Skills-Universe

I attended the meeting arranged by DHET held on Tuesday 30 October 2012 to brief Private FET Colleges on the implications of the Interim Guidelines on the Registration and Accreditation of Private Providers Offering Qualifications or Part-qualifications in the Trades and Occupational Sector. I believe all parties involved already read the guidelines, so I will not repeat them here. The DHET should be commended for organising the meeting and for the patience that Dr Buthelezi and other DHET speakers showed towards the attendees. I will get back to this in my closing remarks.

The following are some salient aspects of the guidelines that were discussed:

  1. All qualifications that were previously registered as SETA qualifications will be transferred to the QCTO. One would like the QCTO to confirm that they will accept unit standard aligned qualifications until such time as new curriculums have been written for all qualifications. This will probably take a number of years.
  2. If you voluntarily opt out of your provisional registration with DHET or if you do not indicate in writing that you wish to keep your provisional registration until it expires your institution’s name will be removed from the DHET database. This might have serious implications because clients and learners do not always understand the system or the NQF, and their perception is that learning institutions registered by DHET are better than ones that are not. Furthermore, DHET is creating unnecessary work for themselves because they will need to process annual reports submitted by private learning institution that opt to keep their provisional registration. Why not just cancel all provisional registrations and communicate this as widely as possible? Private learning institutions can also communicate what this means to their clients, as Mentornet already did.
  3. Not being required to register with DHET if you offer only OQF qualifications and part-qualifications is a temporary arrangement. The Skills Development Act will be amended in the near future and will then stipulate that such learning institutions, accredited by the QCTO, must also register with DHET.

In closing, I wish to return to my remark in the first paragraph that the DHET presenters displayed remarkable patience. You know, it is true that state departments do not always provide a professional service, and we all experience quite some frustration because of this. However, we will achieve nothing by being rude and insulting towards people, especially when they do their best to keep us informed. It is very easy to read a person’s body language, especially if it is accompanied by a hostile tone of voice. If you push people they will always push back and you will not achieve anything by shouting at them, threatening them, blaming them and adopting a superior attitude. Ironically some private providers know so little about the NQF and ETD related legislation that they are making utter fools of themselves. I was truly impressed with the mature and patient manner in which Dr Buthelezi dealt with the man who clearly does not even know what the requirements for accreditation and registration are but still adopted this attitude of being very clever and informed. Treating people with respect can go a long way towards fostering a climate of trust and co-operation. Even if the government officials are no always as proficient as they should be, we can achieve so much more by having more understanding for them and explaining rather than attacking, asking rather than demanding and guiding rather than insulting.

Dr Hannes (Jaap) Nel, MD Mentornet   

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Hannes, thank you so much for your feedback and observations on the behaviour towards government officials.  My main experience of government officials has been while serving on a Seta board, and in attending Parliamentary portfolio committees.  In my experience, all officials with whom I have dealt, have been unfailing polite and professional - and with very few exceptions  - extremely capable and incredibly knowledgeable about their area. 

We have had a number of discussions about change on this site. I would suggest that the biggest area for change is the arrogant superiority, which many privileged citizens display.  You mention that the person clearly did not know enough even to make constructive comment.  That is my regular experience of people who criticise without even the slightest knowledge of the depth of previous philosophical and policy discussion, and local and international research that informs what is being implemented.

While recognising that ordinary citizens engaged in workplaces are not always sophisticated communicators, in the area of education and training I would suggest that one does have the right to expect mature and respectful communication - with everyone including government officials - without this one wonders how learners are treated.   

I am glad that you agree. Then again, that's how it should be if we are to show the world that the rainbow nation can work and that being "rainbow" can actually be an asset. JPN

I repeat what I have said on so many occasions - to change the world we need to change our atttitudes. Ignorant people refuse to change attitudes and that is the type of person you refer to.

Thank you for the feedback. I will try to get clarification about the recognition of unit standard based qualifications for you. It is attitude and not aptitude that determines altitude.

APPETD has had similar positive experiences in discussions with Dr. Buthelezi.  Our CEO, Cynthia Reynders, says that another meeting with private FET providers is scheduled for mid-January 2013. Rick Edmonds, Chair, HE Chamber

Hi Rick

Do you have any more information on the January meeting (date, venue etc.)?

Thanks

Handri Stadler

Thrive Learning Facilitation

Hi Hannes. Thanks for your summary. I also attended and agree with you regarding some inappropriate behaviour or attitude from some providers. I also agree that Dr Buthelezi always deals with whatever comes his way in a very professional and rational manner.

I work for one of the biggest private education groups, so naturally we take more time to analyse changes in the environment and therefore take more time to act. In the case of the Joint Communique (which affects 4 of our colleges), we are very worried about the legality of the document. If you recall, I asked Dr Buthelezi a question about the legal status of the document. My argument goes as follows: (1) We really want to stay within the law. (2) The current FET Collegs Act and the FET Regulations have been used to urge/force/kindly request that FET providers (also providers who only offer SETA qualifications) register with the Department since 2008. (3) The Act and the Regulations have not changed. (4) The Department is now using the same Act and Regulations to say you don't have to register with them if you offer only SETA/QCTO qualifications.

Surely, any administrative change needs to conform to current legislation, and the Joint Communique may not fall within the current Regulations. The Regulations are very clear: if you want to offer any Level 2 to 4 qualification on the NQF you have to be registered with the State. So one could argue that the Joint Communique is asking providers to act outside the current legal framework. Dr Buthelezi answered my question by saying that the Regulations state that you have to register with the Department if you offer Level 2 to 4 qualifications AND if those qualifications are quality assured by Umalusi. This is most definitely not the case, as Umalusi's role as the quality assurance body of all FET is presented in the Regulations. So if the Department wants the QCTO to now fulfill the role that Umalusi has fulfilled for SETA qualifications, then the FET Colleges Act and the FET Regulations must first change, plus the Skills Development Act must then outline the quality assurance and registration "intermediary" role of the QCTO - similar to that of Umalusi.

That's my opinion, and it surely is common sense that a 180 degree turnaround from everyone-must-register to some-providers-don't-have-to-register must be accompanied by a legislative change, rather than an administrative agreement. Our issue is not that we don't agree with the intention of the Department - we agree that the QCTO should fulfill a similar role for its qualifications to that fulfilled by the CHE and Umalusi for their qualifications on their sub-frameworks. But then the legal framework must be amended before any major instruction of deregistration can be made, or Umalusi must sign a formal MOU with the QCTO to take on some of its functions (which isn't in place, as far as we know).  And if we are proved wrong regarding the legal interpretation and that we may have been over-cautious, then we'll be happy to go along if acting on the Joint Communique won't make us move into a (de-)registration position that may be in contravention of the Regulations.

In an environment where personal interpretations of the Regulations are made every day, I suggest before any provider makes a decision regarding deregistration to get some formal opinion on the matter. You don't want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law, even with the best intentions in mind. Maybe the Legal Committee of APPETD can help here.

Regards

Theuns

 

Yip, You clearly know what you are talking about, so you cannot be the person who misbehaved. I, too have some reservations about the manner in which the issue of registration with DHET is dealt with, but did not even raise my concerns because it did not feel right. I believe I did mention some implications in the first part of my notes, so I will not go into the technicalities again. Point is, one can raise your dissatisfaction in a diplomatic and adult manner. It is (mostly) not necessary to attack people. Hannes Nel

Just to confirm Rick's comment above - Cynthia Reynders the APPETD CEO has confirmed to me as well that given the importance and the concerns raised that there will be another meeting with private providers in mid-January.

May I be so bold as to suggest that in the event that the same person chooses to attend and to repeat the rude and aggressive behaviour that one or more senior members within the audience raise the issue of behaviour and to indicate what constitutes a desired standard of communication within the field of training and development.

As Theuns has outlined, there are technical legal issues to be raised - as indeed there are in other areas of skills development - but let's aim to treat each other with respect - rainbows really are one of the most beautiful features of our planet.

APPETD wishes to extend its gratitude to Dr Buthulezi for the excellent workshop conduct on the 30 October. APPETD received very positive from private providers. - Cynthia Reynders APPETD CEO.

My concern is whether or not such an 'administrative agreement' would hold up if challenged in a court of law.  And if it does, that would be setting a problematic precedent that would be hard to argue against.  Each party (providers and the state) could argue either way and there could be expensive, ugly and protracted litigation where everyone would ultimately loose.  May sanity prevail

I had a quick look again at the Joint Communique - it is clear from the outset, conclusion and general tenor of the document that it is only intended as an interim solution.  Should there be any challenge to the document, the respondents' first reaction would be that it is not intended as a final solution.  (The fact that it took so very long to come to some solution is absolutely besides the point, apparently.  This problem has been existing for a long a time, the dept has threatened legal action in enough instances and it took almost a year for the communique to be drafted and signed. The legislation and regulations might just as well have been changed in that time.)  However, the Communique does end with an undertaking to review the situation and to implement a long-term solution on a date to be announced.  I see my return-comment when APPETD's CEO e-mailed it to me was: "Hier kom nog 'n wetswysiging".  I agree that it is standing on a shaky basis at the moment, but because it is made clear that it is only an interim document, one would only expect a challenge if someone's rights are severely infringed.  As I see the document, it is an attempt to avoid this scenario.  It also means that APPETD and the private providers must keep an eye on developments and not allow this to drag out for longer than 2013.

In an aside: The service providers who were subjected to investigation by the hawks or SAPS would have to ensure that those cases are closed, to avoid a situation that those criminal cases are magically resurrected. 


Regards,
Carla van Veenendaal (Chair of the APPETD Legal Advisory Committee)

Hi Carla. Thanks for your input. I agree that the intention is an interim solution. However, the result is that FET providers are being asked to deregister themselves in (arguably) contravention of the FET Colleges Act and Regulations. Surely a common legal principle is that you cannot administratively make a rule that is in contravention of current legislation, especially if that rule is reversing the application of the regulations - from definite yes to definite no. The intention (however positive and well-meaning) cannot override the legislation.

Hopefully I'm not seen as being difficult and in disagreement of the Joint Communique - the QCTO must start taking on the QC functions enacted in the NQF Act. However, the regulatory world we do training in is so open to individual interpretation that we have to stick to what is on paper and what is law. So my point is that we must get 100% clarity from the DHET that the deregistration of FET Colleges will not result in prosecution in terms of the FET Colleges Act and the Regulations (because technically you will be in contravention of the legislation). But I assume such guarantee will not be easy to get.

Maybe APPETD can raise the issue with the Department as a concern.

Regards

Theuns

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