Seta accreditation policy implementation leaves providers with significant risks.

Accreditation policy of the seta places providers at risk… Why should this be allowed to still perpetuate?

This is a response of my immense frustration in trying to understand the diverse implementation of the private provider accreditation policy of the seta’s. I speak specifically on learning programme accreditation. Some seta’s require that the provider submit all their learning materials (learner guide, facilitator guide and assessment guides). Is this really necessary?

This requirement poses an enormous risk to the provider. The particular ETQA (still using old vocab) offers no legal security that offers protection on the intellectual property. I have had an opportunity to address the matter at board level with one seta, and the implementation was amended, thankfully.

I currently work with 2 seta’s who require all materials. I cannot understand the purpose. I believe mechanisms should be put in place to evaluation on provider site or ask the provider to produce the material and evaluate it in his/her presence. This maintains and protects the integrity of the system.

I had seen over the years instances where provider material was taken and sold or given to friends. This is a reality and it happens. We all know this, yet the system still perpetuates.

This implies therefore, that as a stakeholder, our opinion matters little?
I have often heard the reason that some “weak providers” have inadequate materials hence the request. Surely a weak provider will manifest in all areas not just learning materials?

I fully support the evaluation of the material but do it without exposing the provider to the associated risks.

Some seta’s have a matrix which require exact page number of your material. This I think is a good alternative. The evaluator will “check it out” on site as per the application.

I do believe we need to more respect. In many instances private providers (key stakeholders) are not even consulted in any change of implementation.

I stress, we want quality training and the integrity of the system maintained so this is not about short-circuiting the process. Its about protecting the rights of the provider.

My purpose is to see if there are other views on this matter. Maybe I am being too paranoid, if so let me see a good reason for the risks I am exposed to as a provider!!

Once we establish that this is an accepted problem, I will pose suggestions on how it can be addressed. We have had some discussions on this matter at the APPETD FET chamber.
Dr Tholsia Naidoo

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While I fully agree with your view on the risks providers take in submitting all materials for programme approval, I also have to point out the obvious.

There are many providers who claim to have all relevant curriculum documents in place for a programme they wish to implement and they do not have it. There are SETAs who don't even look or ask for critical documents such as assessment strategies, alignment strategies, etc. and by the time learners are ready to exist; they can't.

it is important that the ETQA verifies the necessary resources to implement a programme, and I agree they should go on-site and do it with provider presence and have a face to face conversation about the way forward. I also know of a SETA who turns a blind eye on their own evaluator's code of ethics when it comes to confidentiality issues. Evaluators in this SETA have taken provider material and they sold it to other providers. WHAT??????? And no consequences.

At the same time; Providers have to look at their own ethical conduct and make sure all programme documents are aligned and in place and stop pretending it is when its not.

Both stakeholders have an equal responsibility in terms of quality provision and integrity.

HI Pearl. appreciate the comments. Unfortunately the poor practice is allowed to pass by the current processes. The problem is indeed multifaceted and required a well thought through system that ensures integrity of practice. My point though is that we should have the ear of ETQA managers. 

I am aware of good work emanating within the QCTO model however in the interim, i suggest we address the issue with the ETQA that do require LG's to be submitted.

I would raise this at the next APPETD meeting and recommend based on discussions here, that alternate strategies are suggested. Its important however, that we stress that as providers we have the same goal and thats to ensure good quality learning and the promotion of best practice.

Strong point on material.But it also points same fingers on providers who get individual certificates and CVs for accreditations ( assuming its assessors/moderators/facilitators) but never engage the individuals in any way! More to be cleaned in the system.

Agreed Marufu. Perhaps, an agreement in place prior allowing use should be considered.

Could not agree more.

We submitted material 6 months ago to the WRSETA KZN offices. Two months ago they outsources the process to a provider that offers very similar courses to ours. The provider requested changes and we had to submit a second batch of copies. Now six months later, the programme is still not approved and I'm still struggling to get my two (batches of copies) of the programmes out of them. Where is it? O, did I mention that we submitted 3 programmes together in the batch and paid R4500 for one of the courses that we bought off the shelf? May I also add that they very popular courses. Who must you blame? The provider/person who done the evaluation or the SETA?

Problem again is that you don't get any response from them. Phone calls, emails..... Not even their ETQA Manager in their Head Office response to any emails or responses.

Should they not have a separate process in place when they "outsource" the process to someone externally? Haven't seen any confidentiality agreements. We were under the impression the ETQA managers doing the evaluation.

Also, another thing. Most of the SETA's required the full matrix (alignment from the US to the Learning Material and Assessment activities) in the Learner Guide and Workbook. Anyone who attends the course get a copy of the learner guide and the workbook.

Question: What else do you need to copy this work and submit this as your own? You given everything to them on a silver plate. Matrix, learner guide, workbook.... Al you have to do is to add the Facilitator Guide, Assessment guide and there you go.

The full matrix must be removed from learner guides and workbooks. People who want to copy must at least do their own alignment matrix.

Unless information like this is shared, we don't quite realise the impact of the issue. I do think its worth a follow up with the Seta's that i know who have this strategy. I will revert with feedback on the discussions.

Good point (as usual!) Tholsia,

To my mind it is not really material that has the value, it's what you do with it. It can all be found on the Internet.

My view is that SETA's should be spending lots and lots on course developers who develop course material for all skills progrmmes, learning programmes, learnerships that fall within their respective scopes. This material should then be released to any provider wishing to be accredited.

It is then up to the provider to:

1. Use that material and tailor it to their particular method of delivery (contact training, correspondence, e - learning, blended e- learning etc.)

2. Develop training aids, Learner guides, formative assessment tools and guides and faciltator guides aligned to the method of delivery and the reference material; submit that, together with the infrastructural material QMS, Business Plan, Finacial Reports etc. under cover of a SETA standard confidentiality agreement which has real teeth in it to deal with any breach.

3. I do not believe that each provider should be its own assessment body: somehow, this needs to be a centralised function. Having said that however I believe that a great deal more assessment needs to be workplace based. Within this environment, written exams and tests, irrespective of the field, have at best very little practical value.

This would, I like to think, take a lot of the subjectivity and "making up our own rules as we go along" out of the quality assurance process. What would also add a huge amount of value here is direct involvement of industry bodies of subject matter expertise in the quality assurance process. They are after all the providers' customers: they should be the ones who decide on what is acceptable or not in a providers' products.

A major downfall in the current system is that SETAs neither know nor care what their industries need from their providers. Why should they?  

Hi charles. Good to hear from you. This is a difficult one, whilst it does mitigate the issues. As a long term strategy, its great. I have even toyed with the idea of having a "swap" space where providers could exchange material, mutually beneficial!! Makes huge sense... We could at least start discussions on it.

It is, indeed a problem that training materials submitted for evaluation end up in the hands of other learning providers. Some of our materials even ended up at a university.But hey, imitation is the best form of compliment. Fact remains, quality assurance is necessary and it is important that the training materials used by providers are properly evaluated. I've seen some really shocking materials used by providers, and this cannot be allowed. We invite the SETA to send an evaluator to our premises when we have a good number of learning programmes to be evaluated. For single unit standards we superimpose a watermark on the materials of which we  submit a hard copy only, and our IT Manager inserts a mark in the materials that cannot be seen if you do not know how to activate it. This we can use to trace the origin of materials, should somebody who is not authorised use it. I wonder how the QCTO will deal with this dilemma, of will they not allow learning providers to develop training materials? Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet

I have always maintained that providers do NOT have to submit the learning materials that contain actual content to the ETQAs. This is the intellectual property of the institution. Hard copies should be available during site visits for the evaluator to check the quality. No provider should be required to provide hard or soft copies of learning materials to the ETQA. Providers could take this issue up with SAQA - maybe through the ASDSA or APPETD. At a recent ASDSA conference, Eddie Brown invited providers to report problems they experienced with irregular processes or non-performance of SETAs/ETQAs to SAQA.  This is a serious enough issue for SAQA to set clear guidelines forall ETQAs. Let's hope that the QCTO will not follow the ETQA approach - but until the QCTO quality assurance processes are operational, the ETQAs will continue performing this function.


Thanks Suzanne. I agree that issues like this can only be addressed if we bring them forward. To be honest i have cursed under my breath for years on this issue but only the recent discussion with a seta quality rep was the "straw that broke the camels back" as they say!! 

Having heard that the evaluators are providers themselves offering similar qualifications is unacceptable. I guess the QC's would be the best place for discussions. I am going to try to have the discussion with the manager concerned in the hope that it can be addressed.

hi Hannes. I think its a matter thats on the table for discussion currently as it will fall within the scope of the AQP. The risk factors will be raised, i am also glad that the concerns of providers are taken seriously by QCTO committee. There were many lessons learnt over the last few years that can help shape a better system. Some international benchmarks are useful and could show options whilst maintaining a South African context.


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