Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education
Update on the QCTO 23rd February 2011
An extract from the report and minutes
On the 23rd of February the DHET updated the Parliamentary Committee for Higher Education on progress related to the Quality Council on Trades and Occupations.
The Committee’s questions focused on when the QCTO would be fully functional as well as on what duties had been delegated back to the SETA’s. In addition the committee was briefed on whether the ETQA bodies would be de-established following the establishment of the QCTO.
It appears that as of February the QCTO could not be established properly as its business plan had not been submitted to National Treasury yet. In addition it appears the QCTO, once fully capacitated, will operate independent of the DHET.
Update on the Quality Council on Trades and Occupations
Mr Gwebs Qonde, Acting Director-General: Department of Higher Education and Training, told the Committee that the South African Qualifications Authority of South Africa set standards or qualifications and registered them with the National Qualifications Framework . It did this by recognising Standard Generating Bodies to do the work. Sector Education Training Authorities often established SGBs under SAQA and developed their own sectoral qualifications. Quality assurance was done by SAQA-accredited Education and Training Quality Assurance bodies. SETAs were accredited as ETQAs. However, duplication occurred as a result of uneven sectoral quality. Therefore, proposals for the Quality Council on Trades and Occupations (QCTO) emerged.
Ms Percy Moleke, DHET Deputy Director-General for Skills Development, said that an inter-ministerial review of the NQF began in 2001, which resulted in a Joint Ministerial Statement (Department of Labour and former Department of Education) in 2007. The statement envisioned a third quality council, the QCTO, alongside Umalusi and the Council on Higher Education (CHE). All three quality councils were to set standards and qualifications as well as take on the responsibility of Quality Assurance. SAQA was given the role to enhance communication, co-ordination and collaboration.
The QCTO was responsible for establishing and maintaining occupational standards and qualifications, for the quality assurance of occupational standards and qualifications, designing and developing occupational standards and qualifications and submitting them to SAQA for registration with the NQF, and for ensuring the quality of occupational standards and qualifications for the workplace.
The Minister had the responsibility of setting policy on occupational standards and qualifications. The Minister also had the responsibility to determine policy on an occupational qualifications sub-framework as an integral part of the NQF, the sub-framework for quality assurance for occupational qualifications, and any other matter concerning occupational standards or occupational qualifications.
An occupational qualification was defined as a qualification associated with a trade, occupation or profession resulting from work-based learning and consisting of knowledge unit standards, practical unit standards, and work experience unit standards. By implication, before the Occupational Sub-Framework for Trades and Occupations could be published, there had to be alignment with other sub-frameworks i.e. Umalusi and CHE. The alignments with the sub-frameworks were under debate. The DHET needed to clarify the overlaps and contradictions in the sub-frameworks. They also had to clarify the roles and responsibilities with other quality councils, and Umalusi in particular on the theoretical component of occupational qualifications, and clarify relations, roles and responsibilities with SETAs.
The Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Act, passed 7 December 2010, provided for QCTO staff establishment. This was being prioritised urgently. The business plan for the QCTO had to be submitted to the National Treasury very shortly.
The QCTO was listed as a Section 3A Public Entity on 31 December 2010, which required a number of obligations to be implemented urgently. The QCTO could only function properly as a public entity once the budget was transferred from the DHET. For this to occur, finance and human resources systems had to be in place.
The QCTO would use the DHET’s systems for an initial phase from 1 April 2011 until it was operationally ready. The DHET would continue to provide support and assistance to ensure that policy matters were clarified, and overlaps with quality councils were addressed. Financial allocations would continue through the DHET.
Ms Adrienne Bird, Acting CEO: QCTO, addressed the question concerning the delegation of duties to the SETAs. She said that the questions had to be answered in respect of the past and the future. Historically, when SAQA was responsible for designing qualifications, there were a number of qualifications registered on the NQF.
These qualifications were quality assured by the SETAs. So, the first duty the DHET wanted to delegate to the SETAs was the responsibilities to continue to quality assure those historic qualifications i.e. those that had been on the system for ten years or so. This meant that they would continue to accredit quality providers who delivered programmes, and over-seeing the assessments that took place.
There was also a proposal to start some pilot projects where some of the work would be done differently. There were many problems in the past concerning uneven quality. To rectify this, the QCTO was bringing in a system of national standards. There were no longer sectoral standards. The pilot project would involve asking an individual SETA to act as the convenor across other SETAs in respect of particular occupations.
Mr S Makhubele (ANC) asked if the ETQAs would be de-established now that the QCTO had been created.
Ms Moleke explained that the establishment of the QCTO did indeed mean that the ETQAs would be de-established. This was quite a process as the QCTO was not yet up and running and could not focus on quality assurance yet. Functions would have to move from the SETAs to the QCTO, but because the entity was still being capacitated, SETAs would still be used.
In response to another question it was stated “the DHET was working very hard on establishing timeframes for the QCTO. But, this was dependent on the budget. He hoped this would be completed soon”
Mr Wilson Nzimande, Chairperson: QCTO, added that he understood the importance of timeframes, especially for the Committee and the greater public. The establishment of the QCTO had to be finalised by the end of 2011. However, there were many issues such as the matter of the organogram, appointments of staff and capacity constraints that had to be resolved.
Des Squire (Managing Member)
AMSI and ASSOCIATES cc