I have been a fully accredited provider with ETDPSETA for some years now – although working on small scale as compared to Learnership delivering providers. I have successfully presented developed and aligned learning programmes (of which one is the Develop and Design course) for approval, and I have regularly negotiated the increasingly bureaucratic quality assurance system to upload learners with success. (Without much hope that it really ensures quality learning…but that’s another conversation). I have also never been subsidised by SETA funding. I operate privately.
This year, I have very confidently applied for approval for ABET Literacy programmes on levels 1 and 2 (since March 2011), with Level 3 ready for submission as well. I was quite happy to negotiate the challenges of having ABET Literacy learning for the first time being rewarded through credit awards on compiling and assessment of a portfolio, as opposed to the writing of IEB exams and not receiving any reward until successful completion of all three learning areas in a level. It all seemed clear enough and I submitted in exactly the same format of Programme Strategy with alignment matrix, Learning material and a great Assessment Guide with Formative and Summative assessment for all aspects of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing as I did in all previous successful-first-time-round applications.
HOWEVER, I have encountered a number of obstructions, resulting in re-submissions more than once, and still no idea whether I am even on the right target on the eve of wanting to submit Level 3. An abbreviated list of my troubles:
1. No public availability ever of submission dates or feedback dates. Last year’s info on website, also useless to ask for by e-mail.
2. First contact: Courier company delivers all submitted material with a report in an envelope. If programme is Not Approved, NO recommendations. Obviously also no action plan or way forward, and an anonymous evaluator.
3. The obvious route: Re-submit with some adjustments to the matrix and a lengthy explanation of the rationale of the Facilitator Guide, the nature of the learning resources (of which the Learner Workbook is one), and pointing out where the (most important request in report)- The Appeals form is actually included and why it is not part of the Learner Workbook.
4. Next point of contact: Courier company delivers the submitted material with a report in an envelope. Same story, same anonymous evaluator.
By this time I am having serious doubts as to my ability to explain information on paper, by graphic displays and sorting of information in a file with dividers!
5. Next submission in third quarter now. Not much adjustments to be done anymore, and I suggest an opportunity to meet with the evaluator to explain what goes where and why. I also go to the trouble to cross-reference every learner activity to the unit standard outcomes, the Facilitator guide as well, and the crowning glory – every checklist criteria is cross-referenced to unit standard outcomes too!
6. Numerous phone calls, e-mail requests to track progress – as it has an impact on next level submissions. (If the first is understood, the next dovetails… if not….)
7. One of the reasons for Non Approval is no assessor and moderators registered to assess the ABET unit standards. Application for extension of scope also submitted in March – but was returned to me in unopened envelope with learning material not approved. Re-submitted, then hard copies was lost, found, and reported that those unit standards were not on ETDPSETA’s Datanet system. (Quality Assurance since January 2011 the ETDP responsibility as per SAQA website). A visit to the ETQA manager did not help, a personal meeting with the man in charge of Assessor registrations has at least resulted in one Assessor being registered last week. The other, on urgent request today, was registered to assess ABET Practitioner Certificate… which was not part of the application at all!, but still no ABET unit standards… I am waiting response on reporting this matter of misreading.
8. A follow-up today with Programme Evaluation to check if the registered assessor can please be included in the consideration for approval before sending it back for the fourth time, results in me being informed that the reports are already being written and will be available next Friday – I assume by expensive Courier again. And I guess I know what the results will be…
I want to give up. My clients are not keeping the contract for me for a year. Lo and behold, the training need might have changed altogether with new perspectives brought by a new manager. I have no guarantees when I enter this laborious process of programme approval. No way of tracking it, of communicating successfully with the administration of the process, no opportunity to interact and explain where to find what I think is obvious but might not be so in the eyes of a non-subject expert (Languages).. I think.. is trying to evaluate the programme as a skills course. I don’t even have any guarantees that departments will coordinate and speak to each other. And still, I have hope to make a difference in this country by bringing innovative thought and practical solutions to the learning arena. I bite the bullet, work nights, drive my team nuts for perfection in what we deliver. I happily comply with all the requirements of a responsible training provider and MORE. I display it all in every verification visit, despite the fact that each verifier has different expectations than the previous one six months ago. And yet, I will NOT give up – I know what I have is excellent, and I know it is dearly needed out there.
But what more can I do to have my SETA cheer me on???