You can regard this report as mere speculation or scenario building, and your decision can have rather serious implications for the survival of your learning institution if you own one or is employed by one. In the “interesting” times in which we live it is very important to keep track of the changes in our environment and to do contingency planning to ensure the survival of your business. I an article entitled “Red Lights flashing for SETA’s” Annelie Lotriet, Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, expressed the view that SETA’s are on the brink of being closed down. You can read the details at Alternatively you can find a link to this web site on

Did you notice that SETAs  (all of them, not only the ones that never provided a professional service anyway) seem to be in a state of stupor? They don’t seem to care any longer. Phone them, chances are very good that you will find nobody to answer the phone. Apply for accreditation; they will find a lame excuse why they cannot help you. Ask for a verification visit, they don’t come. Ask for an appointment, nobody wants to speak to you. This, together with Annelie Lotriet’s article triggers off the alarm bells in my mind.

So, let’s do some scenario building. What will be the consequences if the SETAs are closed down? To begin with learnerships will be something of the past until such time as some other organisation can pick up the pieces, and years can go by before this happens. Secondly, accreditation of unit standard-based learning programmes will come to a standstill, and with the QCTO not functioning properly yet this can bring growth in especially workplace-based learning to a standstill. Keep in mind that only a handful of new curriculums have been written for occupational learning programmes, so the rest will probably just die a sudden death. Thirdly, the PLRD (SETA/ETQA access programmes to the NLRD) will implode, so it will no longer be possible to enter learner data and credits in the NLRD. It does not take much imagination to see that the demise of the SETAs will also be the end of private providers as we know them.

This paragraph is my personal opinion and, therefore, mere speculation. I am of the opinion that the Minister will probably establish offices run by his representatives at public FET Colleges to take over the functions of the SETAs, or at least some of the functions, which might include the large majority of quality assurance functions, currently fulfilled by what is left of the ETQAs.  We can build yet another scenario around this. In a nutshell this will mean that public FET Colleges will “take over” all learnerships (they actually already did) and private learning institutions will be at their mercy (they already are). We also know that many public FET Colleges are not professional, so you can imagine that they will use private learning institutions as scapegoats for their deficiencies and inability to perform.

So, what can us private learning institutions do about this? To begin with we need to stop putting so much pressure on the SETAs. We are partially to blame for their predicament, although one can argue that they were asking for it by not performing as they should have. Secondly, the APPETD should do a proper analysis of the situation and develop a strategic plan for the future of private ETD in South Africa. Thirdly, don’t panic and just close your institution down – embrace the adventure and use your creativity, intelligence and drive to identify the opportunities in the situation, and ride the wave.

Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet

Views: 2069

Replies to This Discussion

Apparently QCTO is considering devolving qa back to the SETAs - as the QCTO does not have the capacity. This is according to a recent meeting held with FASSET but nothing is finally decided. We really need to go back to basics. Forget about over-regulation and centralised control and let businesses be businesses and let the buyer beware (the CPA is good protection for the consumer these days). Instead of the Dept worrying about the private providers who cater for only 10% of provision in SA, let them clean up their own doorstep first. Private providers that will survive will offer good service as part of their strategic plans etc; fly-by-nights will always exist but the system is being  draconically regulated to try to stop them as opposed to facilitating the legitimate providers. The system is imploding in on itself, in my view. 

Private providers should not rely on SETA or any other govt funding, and should be self-sustaining. It's possible.

You know, Jaqui, I actually agree with you. Regards, JPN

Thanks Hannes for starting this discussion.  I'm preparing to run a workshop next week and the delegates are expecting me to be able to update them on what is happening.  Should I say that we are going around in circles.  On one hand we have the report from a member of the Parliamentary committee that they are told by the Department representative that they appear to be considering closing down the Setas.  Then we have a meeting apparently between the QCTO and a Seta that they are considering devolving to the Setas. 

From a human resource perspective, how can anyone be expected to provide a motivated service in this environment? Does anybody know what they can expect - will their job exist next year?  My recent experience of a Seta is that individuals appear to be petrified into inaction by fear of the Board and the Administrators.

I agree entirely with Jacqui's comment - service providers need to look at their business model and not see Setas - or the apparently invisible - NSF as the source of survival.  Look rather to serve the needs of the economy, business and the people - especially the youth. 

Hi, Sylvia - I suggest you have a chat with Suzanne Hattingh or Gloria Connelan . The ASDSA workshop we had yesterday was very informative

Thanks Jacqui - will do.

I would have suggested that they accept that we need to manage change. Perhaps we (Mentornet) might arrange a breakfast workshop on how to manage change in a dynamic environment. Will see. Regards, JPN

According to the Services seta - the QCTO advise them on the 27th September 2012 via official communication that they (SSETA) are now responsible for all quality issues.

As a result - quess what? they are in the process of appointing Quality Assurance and Devlopment Practitioners in each province until December 2013.  

So yes, we are going around in circles  and No, the future of private providers as w know them is uncertain.

What about those small or large providers currently undergoing accreditation process? 

Do we as providers have any form of legal protection should the SETAs be closed down?

Yes - plan to survive without the SETAS and as Hannes says "embrace the challenges of the future".    

Hi Des, this is a quotation from the SAQA site: "On 1 October 2012, the QCTO will resume the quality assurance function from SAQA and take full responsibility for quality assurance in the trades and occupations sector. This is a significant step in the ongoing development and implementation of the NQF. The QCTO will appoint Quality Assurance partners to assist the QC in the quality assurance of all formal NQF registered and accredited learning within its mandated sector.

SAQA has undertaken to formally advise the SETAs that their SAQA delegated quality assurance responsibilities will come to an end on 30 September 2012. It is pleasing to note that in most cases the QCTO will be appointing the organisations that assisted SAQA during the transition period as QCTO Quality Assurance partners."  It was issued by the SAQA & QCTO CEOs.

Now if I understand this, the QCTO is responsible for quality assurance, they re-delegate to the Setas (SAQA previously delegated - now it's from the QCTO).  When you say Services Seta are appointing quality partners - under what legislation is that?  Under the delegation document I assume.  Do we have a copy/reference for the QCTO delegation to the Setas?  What does that document say?

I am assuming that the SGB role is substituted by the development quality partners. Then there is the accreditation ETQA role, and the assessment quality partner role.  Is that correct?

If my assumptions are correct, and if the appointments are until 2013, then if the Setas were "closed down"/amalgamated into a smaller number, the quality development & assurance roles would then move back to the QCTO.

Hi SYlvia

SGB's were disbanded about 3 years ago. And yes, the QCTO does seem to be delegating the qa of providers back to the SETA's - they do not have the capacity to do anything else. So it's more of the same, I think. I for one, am quite glad because we work with FASSET and they are up to par in this regard - star SETA! The problem is that the policies are kind of being made up as the QCTO goes along e.g. they don't have a curriculum development template that they can provide us like SAQA used to have or an assessment template - and so we now have to work with QDF's (quality development facilitators) who charge consultants fees for their services. We have estimated that the development of 1 qualification will cost in the region of R100 000. I find this rather objectionable. In the past I developed and designed all our qualifications by myself (approved by a community of expert practitioners) but all of a sudden I am not longer regarded as capable of doing this without guidance! Puhleese! 

I am desperately concerned that all these bureaucrats are completely behind the times.  When I see and hear the comments of someone like Salman Khan - see the Khan Academy site I realise how inappropriate this all is for future ideas of self education in a fast moving world.  All these incredibly slow - and now also expensive - development of qualifications, which will be out of date before they are implemented will cause our youth to be even further behind than they currently are. 

It's like developing a perfect qualification to teach people to make a fire using two sticks! Beautifully developed, wonderful quality assessment process - just absolutely useless in modern world.

I completely agree! I wonder if the Minister has someone reading these comments - I hope so. He needs to take note of what this key constituency is saying

Well - see the posting below this from Marianna Bibbey on the partnership with Blackburn UK! Maybe the local contribution isn't valued?


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