The article below has just been published by Skills Portal. This is very much in line with what I have been saying for some time about the Minister of DHET wanting to :
a) Find a suitable way to eventually drop the mandatory grants by an even greater percentage - if not altogether.
b) Find a way to use the SETA funds to fill the gap of resourcing the public FET college system. This is also where all the money that would have been allocated to Discretionary Funding projects of the SETAs is going. As you are all aware, the Minister appears not to have signed off service level agreements with the SETAs for the past two years, and the SETAs in turn have not been able to allocate funds to Discretionary projects such as large scale Learnership projects etc.
c) He does not refer to private FET colleges, but only to FET colleges in general, but it would not take too many brain cells to recognise that he is referring to the public FET system. So where does that leave the private FET colleges and the smaller skills programme and short course providers? It leaves them back at square one and working their magic with the private sector companies as they did in the days before the SETAs were established. The funded learnerships and skills programmes will very likely be reserved for public FET college training and the private FET colleges will need to train with unfunded learnerships and skills programmes. This is still a very viable option for most organisations because skills development still earns 15 points on the BBBEE score card and they can still earn the tax breaks associated with learnerships.
d) It is also unclear though, how the accreditation systems are going to work in the future. The Minister has already indicated that the SETAs must open branches in the FET colleges and I am led to believe that the SETAs will be allocated FET colleges in various provinces and linked to colleges where their sectors are relatively strong. It is my guess that the QCTO will eventually become a centralised ETQA where all SETA accreditation is processed. The long awaited QCTO qualifications seem destined for an archive somewhere.
e) I think the SETAs as they are now will eventually also be resized and will act mainly as research, career resource centres and administrators of learnerships for the FET colleges.
Gill Connellan, Chairperson Association for Skills Development in South Africa
SKILLS PORTAL ARTICLE -
By Cindy Payle
The mismanagement of institutions and policies could be government’s biggest threat to progression and to date its biggest failure in the education sector admits Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande.
“Our government has experienced a number of successes, but it has also had its share of false starts," he said.
During a presentation at the COSATU Education and Skills Conference the minister highlighted poor controls over the levy-grant system and the neglect of FET colleges as two major mistakes made by government within the higher education and training sector.
Speaking on the issue of the levy grant system within Seta’s and the NSF, he confessed that the mismanagement of these institutions has resulted in “more or less independent and unaccountable” entities.
“Not enough effort has been put into making them answerable for their actions and their spending. The result has been a large waste of resources; billions of rand have been spent with little to show in the way of valuable and concrete skills development initiatives.”
Poor controls in other areas of the skills development sector were also reflected in the practices of union representatives who up until recently made up 50% of the SETA boards.
“Unions have often sent relatively junior or inexperienced representatives to the SETA boards and they have not given them clear mandates or held them accountable for their performance.”
“One doubts even if there have been regular report backs to the union leadership or membership. SETA boards as a whole – not only, it must be said, the worker representatives – have not been successful at preventing the kind of misuse of funds which has been so widespread. In some cases the boards or individual board members have themselves been involved in corrupt activities.”
The minister attributed some of the blame to the trade union movement, but asserted that government was in large part responsible for the corruption and fraudulent behaviour that now characterised the skills development landscape.
During the presentation it also surfaced that the attention given to FET colleges in recent month’s forms part of government’s plans to make up for lost time.
“Another big mistake we made was to give insufficient attention to the FET colleges and to keep them largely marginalised in the education and training system. This unfortunate attitude to the development of mid-level vocational skills that this reflects, is also evident in the way we allowed the apprenticeship system to decline.”
With this is mind government aims to “expand university places by two thirds over the next 18 years and to expand enrolments at FET colleges and other post-school institutions to 4 million, an expansion of approximately 500%.”
“At the same time we have already taken measures to improve the quality of the education offered in our institutions and the focus on quality improvement will become a permanent feature of our education system. The main beneficiaries of both the expansion and improved quality of post school education will be the working class as well as the urban and rural poor.”
“With the assistance of our entire society, and especially of the working class, we must continue to identify weaknesses and failures as they arise and to tackle them. This is essential because the cost of failure to develop an effective education and training system will be very large for both our people and our economy.” - Minister Nzimande.
Association for Skills Development in South Africa (ASDSA)
Have you seen the draft regulations regarding learning programmes? point d is taken!