundamental

Learning

Core Learning Elective Learning

Negotiating

Writing business reports

Managing integrated data

Managing Stock Developing customer service policy Managing cash and credit transactions Managing merchandise policy

Developing and implementing promotion policy

Consumables

Food

Clothing, textiles, footwear and accessories

Furniture, computer equipment and appliances

ATTACHMENT 2

Sub-fields for the National Qualifications Framework

NSB 01     AGRICULTURE AND NATURE CONSERVATION

Primary Agriculture Secondary Agriculture Nature Conservation

Forestry and Wood Technology

Horticulture

NSB 02     CULTURE AND ARTS

Design Studies Visual Arts Performing Arts Cultural Studies Music

Sport

Film, Television and Video

NSB 03     BUSINESS, COMMERCE AND MANAGEMENT STUDIES

Finance, Economics and Accounting

Generic Management Human Resources Marketing Procurement

Office Administration Public Administration Project Management Public Relations

NSB 04     COMMUNICATION STUDIES AND LANGUAGE

Communication Studies Information Studies Language

Literature

NSB 05     EDUCATION, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Schooling

Higher Education and Training Early Childhood Development Adult Learning

NSB 06     MANUFACTURING, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY

Engineering and Related Design Manufacturing and Assembly Fabrication and Extraction

NSB 07     HUMAN AND SOCIAL STUDIES

Environmental Relations

General Social Science

Industrial and Organizational Governance and Human resource Development

People/Human-centred Development

Public Policy, Politics and Democratic Citizenship Religious and Ethical Foundations of Society Rural and Agrarian Studies

Traditions, History and Legacies

Urban and Regional Studies

NSB 08     LAW, MILITARY SCIENCE AND SECURITY

Safety in Society Justice in Society Sovereignty of the State

NSB 09     HEALTH SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Preventive Health

Promotive Health and Developmental Services

Curative Health

Rehabilitative Health/Services

NSB 10     PHYSICAL, MATHEMATICAL, COMPUTER AND LIFE SCIENCES

Mathematical Sciences

Physical Sciences

Life Sciences

Information Technology and Computer Sciences

Earth and Space Sciences

Environmental Sciences

NSB 11     SERVICES

Hospitality, Tourism, Travel, Gaming and Leisure

Transport, Operations and Logistics

Personal Care Wholesale and Retail Consumer Services

NSB 12     PHYSICAL PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTION

Physical Planning, Design and Management

Building Construction

Civil Engineering Construction

Electrical Infrastructure Construction

CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING APPLICATIONS FOR STANDARDS GENERATING BODY (SGB) RECOGNITION WITHIN THE

NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK (NQF)

Introduction

If the quality of the qualifications and standards that are to be generated by SGBs is to have any chance of being of a consistently high standard across sub-fields within an organizing field and across all twelve organizing fields of the NQF, it is important that all National Standards Bodies (NSBs) apply the same criteria in recognizing the bodies (SGBs) that will generate those standards. The application of a consistent set of criteria in evaluating applications for SGB recognition cannot guarantee the consistent quality of standards generation; but it will

enhance the legitimacy of the standards generating process; and

go some way towards ensuring that all SGBs have an equal chance of generating high quality standards.

By the same token, it is imperative that all NSBs apply the same criteria in evaluating the qualifications and standards generated by SGBs. To this end, SAQA has developed “Criteria for the Generation and Evaluation of Qualifications and

Standards within the National Qualifications Framework”, the accompaniment to the present document and the next evaluative step in the standards setting process.

The criteria below are organized into five categories:

  1. 1. Scope of Standards Generation
  2. 2. Status of the Applicant
  3. 3. Role of the Applicant
  4. 4. Sub-field Coverage; and
  5. 5. Leadership

The criteria outlined in this document are not in the form of a check list. They are designed to help SGB recognition evaluators to probe and interrogate the quality of the application.

The criteria are, therefore, in the form of questions. Each question is followed by a section that provides:

the type(s) of evidence required boxes for yes/no responses; and

space for evaluators to qualify their responses. At the end of the document is a “Decision” page which:

records the NSB decision

records the brief for successful applicants; and

provides reasons in the case of unsuccessful applications.

The completed evaluation documents can, therefore, form a part of the evaluation records, be used for any feedback process and be used for review purposes.

This document should be used in conjunction with the attached SAQA table (Attachment 4) outlining the “Process for SGB Recognition”. The table will inform the way in which one uses the Evaluation document.

Each evaluator involved in evaluating the application will process different aspects of the application.

Thus, for example, the NSB Co-ordinator will him/herself deploy some of the SGB recognition criteria in the initial screening of an SGB application, and may communicate to the SGB applicant deficiencies in the application to be remedied before the NSB Sub-committee for SGBs scrutinizes the application. This will ensure that:

a developmental approach to applications is taken; and

NSB time is not wasted in screening inadequately formulated or poorly conceptualised applications.

In the final analysis the criteria are a guide whose collective use should ensure the most efficient processing of an application for SGB recognition.

Fast Tracking the Registration of Qualifications and Standards (SAQA 0129/00)

In order to fast track the registration of qualifications and standards on the NQF and to eliminate unreasonable blockages and unnecessary delays, NSBs shall ensure that:

Standards Generating Bodies can be established to generate qualifications not based on unit standards, using Regulation 22(5), to generate provider-specific qualifications and generic qualification standards. This will mean that each institutional provider can send the names of proposed SGB members and their curricula vitae to SAQA for the wide consultation process. The SGBs set up in

this way should ensure that their work articulates appropriately with FET and HET

bodies, professional boards and councils and with industry.

Standards Generating Body proposals as well as qualifications or standards should not remain in the system for longer than two months. This will be monitored by the Director for Standards Setting and Development. If this should occur, the Director will, after consultation with the chairperson of the NSB concerned and the Standards and Qualifications Sub-committee, refer the matter to the Authority via the Executive Officer for decisions on registration by SAQA itself.

Smooth Transition from Interim Registration to Full Registration (SAQA

0229/00)

To ensure a smooth transition from interim registration [Regulation 11] to full registration [Regulation 10], the NSBs shall ensure that interimly registered qualifications and standards are reviewed [by NSBs] in terms of Regulation 10(3) no later than 30 July 2002. Such reviews shall determine:

which qualifications and standards will be discontinued when their interim registration lapses on 30 June 2003

which qualifications and standards will be prioritized for undergoing a standards generation process by an SGB in each case, either through recognition of an SGB proposal as a result of a stakeholder’s application or through establishment following deliberation by the NSB concerned or SAQA, in terms of requirements for the further development and implementation of the NQF; and

which qualifications and standards will, in light of satisfactory quality assurance information and the human resource capacity available at the time for new standards generation, be granted registration for a period of three years (beyond

30 June 2003).

Completion of Discontinued Qualifications (SAQA 0429/00)

In order to allow learners to complete qualifications for which they have enrolled and which for various reasons they have not been able to complete, SAQA will have a system which allows qualifications and standards which would otherwise be discontinued to remain available to such learners and their providers for a period not exceeding n+2 years (where n = the number of years it normally takes to complete the qualification). This system will include maintaining such information clearly designated on the Qualifications and Standards database of the NLRD.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Expertise:                   Either technical expertise in standards writing, or subject- matter expertise, or a clear understanding of and commitment to realizing the objectives of the NQF; or a composite of these

  1. 1. Scope of Standards Generation

1.1.  Is there a clear statement of the particular qualifications and/or standards which the SGB applicant wishes to generate?

Type of evidence required:

A “Titles matrix” and/or list of qualifications, as well as a paragraph describing in some detail the area(s) in which qualifications and/or standards will be generated.

Comments:

Is there enough evidence to suggest that the applicant has clarity on its proposed activities?

1.2.  Is there a clear statement of the purpose of these qualifications and/or standards?

Type of evidence required:

A clear purpose statement for the qualifications and standards – WHY they are needed.

Comments:

Is there a convincing argument of the need for the proposed qualifications and standards?

Does this purpose statement provide an internal coherence – do the standards and qualifications relate clearly to one another?

1.3.  Will the qualifications and/or standards generated contribute towards realizing the objectives of the NQF? (Attachment 3 sets out the NQF objectives.)

Type of evidence required:

Statement indicating intentions to achieve one or more of SAQA’s five objectives.

Comments:

Does the applicant understand the objectives?

Will the proposed qualifications and standards contribute towards realizing these objectives?

1.4.  Is there any provision for determining the international comparability of the qualifications and/or standards?

Type of evidence required:

A suggested process for comparing qualifications and standards with international equivalents in terms of outcomes and assessment criteria and level.

Comments:

Is the applicant aware of the need for international comparability? Is there a suggested process for achieving this?

  1. 2. Status of the Applicant

2.1    Does the applicant represent key education and training interest groups –

a grouping of national relevance – in the sub-field?

Type of evidence required:

A list of membership and accompanying curricula vitae (CVs).

Comments:

Are key education and training interest groups represented on the membership list of the proposed SGB?

Does the membership list represent national education and training stakeholders?

2.2     Has the applicant shown in its proposed membership of the SGB due regard for the need for

relevant expertise in terms of the work of the SGB; and representativeness, equity, and redress?

Type of evidence required:

A list of membership and accompanying curricula vitae (CVs).

Comments:

Is relevant expertise in the sub-field the chief criterion according to which membership has been determined?

Does the proposed membership reflect an appropriate balance between representativeness and relevant expertise?

Is the applicant aware of the need for transformation?

2.3.  Is the applicant willing to be an active participant in the process of forming a more representative SGB (if this is required)? Is it prepared to broaden its membership base so as to be more representative, for example?

Type of evidence required:

Responses to SAQA staff suggestions in this regard. Responses to contacts of the

NSB with stakeholder groupings. Statements in the application to this effect.

Comments:

Is it necessary to contact the applicant for more evidence?

2.4.  i.     If a proposed member does not meet the requirements for direct participation in the SGB, is it important to include him/her as a member of the proposed SGB’s consultative network?

Note: The NSB co-ordinators at SAQA will screen a number of proposed members in this regard. (See the attached Process for SGB Recognition.)

  1. Is the proposed member willing to become a member of a consultative network?

Type of evidence required:

If the NSB should decide that this person does not meet the SGB requirements, what steps are necessary to ensure that he/she is not lost to the sub-field?

Comments:

Does the person meet the requirements? If NO…

How can the person be drawn into the process of establishing a consultative network?

  1. 3. Role of the Applicant

3.1    Is the role of the applicant consistent with SAQA’s vision?

Type of evidence required:

Statement linking role to SAQA’s objectives (see Attachment 3). Statements about role with respect to equity and redress.

Comments:

3.2    Is the applicant a significant player from the sector or sub-field in which it operates?

Type of evidence required:

A list of members. Explanation as to the choice of membership.

Comments:

Is the NSB aware of other significant players not listed? Is there a need to gather more information?

3.3    i.    Would the implications of the applicant’s inclusion be significant for the sub-field?

  1. Would the costs of the applicant’s exclusion be significant for the sub- field?

Type of evidence required:

Argument for membership (from the applicant). Informed judgement of the NSB

members based on their knowledge of the field.

Comments:

Is the applicant a “make or break” player in the sector or sub-field?

3.4.  i.    Does the applicant understand its precise role in the standards setting process in relation to the roles of SAQA, its staff, the NSB, and the consultative network?

  1. Does the applicant have the capacity to add significant value to promoting and co-ordinating the process of qualifications and standards generation?

Type of evidence required:

A clear understanding of role in relation to SAQA and the NSB . (It must not assume the responsibilities of other bodies.)

Evidence of membership expertise in subject matter and standards generation

(endorsements and/or CVs).

Comments:

Is there a need to gather more evidence?

  1. 4. Sub-Field Coverage

4.1.  i.    Is the applicant’s proposed scope of standards generation appropriate to its status? Does the applicant have the capacity and capability to generate the standards it proposes to develop at the NQF levels

stated within its proposed scope?

  1. Is the proposed scope of the applicant’s focus appropriate to its capacity to manage the standards generating process?

iii.  Does the applicant have the capability and capacity (expertise) or leadership track record in the sub-field to add significant value to the leadership and management of the standards generating process?

Type of evidence required:

A clear indication that the applicant has the capability and capacity (expertise) to generate the proposed standards in the sub-field.

A clear indication that the applicant has the capacity (organizational ability, project management skills, and staff support) to manage standards generation.

Evidence of the “track record” (reputation and demonstrable achievements) of the applicant as a body, or of its individual members (where the body is newly constituted).

Comments:

Do proposed members’ CVs indicate, individually and collectively, the capacity for the task at hand? Are references available and referees contactable?

Has the business or project plan been detailed?

4.2.  i.    Has the applicant actively engaged the expertise of other significant stakeholders in the preparation of its application?

  1. Has the applicant described the formal processes it would seek to establish to set up regular consultation with other (or all) significant stakeholders?

iii.  Has the applicant identified other significant organizations in the sub- field which it has not consulted in preparing its application? (Organizations here include those which exclude themselves from the process for whatever reason.)

  1. Has the applicant identified other significant agencies/users/ statutory bodies/providers/organizations which have licensing, certification or legislative responsibilities in the specialist area?
  1. v. Has the applicant identified any anomalies resulting from other processes and/or legislation in the field?

Type of evidence required:

Acknowledgement of input from stakeholders (meetings/minutes/contributions). A process for consultation.

Names of organizations or individuals NOT included, with reasons (if applicable). List of bodies that will be included under 4.2.iv above.

Brief indication of anomalies: challenges or issues the applicant anticipates.

Comments:

Is there enough evidence to suggest that the applicant has clarity on its proposed activities?

  1. 5. Leadership Capacity

5.1.  Has the applicant made proposals for how it would:

  1. set up and manage standards generating processes?
  1. evaluate proposals from the sub-field for the need to generate further qualifications and standards?

iii.  establish a process for the regular review of qualifications and standards?

  1. generate assessment, moderation and accreditation proposals for its specialist area standards?
  1. v. plan to submit qualifications and standards to the NSB timeously?
  1. fund standards generation?

Type of evidence required:

A project plan for standards generation – including submission dates. An evaluation plan for qualifications and standards proposals.

A review process for the standards and/or qualifications.

A process for obtaining input on, and producing, proposals for assessment, moderation and accreditation.

A business plan for funding standards generation.

Comments:

  1. 6. NSB Decision

Based on the information provided, we: Recommend

or

Do not recommend

the registration of the Standards Generating Body for:

(name)                                                                                                                 

to perform the following functions: [list in accordance with the template below]

0  develop learning pathways for potential qualifications and standards for…

0  generate qualifications and standards in the sub-field of…

0  recommend these qualifications and/or standards to the NSB

0  recommend criteria for the registration of assessors and moderators or moderating bodies

0  update and review qualifications and standards as required; and

0  perform such other functions as may from time to time be delegated by the NSB.

In the event that the application is not recommended, the reasons and/or recommendations are provided below.

ATTACHMENT 3

Objectives of the National Qualifications Framework

The objectives of the National Qualifications Framework are to:

create an integrated national framework for learning achievements facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training

and career paths

enhance the quality of education and training

accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities; and thereby

contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

ATTACHMENT 4

Process for SGB Recognition

STEP FOR ACTION OF TIMELINE
1. Receive letter of intent for recognition

as SGB

NSB Co-ordinator
2. Acknowledge receipt of letter, hold preliminary conversation with applicant, and send application form to applicant NSB Co-ordinator Within 3 days of receipt
3. Send letter of intent to NSB SGB sub- committee NSB Co-ordinator At same time as acknowledgement of receipt of letter

of intent is sent to applicant

4. Receive application form, acknowledge receipt, and scrutinise in terms of knowledge of NSB-agreed and

SAQA criteria for NSB plans for the field

NSB Co-ordinator Acknowledge receipt within two days of receipt
5. Send SGB application, together with

preliminary recommendation about need for meeting of NSB between sub- committee and applicant (where applicable – unless deemed unnecessary by the Executive Officer [EO] of SAQA or a person delegated by the EO), to NSB sub-committee

NSB Co-ordinator Within 3 days of

receipt

6. Consider application in order to determine the need for a meeting with the applicant NSB Sub-committee Next meeting of sub-committee
7. Where necessary, request such a

meeting

NSB Sub-committee
8. Arrange meeting with applicant, where mapping of field and direction are provided to applicant NSB Co-ordinator; NSB Sub-committee
9. Submit (revised) application SGB Applicant
10. Acknowledge receipt of application NSB Co-ordinator Within 2 days of receipt
11. Check application to see if it is in line

with NSB sub-committee mapping and all other criteria, and prepare gazettable brief and composition

NSB Co-ordinator Within 3 days of

receipt

12. Submit SGB brief and composition to Head of DSS and to NSB SGB sub- committee NSB Co-ordinator
13. Submit SGB brief and composition to

Director of Directorate of Standards

Setting & Development (DSSD)

Head of DSS By the next

Wednesday

14. Deliver SGB brief and composition to

Government printer

Secretary of Director’s Office of DSSD Friday afternoon
STEP FOR ACTION OF TIMELINE
15. Publish (subject to DSSD approval) SGB recognition in the Government

Gazette for public comment

30 days
16. Acknowledge receipt of public comment, and hand it over to NSB Co- ordinator Head of DSS Within two days of receipt
17. Compile report on public comment (with recommendation) and on closing date of gazetting period send comment

to NSB sub-committee for SGBs and to

SGB steering committee

NSB Co-ordinator End of public comment period
18. Incorporate public comment as per

NSB Co-ordinator report, compile report on how comment has been accommodated, and submit revised SGB brief and membership to NSB Co- ordinator

SGB Steering

Committee

19. Acknowledge receipt of application NSB Co-ordinator Within two days of receipt
20. Submit revised SGB brief and

membership to NSB SGB sub-committee for evaluation

NSB Co-ordinator Within two days of

receipt

21. Compile report on SGB and present

it with a recommendation to full NSB

SGB Sub-committee Next meeting of

sub-committee

22. Approve SGB NSB Next meeting
23. Publish registered brief and composition of SGB in next edition of Government Gazette and on SAQA web

site for notification

NSB Co-ordinator

SAQA: Higher Education Act: Higher Education Qualifications Framework

Higher Education Act: Higher Education Qualifications Framework

Download a copy of the act form the SAQA website:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2007/not0928.pdf

GOVERNMENT NOTICE

DEPARTMENT  OF EDUCATION

No. 928                                                                                                                                5 October 2007

The Higher Education Qualifications Framework

HIGHER EDUCATION ACT, 1997 (Act No. 101of  1997)

I, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of Education, hereby publish  The Higher Education Qualifications Framework as set out in the Schedule as policy in terms of section 3 of the Higher Education Act, 1997  (Act No. 101 of 1997).

Separate and parallel qualifications structures for universities and technikons have hindered   the   articulation   of   programmes   and   transfer   of   students   between programmes and higher education institutions.  Education White Paper 3: A Programme for  the Transformation of Higher Education (1997),  acknowledges the need  for   a  single  qualifications  framework   applicable  to  all  higher  education institutions.

The development of this policy has benefited from extensive discussion and consultation  within  and outside higher  education following the  publication by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) of A New Academic Policy for Programmes and Qualifications  in  Higher  Education:  Discussion Document  (2002).   I express  my appreciation to the CHE and all others who contributed to the development of this policy.

This new qualifications framework has been designed to meet demanding challenges facing the higher education system in the 21st century. It will guide higher education institutions  in  the  development  of  programmes  and  qualifications  that  provide graduates with intellectual capabilities and skills that can both enrich society and empower themselves and enhance economic and social development.

C:A!/ifl       ·

  1. N. M. Pandor, MP

Minister of Education

Date: 7 September  2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE NEW FRAMEWORK IN CONTEXT …………………………………………………………                    5

A single qualifications framework for a diverse system…………………………………  5

The framework and the NQF………………………………………………………………….   6

Standards generation in higher education…………………………………………………  7

Qualifications, volumes of learning and credits…………………………………………..                  8

Accumulation of credits towards qualifications……………………………………………  9

Work Integrated  Learning……………………………………………………………………..  9

THE FRAMEWORK ………………………………………………………………………………….  1o Characteristics…………………………………………………………………………………….  1o Number of levels and level descriptors…………………………………………………….   11

Qualification types………………………………………………………………………………  11

Undergraduate………………………………………………………………………………..                       11

Postgraduate ………………………………………………………………………………….                          11

Qualification descriptors……………………………………………………………………….  12

Naming of qualifications……………………………………………………………………….  12

Qualifications and academic transcripts……………………………………………………                13

Language of qualification certificates and academic transcripts………………….  13

Transcript supplement………………………………………………………………………  14

Admission to higher education ………………………………………………………………                       14

Progression within the framework ………………………………………………………….                      15

IMPLEMENTATION AND TRANSffiONAL ARRANGEIIIIENTS ……………………………..             16

Implementation  date …………………………………………………………………………..  16

Programmes and qualifications………………………………………………………………                   16

New programmes and qualifications…………………………………………………….                16

Existing programmes and qualifications………………………………………………..               16

Admission to higher education ………………………………………………………………                        17

New programmes…………………………………………………………………………….  17

Existing programmes………………………………………………………………………..  17

Full compliance ………………………………………………………………………………….                      17

Higher Education Management Information  System……………………………………            18

APPENDIX 1…………………………………………………………………………………………           19

HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATION  DESCRIPTORS ………………………………..  19

Higher Certificate ……………………………………………………………………………….               19

Advanced Certificate……………………………………………………………………………                         20

Diploma ……………………………………………………………………………………………  21

Advanced Diploma………………………………………………………………………………                          22

Bachelor’s Degree ………………………………………………………………………………  23

Bachelor Honours Degree…………………………………………………………………….  25

Postgraduate Diploma …………………………………………………………………………                            26

Master’s Degree …………………………………………………………………………………                   27

Doctoral Degree…………………………………………………………………………………  29

THE NEW FRAMEWORIK IN CONTEXT

A single qualifications framework for a diverse system

Education White Paper 3, A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education (1997),proposed a single qualifications framework for a single coordinated higher education sector. It has taken time, but this document makes good on that undertaking. It replaces the following policy documents:

A Qualification Structure for Universities in South Africa – NATED Report 116 (99/02)

General Policy for Technikon Instructional Programmes – 1\JATED Report 150 (97/01)

Formal Technikon Instructional Programmes in the RSA – NATED Report 151 (99/01)

Revised Qualifications Framework for Educators in Schooling, in Norms and Standards for Educators (Government Gazette No. 20844, February, 2000). In addition, the Criteria for the Rcecognition and Evaluation of Qualifications for Employment in Education will be amended to ensure consistency with this policy.

The policy also provides the basis for integrating all higher education qualifications into the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and its structures for standards generation and quality assurance. It improves the coherence of the higher education system and  facilitates the  articulation of  qualifications, thereby enhancing the flexibility of the system and enabling students to move more efficiently over time from one programme to  another as they pursue their  academic or professional careers.

Public confidence in academic standards of  higher education institutions requires public understanding of  the  achievements represented by  higher education qualifications. The qualifications framework is thus  designed to  be readily understood and to  ensure a consistent use of  qualification titles and their designators and qualifiers.

The new qualifications framework establishes common parameters and criteria for qualifications design and facilitates the comparability of  qualifications across the system. Within such common parameters programme diversity and innovation are encouraged.  Higher  education  institutions  will   have  ample  scope  to   design educational offerings to realise their different visions, missions and plans and to meet the varying needs of the clients and communities they serve.

The policy thus operates within the context of a single but diverse and differentiated higher education system. It applies to all  higher education programmes and qualifications offered in South Africa by public and private institutions.

The framework  and the NQF

The higher education qualifications framework is an integral part of the NQF. The terms used in this policy are therefore consistent with NQF practice.

A qualification is the formal recognition and certification of learning achievement awarded by an accredited institution. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) stipulates that  the  learning outcomes of  all South African qualifications should include critical cross-field or generic skills to promote lifelong learning as well as discipline, domain-specific or specialised knowledge, skills and reflexivity. The format for qualification specification, where appropriate, should include the title and purpose of  the qualification, its  NQF level, credits, rules of combination for  its learning components, exit-level outcomes and associated assessment criteria, entry requirements, forms of integrated assessment, and arrangements for the recognition of prior learning and for moderation of assessment. The recognition of prior learning should enable potential students, including those who had suffered disadvantage in the past to be admitted to particular higher education programmes depending on their assessed knowledge  and skills.

A programme is a purposeful and structured set of learning experiences that leads to a qualification. Programmes may be discipline based, professional, career-focused, trans-, inter- or multi-disciplinary in nature. A programme has recognised entry and exit points. All higher education programmes and qualifications must have a core component and may have a fundamental and or elective component depending on the purpose of the programme or the qualification. The credit allocation for core, fundamental and elective learning will depend on the purpose of the programme or qualification.  The internal organisation of programmes is otherwise not prescribed by this document.

The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for norms and standards for higher education, including the  qualifications structure  for  the  higher education system.

This policy determines the qualifications structure for higher education, which is the Ministry’s prerogative. The  Ministry recognises that  professional bodies have a distinct  role,  derived  from  legislation or  undertaken in  terms  of  international professional conventions and agreements, to  set    requirements for  professional registration,  membership  or  licensing, and  to   regulate   professional conduct. Professional bodies determine  whether  a  particular  qualification  offered  by  a particular  higher  education institution  meets the  requirements for  registration, membership or licensing. This policy does not deal with such matters, which fall outside the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.

Similarly, this policy recognises the responsibility of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for registering standards and qualifications in terms of the SAQA Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995) and the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education’s responsibility for quality assurance in higher education in terms of the Higher Education Act, 1997.

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is also assigned the responsibility for the generation and setting of standards for all higher education qualifications and for ensuring that such qualifications meet SAQA’s criteria for registration on the NQF in terms of section 1 (f) (ii) of the Higher Education Act.

Standards registered for  higher  education qualifications must  have legitimacy, credibility and a common, well-understood meaning, and they  must provide benchmarks to guide the  development, implementation and quality assurance of programmes leading to  qualifications. The  CHE will  put  in  place appropriate safeguards to ensure the integrity  of standards generation and quality assurance processes respectively.

Standards generation in higher education

The framework incorporates a nested approach to qualifications design. Within a nested  approach  to   standards  setting,  qualification  specification  requires  a movement from generic to specific outcomes. The most generic standards are found in the level descriptors. The most specific standards are found in the programmes that lead to qualifications. Specific standards always meet the requirements of the generic standards within  which they  are nested or  framed. Within this broader context, the focus of the HEQF is on qualification type descriptors – the second layer of a nested approach.

The nested approach also allows for the appropriate allocation of jurisdictions and responsibilities and can potentially minimise the volume of national standards-setting required for higher education.

The NQF level and its  level descriptor form the outer and most generic layer of qualification specification. The  level descriptors describe the  required generic competencies at each level of cognitive complexity in the HEQF.

One or more recognised qualification types such as a certificate, a diploma or a degree is pegged to each NQF level. A qualification descriptor specifies tile exit level of       the   qualification  type,    its    minimum  credit  rating   and   its    purpose  and characteristics. A qualification type must meet the generic competencies described in the level descriptor for the level concerned. The basic qualification types, namely certificates, diplomas and degrees, are used as points of reference for the design of specialised qualifications and the programmes that deliver them.

Jhe next layer of qualification specialisation nested within the qualification type is the designator.   For example, a Bachelor of Science degree is a designator of the

generic  Bachelor’s degree.  Such  designators apply  only  to  degrees  and  not  to certificates or diplomas. A degree designator describes a generic field of study and is stated in the qualification nomenclature and described through statements of desired educational  training  and  outcomes  and  their  associated assessment criteria.  A designator meets the generic specifications laid down for the  qualification type of which it  is a variant. For example, a Bachelor of Science (BSc) complies with the generic requirements for a Bachelor’s degree.

The last and most specific layer of qualification specification in the nest, on which most programmes are based, is the  qualification specialisation. This is reflected in the  qualification’s qualifier. For example, the learning outcomes and specifications for a BSc (Hans) in Geology meet the learning demands and specifications laid down for a BSc (Hans) and include specialised learning outcomes related to the field of Geology.

Qualifications, volumes of learning and credits

The framework is a qualifications framework, represented by level descriptors, the main              qualification   types     and     their     descriptors,    qualification    standards    and designators for  designated variants  and standards and  qualifiers  for  qualification specialisations.

Level descriptors and qualification descriptors are expressed in terms of learning outcomes. The design of programmes makes assumptions about the volume of learning that is likely to be necessary to achieve the intended outcomes. Currently within  the higher education system, this measure of volume may be expressed in terms of study time, for example the number of academic years of study required, or the number of notional hours of study, expressed as credits.

In this regard, this framework recognises credits as the   measure of the volume of learning required for a qualification and not academic years of study; quantified as the number of notional study hours required for achieving the learning outcomes specified for the qualification. The credit rating of a qualification is independent of the mode of delivery of learning. The attainment of the expected learning outcomes is demonstrated through appropriate assessment.

The volume of learning required for a qualification can be specified in terms of the total minimum number of credits required, and in terms of the minimum number of credits required at its specified exit level on the qualifications framework. Where appropriate  the  maximum  number  of  credits  from  the  preceding  level  may  be specified.

Jhcredit-rating  system rates 10 notional study hours as equivalent to one credit. Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree and Bachelor (Honours) Degree qualification types assume a 30-week full-time  academic year. Master’s Degree and Doctoral qualification types assume a 45-week full-time academic year. An average full-time equivalent  student  is  expected  to  study  for  a  40-hour  week,  thus  requiring  a minimum credit-load of 120 credits per academic year for Certificates, Diplomas and

Bachelor’s Degrees and  180  credits per academic year  for  Master’s Degrees and

Doctorates.

Credit ratings  specified on the  framework  are  minima.  Programmes may require credit loads above the minimum.

Study leading directly to a qualification will normally  build upon assessed learning from earlier stages of a programme but it may also build on assessed prior learning achieved by private study, in the workplace or elsewhere.

Accumulation of credits towc1rds qualifications

Credit accumulation and transfer (CAT) is the process whereby a student’s achievements are recognised and contribute to further  learning even if the student does not achieve a qualification, and whereby credits obtained at one institution may be recognised by another  as meetin9 part of the requirements for a qualification; where credits for an incomplete qualification may  be recognised as meeting part of the requirements for a different qualification, and where, subject to limits, credits for

a completed qualification may be recognised as meeting part of the requirements of another qualification.

Any and all credits for  an incomplete qualification may be recognised as meeting part  of  the  requirements  for  a  different  qualification  in  the  same or  different institution.

7rhe Ministry of Education intends to undertake systematic work on the development of a national higher education CAT scheme in collaboration with the higher education community, the CHE and SAQA. In the interim, a maximum  of  50% credits of a completed qualification  may be transferred  to  another  qualification, provided also that no more than 50% of the credits required for the other  qualification are credits that have been used for a completed qualification.

Work Integrated Learning

Some qualifications will  be designed to incorporate  periods of  required work that integrate  with  classroom  study.  Where  Work  Integrated   Learning  (WIL)   is  a structured part of a qualification the volume of learning allocated to WIL should be appropriate to the purpose of the qu21lification and to the cognitive demands of the learning outcome and assessment criteria contained in the appropriate level descriptors.

It is the responsibility of institutions, which offer programmes requiring WIL credits to place students into  WIL programmes. Such programmes  must be appropriately structured, properly supervised and assessed.

THE FRAMEWORK

Characteristics

The higher education qualifications framework is designed to:

  • Be sufficiently  flexible  to  accommodate  different   types  of  higher  education institutions and enable institutions to pursue their own curriculum goals with creativity and innovation;
  • Facilitate the education of graduates who will contribute to the social, cultural and economic development  of  South Africa and participate  successfully in the global economy and knowledge society;
  • Enhance the development of a vibrant, high quality research system;
  • Be compatible with international  qualifications  frameworks  in  order to  ensure international recognition and comparability of standards;
  • Be suitably flexible to accommodate the development of new qualification types and specialisations as the need arises;
  • Be simple, clear, easy to understand and user-friendly for the higher education system and its clients;
  • Facilitate qualification articulation across the higher education system and assist students to identify potential progression routes, particularly in the context of lifelong learning; and
  • Articulate with the rest of the NQF.

Scope and application

The HEQF applies to  all higher  education institutions,  both  public and private. It complements other policies of the Minister of Education in higher education.

The HEQF regulates and specifies all higher education qualification types, including qualifications based on  unit  standards, in the  higher  education  system and their designators and qualifiers, and the manner in which the qualifications are designed and relate to one another. It does not deal with nor does it prejudice the design and registration of unit standards to meet specific learning outcomes.

Number of levels and level descriptors

The National Qualifications Framework has ten levels. Higher education qualifications occupy six levels of the NQF, levels 5 to 10. Levels 5-7 are undergraduate and levels

8-10 are postgraduate.

Each NQF level has a level descriptor. Level descriptors provide guidelines for differentiating the varying levels of complexity of qualifications on the framework.

The level descriptors are the outermost layer of qualification specification. At each level they describe the generic nature of learning achievements and their complexity. Level descriptors are thus broad qualitative statements against which more specific learning outcomes can be developed, compared and located. The positioning of two or more qualifications on the same NQF level only indicates that the qualifications are broadly comparable in terms  of the general level of learning achievements. It does not indicate that they have the same purpose, content or outcomes (except at the   generic   level  of   critical   cross-field   outcomes),   nor   does   it   necessarily demonstrate equivalence of qualifications.

Qualification types

The framework has nine qualification types mapped onto the six levels of the NQF occupied by higher education qualifications.   Some levels have more than one qualification type. The framework comprises the following qualification types:

Undergraduate

  • Higher Certificate
  • Advanced Certificate
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • Bachelor’s Degree

Postgraduate

  • Postgraduate Diploma
  • Bachelor Honours Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctoral Degree

The nine qualification types and their designated variants are expected to accommodate present requirements but the list is not immutable. The Minister, on the  advice  of  the  CHE, may  approve  a  new  qualification  type  and  its  unique descriptor when a proven need arises as a result of  developments in knowledge production or acknowledged international practice. The use of qualification types is regulated by this policy. A qualification  type may only  be used if the qualification fulfils the specifications for the type.

Qualification descriptors

Each qualification type has a unique descriptor stating its purpose and how it relates to other qualification types.

Qualification descriptors designate the specifications such as the 1\IQF exit level and credit-rating, purpose and characteristics of qualification types recognised by the framework. Each descriptor is a point of reference, which enables comparisons with other qualifications and provides a basis for designing, approving and reviewing programmes. All  qualifications  using  the  same  qualification  type  (and  where appropriate, designated variant) in their titles must be consistent with the descriptor for each qualification type as defined in this policy.

Descriptors for the  nine qUalification  types recognised by the  framework are at

Appendix 1.

Naming of qualifications

Th.e qualification type is the first name given to a qualification.

The designator is the second name given to a qualification, to indicate its broad area of study, discipline or profession. All degrees (Bachelor, Master and Doctor) have designated variants of the degree type, but designators are not used for certificates and diplomas. The linking word between the qualification type and the designator is of(e.g. Bachelor ofSocial Science), and when abbreviated the ‘of’ is omitted (e.g. BSocS).                                                                                               .

The Council on Higher Education (CHE), is hereby mandated in terms of section

,S(l)(f)   of the Higher Education Act to determine and publish the criteria to  be

ppplied in  adopting  degree  designators and  qualifiers,  including  exceptions as appropriate. 1\lo  designator or qualifier may be used in a   qualification unless it is consistent with  the  criteria  determined by  the  CHE in  terms  of  this  policy. In registering standards for higher education qualifications,  SAQA will ensure that the naming of  higher education qualifications, including degree designators, are consistent with this  policy, to ensure that  the nomenclature of higher education qualifications is applied consistently.

The third name given to a qualification type is the qualifier. Qualifiers may be used in all qualification types in order to indicate a field of specialisation. The linking word between the qualification type or its designator and the qualifier is always in (e.g. Bachelor of  Arts  in  Linguistics., Bachelor of  Engineering in  Electronics).  When abbreviated, the  in  is  dropped and the  qualifier is  placed in brackets (e.g. BA (Linguistics), BEng (Electronics)). Bachelors degrees may include a second qualifier. The second qualifier qualifies the first. An example would be a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electronics. When abbreviated, the in is dropped and the qualifiers are placed in brackets, e.g. BSc  (Eng)  (Electronics). The CHE will determine all

primary qualifiers for  bachelor’s de<grees,  honours and masters degrees, and institutions may add secondary qualifiers.

In the case of qualifications  where there is no designator, the qualifier follows immediately after  the  qualification type (e.g.  Postgraduate Diploma in  Drama/ abbreviated to PG Dip (Drama)).

A further area of specialisation for a qualification may be indicated as above; in being the linking word to the second qualifier (e.g. Postgraduate Diploma in Drama in Performance, abbreviated to PG Dip (Drama) (Performance}).

In  order to use a qualifier, at least 50% of the minimum total credits for the qualification and at least 50% of the minimum credits at the qualification’s exit level must be in the field of specialisation denoted by the qualifier. The same applies to the  use of a second qualifier. Qualifilers and second qualifiers are attached to  a qualification type and designators are subject to the criteria set by the CHE.

Qualifications and academic transcripts

Award of qualifications

Qualifications are awarded to  mark  the  achievement of  defined outcomes. No qualification may be awarded as compensation for a student’s failure at a higher level,or by default.

Issue of transcripts

An academic transcript is not a qualification but a document issued by an institution to  provide a descriptive record of  tile  learning a  student has achieved at that institution, whether or not a qualification has been awarded.

If a student is unable to complete a qualification and must exit the institution, an academic transcript of the student’s record will assist the admitting authorities if the student wishes to complete the qualification later or register for a different qualification. A transcript issued by a higher education institution must be a full academic record of the student concerned at that institution.

Language of qualification certificates and academic transcripts

The language of each qualification certificate and transcript issued to a student within  the South African higher education system must  be consistent with  the Ministry of Education’s Language Policy for  Higher Education (Pretoria, November

2002) and the approved language policy of the issuing institution. A central aspect of

the Ministry’s policy is the promotion of multilingualism.

To   enable  employers,  academic  institutions,  parents  and   others  (including international academic institutions or employers) to understand the achievements

and attributes represented by a qualification title, a certificate or transcript must be issued in English in addition to any other official language.

The  use of  Latin in  qualification  certificates  has been  practised by  some South African institutions  as a historical legacy. Its  continued use for this purpose is not encouraged but is left to the discretion of individual institutions. A certificate in Latin must also be in English in addition to any other official language.

Transcript supplement

In order to improve the portability and transparency of qualifications, each transcript issued by a higher education institution  to a current  or former student must have attached to it an official supplement. The supplement must provide a description of the nature, level, content and where appropriate the context of the studies pursued by a student and assessed by the institution. The Minister of Education will propose the  format  and  use of  the  supplement  after  consultation  with  higher  education institutions and on advice from the Council on Higher Education.

Admission to higher education

The framework is intended to facilitate articulation between further and higher education and within  higher  education. However, the  possession of a qualification does not guarantee a student’s progression and admission to a programme of study.

In terms of the Higher Education Act, 1997 the decision to admit a student to higher education study is the right and responsibility of the higher education institution concerned.  A  higher  education   institution’s   admissions  policy  and  practice  is expected to advance the objectives of the Act and the NQF and must be consistent with this policy.

The minimum  requirement  for  admission to  a higher  education institution  from  1

January 2009 is the National Senior Certificate, whose specifications were approved by  the  Minister  of  Education  in  the  document  National  Senior  Certificate  A qualification at  level 4 on the  National Qualifications Framework published in the Government  Gazette, Vol.  481,  l\lo.  27819,  July  2005.  Given the  diversity  of programmes  and qualifications  in  higher  education, the  Minister has declared as policy the  Minimum  Admission Requirements for  Higher  Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree Programmes requiring a National Senior Certificate, published in the Government Gazette, Vol. 482, No. 27961, August 2005. These minima must be met by all applicants to entry  level higher education qualifications. Applicants with different  qualifications may only be admitted in they are judged equivalent by the designated equivalence-setting bodies.

Progression within the framework

The framework is designed to facilitate vertical, horizontal and diagonal progression. Vertical progression is the norm and the minimum requirements for such progression between qualification types  are  stipulated in  the  qualification type  descriptors. Students may progress horizontally between qualifications if they meet the minimum requirements for admission to the target qualification. Students may progress diagonally between qualifications by presenting a completed qualification or credits towards a qualification in  a cognate study area, and must  meet the  minimum requirements for admission to the target qualification, which they will often do by virtue of the credits obtained towards a cognate qualification

The general principle must be that the admitting institution  is satisfied that the applicant has competence in the  appropriate field of  intended study at the appropriate entry level of the target qualification.

The point of entry in the target programme must be such that at least 120 or 180 credits,  for   undergraduate  and   postgraduate  programmes  respectively,  are undertaken at the exit level. For example, a student may present a Higher Certificate for admission to the second year of a cognate Diploma programme, or a student may be admitted to the second year of a cognate Bachelor’s degree programme after completing the first year of study of a Diploma programme, or a student who has completed academic credits towards one qualification may be exempted from certain requirements in a cognate qualification, or a Master’s student’s candidature may be upgraded to a Doctoral programme. In  all cases, the admittin9 institution must be satisfied that the applicant has the necessary competence.

With due regard to the  policies, requirements and guidelines of the HEQC, institutions may recognise other forms of prior learning as equivalent to the prescribed minimum admission requirements, and may recognise other forms of prior learning for entry to given programmes. In this regard, vertical progression is possible where a person with a given qualification adds to that which is required to gain entry to a higher qualification type. In all cases, the admitting institution must be satisfied that the applicant has the necessary competence.

In  the  interest  of  transparency, each higher education institution  must clearly stipulate the requirements that  must be satisfied for  admission and make these requirements publicly accessible.

With regard to a student who fails to complete the requirements for a qualification, the  general  principle  is  that  this  student may  not  be  awarded an  early-exit qualification. For example, a  student who fails to  meet  the requirements for  a Master’s degree may not be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in lieu of the Master’s pegree.

IMPLEMENTATION AND TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

Implementation date

The  implementation date  for  this  policy  is  1 January 2009.  However, higher education institutions will need some time to phase out their existing qualifications in terms of this policy, so there will be a transition period to full compliance. The Minister of Education shall determine the date by notice in the Government Gazette.

Programmes and qualifications

New programmes and qualifications

A new programme or qualification is one which has not existed before or has been significantly changed, such as when its purpose, outcomes, field of study, mode or site of delivery has been changed to a considerable extent.

New higher education qualifications submitted for registration on the NQF must conform to  the requirements of  this  policy from the date of  implementation, 1

January 2009.

Institutions must ensure that new programmes scheduled to begin in 2009 meet the requirements of this policy.

Existing programmes and qualifications

Existing qualifications are those that have been registered or interim registered on the. NQF prior to the promulgation of this policy. Existing programmes are those that lead to such qualifications and have been accredited by the HEQC  or the former Universities and Technikons Advisory Council (AUT), or its predecessors.

Existing qualifications and programmes that  are currently offered by higher education institutions must conform over time with the requirements of this policy or must be de-registered and withdrawn. The Minister of  Education will determine appropriate transitional arrangements after consultation with the Council on Higher Education, the  South African Qualifications Authority  and  higher education institutions.

Admission to higher education

New programmes

From  1 January  2009  the  mtmmum  admission  requirement   for  entry  to  new programmes will be as set out in Gazette notice number 27961 of August 2005.

Existing programmes

From 1 January 2009 and until the date determined by the Minister in terms of this section the following will apply:

  • The minimum admission requirements for Higher Certificate will be used for admission to the National Certificate as defined in NATED Report 150
  • The minimum admission requirements for Diploma will be used for admission to the  National Diploma and  the  University Diploma as defined in  NATED Report 150 and 116 respectively.
  • The minimum admission requirements for Bachelor’s Degree will be used for admission to the Bachelor’s Degree as defined in NATED Report 116.

Full compliance

All  higher   education  programmes  and  qualifications  and  all  higher  education admission policies must comply with tbis policy by a date determined by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette.

Higher Education Management Information System

Details of  qualifications approved and accredited in  terms  of  this  policy will be recorded on the national higher education database, in accordance with the rules of the Department of Education’s Higher Education Information  Management System (HEMIS).

The fields in the HEMIS qualifications file will be amended to ensure consistency with this policy.

In  HEMIS, the properties of a qualification determine the total number of units of state   subsidy approved by the  Minister of Education for  that  qualification. The record of subsidy units per qualification is an essential part of the determination of full-time equivalent student totals. In turn these enable the Department of Education to calculate the annual subsidy  grant for each public higher education institution. Subsidy units are at present described for each qualification in terms of “approved total  years”, “approved  formal  years”,  and “approved  experiential years”. The Department will ensure consistency between this policy and the Higher Education Management Information System.

Recording minimum study hours as sets of credits will not conflict with other properties of qualifications in the HEMIS national database.

APPENDIX 1

HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATION  DESCRIPTORS

Higher Certificate

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level 5

Minimum total credits: 120

Minimum credits at Level 5: 120

Designators

Not applicable

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum two

Example: Higher Certificate in Tourism in Eco-Tourism

Abbreviations

  1. Cert. (Tourism), H. Cert. (Tourism) (Eco-tourism)

Purpose and characteristics

This is an   entry-level higher education qualification. The qualification  is primarily

vocational, or industry  oriented. The qualification also serves to  provide  students with the basic introductory knowledge, cognitive and conceptual tools and practical techniques for further  higher education studies in their chosen field of study. The knowledge emphasises general principles and application. This qualification signifies that the student has attained a basic level of higher education knowledge and competence in a particular field or occupation and is capable of applying such knowledge and competence in an occupation or role in the workplace. The Higher Certificate typically includes a simulated work experience or work integrated learning (WIL) component.

Minimum admission requirements

The minimum  entry requirement is the National Senior Certificate with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement as defined in the Minister’s policy, (1i(7imum Admission Requirements for  Higher  Certificater Diploma  and  Bachelor’s Degree Programmes Requiring a National Senior Certificate, Government Gazette, Vol. 482, No. 27961, 18 August 2005.

Progression

Completion  of  the  Higher  Certificate  meets  the  m1mmum entry  requirement  for admission to an appropriate Advanced Certificate. Accumulated credits may also be presented for admission into a cognate Diploma. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Higher Certificate programme.

Advanced Certificate

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level: 6

Minimum total credits: 120 l”linimum credits at Level 6: 120

Designators

Not applicable

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum two

Example: Advanced Certificate in Real Estate in Property Marketing

Abbreviations

Adv. Cert. (Real Estate), Adv. Cert. (Real Estate)      (Property Marketing)

Purpose and characteristics

This  qualification  is  primarily  vocational,  or  industry  oriented.  The  knowledge emphasises   general   principles    and    application     or     technology    transfer.     The qualification provides students with a sound knowledge base in a particular field or discipline and the ability to apply their knowledge and skills to particular career or professional contexts,  while  equipping  them  to  undertake  more  specialised and intensive learning. Programmes leading to this qualification tend to  have a strong vocational, professional or career focus and holders of this qualification are normally prepared  to  enter  a  specific  niche  in  the  labour  market.  Advanced Certificate programmes  typically  include  a  simulated  work  experience  or  work  integrated learning (WIL) component.

Minimum admission requirements

The minimum entry requirement is a Higher Certificate in the appropriate field.

Progression

Completion of the Advanced Certificate meets the minimum entry requirement into a cognate Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree. Accumulated credits may also be presented for admission into cognate Diploma or Bachelor’s degree programmes. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from an Advanced Certificate programme.

Diploma

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level: 6

Minimum total credits: 360

Minimum credits at Level 7: 60

Maximum total credits at Level 5: 120

Designators

Not applicable

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum two

Example: Diploma in Management in Finance

Abbreviations

Dip. (Management), Dip. (Management)   (Finance)

Purpose and characteristics

This  qualification  is  primarily  professional,  vocational  or  industry  specific.  The knowledge  emphasises  general  principles  and  application.  The  purpose  of  the Diploma is to develop graduates who can demonstrate focused knowled Je and skills in a particular  field. Typically they  will  have  gained experience in  applying  such knowledge  and  skills  in  a  workplace                         context.   A  depth   and  specialisation  of knowledge, together  with practical skills and experience in the  workplace, enable successful students to enter a number of career paths and to apply their learning to particular employment  contexts from  the  outset.  Vocational diploma programmes typically  include  a  simulated work  experience  or  work  integrated  learning  (WIL) component.

Minimum admission requirements

The minimum entry requirement is the National Senior Certificate with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement, as defined in the Minister’s policy, Minimum Admission Requirements for  Higher Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree Programmes Requiring a National Senior Certificate, Government Gazette, Vol. 482, No. 27961,  18 August 2005.  Alternatively a Higher Certificate or Advanced ertificate  in a cognate field will satisfy the minimum requirement.

Progression

Completion of a Diploma meets the minimum entry requirement for admi1ssion to an Advanced Diploma  or  to  a  Bachelor’s degree.  Accumulated credits  may  also be presented   for   admission   into   a   cognate   Bachelor’s  Degree   programme.   A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Diploma programme.

Advanced Diploma

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level: 7

Minimum total credits: 120

Minimum credits at Level 7: 120

Designators

Not applicable

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum two

Examples: Advanced Diploma in Taxation; Advanced Diploma in Communication, in

Digital Media

Abbreviations

Adv. Dip (Taxation), Adv. Dip (Communication) (Digital Media)

Purpose and characteristics

This qualification  has a number  of  different  purposes, depending on a student’s circumstances  and  the  nature  of  the  programme.  It may  provide  intellectual enrichment, enhance  flexibility  in  the  light  of  changing circumstances, enable  a change in career path, or offer an intensive, focused and applied specialisation which meets  the  requirements  of  a  specific niche  in  the  labour  market.  Programmes offering  this qualification will provide an Advanced Diploma graduate with  a deep and systematic understanding of current thinking, practice, theory and methodology in  an  area  of  specialisation. It is  therefore  particularly  suitable  for  continuing professional development.

The qualification may also provide entry-level vocational or professional preparation or specialisation for Bachelor’s Degree graduates. For example a BSocSci graduate might register for an Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management in order to enter the area of human resources, BSc graduate might  register for an Advanced Diploma in Education, in Secondary Education in order to become a science teacher, or a BSc (Pharm) graduate might register for an Advanced Diploma in Marketing in order to become a marketing consultant in the pharmaceutical industry.

Minimum admission requirements

An appropriate Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree

Progression

Completion of an Advanced Diploma may be presented for entry into a Postgraduate Diploma or  a Bachelor’s Degree. Accumulated credits  may also be presented for entry into a cognate Bachelor’s degree. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from an Advanced Diploma.

Bachelor’s Degree

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level: 7

Minimum total credits: 360

Minimum credits at Level 7: 120

Maximum total credits at Level 5: 96

or

NQF Exit Level: 8

Minimum total credits: 480

IVIinimum credits at level 7:120

Minimum credits at Level 8: 96

Maximum total credits at Level 5: 96

Designators

Bachelor’s Degree designators are specific and limited  to broad and generic areas of study, disciplines  or  professions.  Examples  include:  Bachelor  of  Arts, Bachelor  of Social Science, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Agriculture, Bachelor of Law, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Business Science.

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum  two

Abbreviations

BA, BSc, BSocSci, BCom, LLB, BAgric, IVIBChB, BEd, BBusScir BSc (Life Sciences)    1 BA (Applied  Linguistics),   BAgric  (Animal  Science),  BCom  (Human   Resource Management), BBusSci (Actuarial Sciences)

Purpose and characteristics

This qualification  has as the primary  purpose of providing  a well-rounded, broad education that  equips graduates  with the  knowledge  base, theory  and methodology of disciplines, and enables them to demonstrate initiative  and responsibility in an academic or professional  context.  Principles and theory  are emphasised  as a basis for entry into the labour market, professional training,  postgraduate studies, or professional practice in a wide range of careers.

Bachelor1S  degrees  may be structured  with  an exit  at levels 7 or 8 om the National

Qualifications Framework.

Bachelor1S    Degrees  exiting   at   level  8  are   often   referred   to   as  “professional” Bachelor’s  Degreesr  and  have  both  a  higher   volume  of  learning  and  a  greater cognitive  demand  than those exiting  at level 7. Some require  a practicum  or work­ based component.  A professional Bachelor’s Degree demands high intellectual independence   and   development   of   research   capacity   in  the   methodology  and

techniques of that discipline. A professional Bachelor’s Degree generally leads to further professional development or study for a Master’s Degree.

Some professional Bachelor’s Degree programme are designed in consultation with a professional body and  recognised by a professional body as a requirement  for a licence  to   practice  that   profession.  Such  a  qualification  requires  a  thorough grounding in the knowledge, theory, principles and skills of the profession or career concerned and the ability to apply these to professional or career contexts.

Minimum admission requirements

The minimum entry requirement is the National Senior Certificate with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement,  as defined in the Minister’s policy, Minimum Admission Requirements for Higher Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree Programmes Requiring a National Senior Certificate, Government Gazette, Vol. 482, No. 27961, 18 August 2005.

Progression

A Bachelor’s Degree is the minimum entry requirement for admission to a Bachelor Honours Degree or Postgraduate Diploma.   A 480 credit Bachelor’s Degree with a minimum of 96 credits at level 8 may also meet  the minimum requirement for admission to a cognate Master’s Degree.  Entry into these qualifications is usually in the area of specialisation or in  the  discipline taken  as a major  in the Bachelor’s Degree. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor Honours Degree

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level: 8

1\llinimum total credits: 120

Minimum credits at Level 8: 120

Designators

Bachelor Honours Degree designators are specific and limited to broad and generic

areas  of  study,  disciplines  or  professions. Examples  include:  Bachelor  of  Arts Honours, Bachelor of Social Science Honours, Bachelor of Science Honours, Bachelor of Commerce Honours.

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum one

Examples: Bachelor of Science Honours in Microbiology or Bachelor of Arts Honours in Applied Linguistics

Abbreviations

BAHons,  BScHons,  BSocSciHons, BComHons,  BScHons  (Microbiology),   BAHons

(Applied Linguistics)

Purpose and characteristics

The    Bachelor  Honours   Degree  is  a   postgraduate   specialisation  qualification, characterised by the fact that it prepares students for research based postgraduate study. This qualification typically follows a Bachelor’s Degree, and serves to consolidate and  deepen  the  student’s expertise in  a  particular  discipline, and  to develop research capacity in the methodology and techniques of that discipline. This qualification demands a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual independence. In some cases a Bachelor Honours Degree carries recognition by an appropriate professional or statutory body.

Bachelor Honours Degree programmes must include conducting and reporting research under supervision, worth at least 30 credits, in a manner that is appropriate to the discipline or field of study.

r-t.inimum admission requirements

  • rhe minimum admission requirement is an appropriate Bachelor’s Degree.

Progression

Completion of a Bachelor Honours Degree meets the minimum entry requirement for admission to a cognate Master’s Degree. Entry into a Master’s Degree programme is usually in the area of specialisation of the Bachelor Honours Degree. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Bachelor Honours degree.

Postgraduate Diploma

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level 8

Minimum total credits: 120

Minimum credits at Level 8: 120

Designators

Not applicable

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum two

Examples: Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational and Management Systems; Postgraduate Diploma in Gender Studies or Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture in Rural Resource Managment

Abbreviations

PG Dip (Organisational & Management Systems), PG Dip (Gender Studies), PG Dip

(Agriculture) (Rural Resource Management)

Purpose and characteristics

A Postgraduate Diploma  is generally multi-  or interdisciplinary  in nature but  may serve to strengthen and deepen the student’s knowledge in a particular discipline or profession. The primary  purpose of the  qualification  is to  enable working professionals to  undertake  advanced reflection  and  development  by  means of  a systematic survey of current  thinking, practice and research methods in an area of specialisation. This qualification demands a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual independence. A sustained research project is not required but the qualification may include conducting and reporting research under supervision.

Minimum  admission requirements

The minimum admission requirement is an appropriate Bachelor’s Degree.

Progression

Completion of a Postgraduate Diploma meets the  minimum  entry requirement  for admission to a cognate Master’s Degree, usually in the area of specialisation of the postgraduate Diploma. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Postgraduate Diploma.

Master’s Degree

Type specifications

NQF Exit Level 9

Minimum total credits: 180

Minimum credits at Level 9: 120

Designators

The designators for the Master’s Degree describe the disciplinary or career focused

base of the qualification. Examples include: Master of Artsr Master of Science, Master of Medicine, Master of Social Science, Master of Commerce, Master of Laws, Master of Business Administration, Master of Education.

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum one

Examples: Master of Arts in Linguistics or Master of Science in Astrophysics

Abbreviations

MA, MA (Linguistics), MSc, MPhil, MSc (Astrophysics)

Purpose and characteristics

The primary purposes of a Master’s Degree are to educate and train researchers who can contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level, or prepare graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment. A Master’s Degree must have a significant research component.

A Master’s Degree may be earned in either of two ways: (1) by completing a single dvanced research project, culminating in the production and acceptance of a thesis or dissertation, or (2) by successfully completing a course work programme requiring a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual independence and a research project, culminating  in  the  acceptance of  a  dissertation.  In  the  latter  case, a minimum of 60 credits at level 9 must be devoted to conducting and reporting research.

Master’s graduates must be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements using data and information  at their disposal and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, act autonomously in planning  and implementing  tasks at a professional or equivalent level, and continue to advance their knowledge/ understanding and skills.

Minimum  admission requirements

The minimum admission requirement is a relevant Bachelor Honours Degree. A “professional” Bachelor’s Degree with a minimum  of 96 credits at level 8 or a Postgraduate Diploma may also be recognised as meeting the minimum entry requirement to a cognate Master’s Degree programme.

Progression

Completion  of  a  Master’s  Degree  meets  the   mtmmum  entry  requirement  for admission to a cognate Doctoral Degree, usually in the area of specialisation in the Master’s Degree. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Master’s Degree.

Doctoral Degree

Type specifications

1\JQF Exit Level 10

Minimum total credits: 360

Minimum credits at Level 10: 360

Designators

The designator of Philosophy is typically used for doctoral degrees. However, other

designators may be used to denote the areas of study or the name of the discipline.

Qualifiers

Specific, maximum one if required

Abbreviations

PhD, DPhil,DEd

Purpose and characteristics

A Doctoral Degree requires a candidate to undertake research at the most advanced academic levels culminating  in  the  submission, assessment and acceptance of  a thesis.  Course work  may  be  required  as  preparation  or  value  addition  to  the research,  but  does not  contribute   to  the  credit  value  of  the  qualification. The defining characteristic of this qualification is that the candidate is required to demonstrate high-level research capability and make a significant and original academic contribution at the frontiers of a discipline or field. The work must be of a quality  to  satisfy peer review  and  merit  publication. The  degree may be earned through  pure discipline-based or multidisciplinary research or applied research. This degree requires a minimum of two years’ full-time  study, usually after completing a

1″1aster’s Degree. A graduate must  be able to supervise and evaluate the research of others in the area of specialisation concerned.

Minimum admission requirements

The minimum admission requirement is usually an appropriate Master’s Degree.

Progression

A Doctoral Degree is the highest qualification awarded within this framework. A qualification may not be awarded for early exit from a Doctoral Degree.