In a Skills Universe message on 23 June 2013 Cas Olivier aired his view that private learning institutions are more flexible than public learning institutions and, as I understand it, private learning institutions should set the example in offering good quality ETD. If one were to research statistics on learning institutions you may well get the impression that he is right. However, as we have seen so often, statistics are not always as accurate as one would have hoped. Furthermore, we sometimes draw conclusions based on statistics that do not really corroborate our arguments. According to the DHET Statistics on Post-School Education and Training in South Africa: 2011
· 62% NC(V) students failed their final exams. This figure, however, might include both private and public FET Colleges.
· SETA initiated learnerships achieved 161% of its target for 2011. One would assume that this is largely due to private learning interventions, but we know that public learning institutions, especially public FET Colleges, are increasingly becoming involved in SETA learning projects.
· The average graduation rate for public higher education institutions is said to be 15% for undergraduate degrees and diplomas. At the same time and for the same period the undergraduate success rate in public higher education institutions is claimed to be 74% (79% for contact learning and 69% for distance learning). This does not make sense, in spite of the detail explanations given on how the statistics were calculated.
If one were to add up the learners enrolled with private learning institutions for 2011 (Private FET Colleges + Private AET Centres + SETA initiated learnerships and other learning programmes + artisans), then the total is something like 288 764, which is quite a significant number of people. So, at least in this respect one can safely conclude that private learning institutions are making an important contribution to preparing people for employment. This, however, still does not mean that private learning institutions are in any respect better than public learning institutions. If we were to analyse how employers and the community perceive learning in institutions, then the “truth” becomes even more elusive.
So, what do you think? Are private learning institutions more flexible than public learning institutions?
Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet