In his presentation at the Third Pan African TVET and FET Colleges Conference in Cape Town on 8 November 2012 Minister Blade Nzimande announced that he will change the collective name of FET (Further Education and Training) Colleges to VET (Vocational Education and Training) Colleges. In addition he pointed out that there is a huge need for transferability of credits and qualifications from FET/VET Colleges to universities. This will promote lifelong learning and improve the status of FET/VET Colleges. The precondition is, of course, that the quality of learning offered by colleges should improve. Yet another consequence of the name change and improved transferability is that the NQF might actually really become an integrated one (which it is not at the moment).

On 6 November 2012 the Irish Minister for Education and Skills announced the formal establishment of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), an apex quality assurance body in the true sense of the word. QQI is an amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance authority which replaces the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), the Further Education and Training Awards Council of Ireland (FETAC), The Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETC) and the Irish Universities Quality Board (UQB) (CEDEFOP web site accessed on 2012/11/13).

The efforts by the Minister of Higher Education and Training to improve the quality and image of FET/VET Colleges and the need for a more integrated NQF makes me wonder if it is not, perhaps, time for us to follow a similar route as Ireland.  Let’s face it, the QCTO is struggling to get going, Umalusi is not performing very well especially in terms of assuring quality in ETD and the CHE/HEQC is, in my opinion, doing almost nothing to assure quality in higher education except for the research reports that they publish from time to time. In addition, having a separate body (SAQA) responsible for the registration of qualifications and awards does not make sense. You cannot divorce quality assurance of learning programmes and learning materials from the quality assurance of learning institutions, although I strongly feel that we also should not mix the two activities.

My feeling is that we should have one Apex Quality Assurance Body responsible for vocational learning, higher education and the accreditation of learning institutions. One might make out an argument that school education should be quality assured by a different body, and there are ample good examples that work, for example Finland and Switzerland. I discussed the concept of an Apex Quality Assurance body in both the books that I wrote on quality assurance of ETD, so this is not a new idea.

Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet


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I would like to see such a thing happen in South Africa. Here we have far too many bodies that are disjointed and primarily doing their own thing. We need a proper structure and maybe this will be a good idea.
A proper re-alignment of the education system is required where there is less bureaucracy, and better quality education.

Ireland is a much smaller country, both geographically and demographically, than South africa and they are also much further along the socio-economic and educational developmental road than we are.  The QCTO (pity it wasn't named QCTPO to more clearly include Professional Occupations) is now making rapid progress and beginning to realize its potential.  To merge our three focussed Quality Councils in one Apex Council would do nothing to improve efficiency or effectiveness.

To create a larger, and inevitably more beauracratic, organization would stifle progress rather than support it.  Let's rather work together to make the legislative and regulatory environment that we have better understood and more user friendly, for the ultimate benefit of all concerned. 

John Scarrott - NEI Committee of APPETD

Read my book on leadership in quality assurance - it might change your mind. Hannes Nel

Hi Hannes - please give us details of your book - thanks

Sorry Hannes - No time to read just one book; too busy trying to understand the environment and learn from actual experience and interaction with my peers! 

Thank you for the go-ahead, Sylvia. The book is entitled "Leadership in Quality Assurance of ETD". There is also a much more academic one which a university prescribed for their honours students entitled "Establishing a Positive Quality Culture in ETD." Not the type of book that one would read for your pleasure, though. More details on the books can be obtained from one of our web sites or by phoning us on 012 653 2119. Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet

I tend to agree with John. Even an apex body would have to consist of different departments dealing with different eduactiona./training levels and forms.For a true NQF integration and flow from lower to higher NQF levels, restructuring in a larger organisation is not necessary. A strong collaboration between and a streamlining of processes and standards accross the current 3 bodies would have the same result. I fear that establishing a new body would in practice become a merger and under SA conditions this would mean more unnecessary staff, hence more unneccesary bureaucracy and higher costs.

Ah gee, all right, I will write some notes on the pros and cons of an Apex QA Body over the weekend and post it on Skills Universe and Intgrty early next week. Hannes Nel

Hi Hannes

You posted an article some time ago related to SAQA as the APEX QA body. Should you not link this back into the discussion as it has revlevance.

Ah, what would we do without people with memories like yours? I will check the article and it might, perhaps, not even be necessary to write a new one. Thank you, Des. Hannes Nel

we need to look at the idea of scholars progressing in the school  system up to grade 9, then moving onto academic  vocational or occupational further studies. this kind of system will definitely require an "Apex Quality Assurance Body" to ensure that progression from school to higher/further learning is effective. i do agree that there is grounds for seperating school from further learning, but having 3 separate QCs is what is creating the problem after school. Lets hope that the Minister hears these suggestions and responds in our favour

Thanks Hannes, getting potnetial pros and cons spelled out will help the discussion


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