Are we another catch 22 situation on RPL with SABC saga,a case on point??

By normanntai, 16 May, 2012

Does the SABC credentials saga unlock ‘RPL bottlenecks’ in the workplace?

Lately in one interview scenario a SABC credentials saga was flagged as a case studies to resolve. Perhaps South Africa must consider having an ‘appointment ombudsman’, to adjudicate on all appointments versus so-called currently followed ‘standards on good practice when hiring’.

A new topic on its own for another time! In one interview as part of my labor politics experience, the panelists ‘negated’ to appoint an equally qualified person on the basis that when appointing, the ‘highly qualified candidate’ will undermine the manager, who was ‘least qualified’, yet remains appointed…[outcomes were resolved through an award]

This is my view illustrated a total rip-off on people, who valued the importance of self-cultivation and the essence of burning the mid-night oil! The question was ‘the SABC is moving ahead to employ a new chief operating officer.

Most ‘people’ are pushing for a public commentary on same. One candidate does not have a matric’. What should be your comment about this appointment? ‘Some people are strongly arguing it is unthinkable to have someone in that position without a basic qualification whilst others think that it is not an issue as there important politicians and leaders who do not have formal qualifications’.

 This reminded me of a paper I prepared for Workers’ College Conference few years back under the theme ‘Broadening RPL: Potential for Collective Action-Promoting Redress and Social Justice’. I went further to argue such platforms ‘should indeed enhance the fermentation of putting into practice the delivery of instruments such as RPL to answer key questions around redress and social justice as a collective exercise to address critical issues around skills shortage’.

Rhetorical questions remain around; how many learners were able to access jobs and progress in various career paths through the usage of the RPL Instruments? And lastly, how many learners were able to realize the importance of this instrument in recognition of their individual non-formal experience? Is the SABC responding to these two questions and/or are there ‘ultra vires motives’ to such a move away from RPL perspectives?

To study sensitive topics such as the one dealing with ‘proper qualifications’, we are often stuck taking respondents at their dubious word. The SABC few days after released a presser saying they don’t doubt the capabilities of the person in question….a hooray for Recognition of Prior Learning [RPL] exponents? Even if, we can unleash a snap public survey on the importance of qualifications, we will receive different responses, from different people. The truth of any knowledge or theory is determined not by subjective feelings but by objective results in social practice!

The standpoint of practice is the primary and basic standpoint because all genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. Knowledge of any kind is inseparable to direct experience. E.g. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. The reality is that Recognition of Prior Learning [RPL] is one such topic which will erode organizational loyalties because many of the workforces were ‘promoted’ with ‘no sufficient qualifications’, to hold positions of ‘more power and influence’.

On the other hand conflicting understanding about RPL are still prevalent! Some view it as an attempt to lower quality or standards. For the record ‘RPL’, is ‘not training programme’, but an assessment of the competency of an acquired experience to quantify such evidence to warrant ‘qualification recognition’.

The bottom line is vividly illustrated by this truer picture that ‘…Workers are often disadvantaged and denied access to promotion opportunities in favor of others that have formal academic qualification-yet it is those same workers that are then required to assist the person that has been appointed to undertake their role. The reversal of this situation is central to the proper implementation of Employment Equity”. Since we do not observe their [respondent’s] behavior or attitudes directly, we must rely on what people are willing to tell us—and when the topic is sensitive, what they are willing to tell us may very well be “not much.”

This problem is especially pronounced on formal and impersonal attitude surveys, where time constraints, non-repeated interaction, and standardized wording all stack the deck against interviewers gaining sufficient rapport with respondents to coax them into discussing sensitive topics openly.

Perhaps, we must learn intentionally and/or unintentionally from the SABC by endorsing the allegedly least qualified person for the candidacy for a post of chief operations officer, somehow motivated by amongst others, by the following imperatives; to validate the knowledge base of its employees through such moves, to enable them to access further educational and training opportunities through appointment exposure and/or nurture a base for personal growth path and social empowerment. If, indeed the ‘SABC’ was motivated by the three imperatives a ‘big thumps-up’ must be shown by us all, but only if it was to ‘effect total control’ of internal process through a stooge whose role is to agree to everything-then we are preparing for ‘another broadcasting bad movie episode’.

On the other hand the appointment confirmation of a ‘least qualified candidate’, if it is premised on a universal androgugue view that ‘knowledge begins with practice and theoretical knowledge is acquired through practice and must then return to practice’, must never attempt to undermine also national qualification framework in which the highest qualification of matric will never be ‘regarded’. If the answer is yes, then truthfully it implies universities still using the barometer of matric for degree courses must be flushed. One typical and yet interesting case in point is the one of a top South African musician, who has gone back to school to acquire matric to enter for degree studies as it is a mandatory for same.

 The case was hooray[ed] as a clear message for young people as a motivation to study but such appointment at the ‘SABC’ may puncher such self-nurturing quest among the citizenry.

In organizations, ‘people usually perform one of the three essential roles; A Producer, a Manager and A Leader. Each role is vital to the success of an organization. For an example if there is no producer, great ideas and high resolves are not carried out’. ‘The work simply doesn’t get done. Where there is no manager, there is role conflict and ambiguity, every one attempts to be a producer, working independently, with few established systems’. ‘If there is no leader, there is lack of vision and direction. People lose sight of their mission. Although each role is important to the organization, the role of a leader is most important’. ‘Without a strategic leadership, people may dutifully climb the ladder of success but discover, upon reaching the top rung, that it is leaning against the wrong wall’; [Stephen R Lovey, Manage from the left, lead from the right]

Perhaps, such wisdom was vividly exhausted by appointing a ‘least qualified person’, with reasoning that may have suggested that ‘some people with or without proper qualifications’, may fit into these roles with ease. ‘Some’ may say qualification is a piece of paper but the character of a person is supreme!

But should we generalize on the advantages of such a case study to replicate such ‘practices’ in other similar posts and/or corporations? Or such ‘breakthroughs’ should be illustrated as the positive sign of RPL yet become cautious as others may plunge organizations into ‘anarchy’, with no similar positive board endorsement! As managers and leaders in our own right at workplaces, we needed to ferment alternatives that enhance our workforce willpower to advance themselves and/or enhance productive energies, to grow organizations. I argue that with or without qualifications, work of equal nature must be remunerated awesomely to avoid a disgruntled workforce in which credentials will be the only determination on appointment!

One story says ‘a person was appointed and/or promoted on the basis that under his/her term instructions were implemented to the latter with highest ‘turn-over’ recorded ever’. Are still organizations result-driven? Or qualifications bring required results in organization? Negation of ‘other equally important imperatives’, such as experience and/or mastering of organizational culture may become prevalent amongst the rank and file! RPL at workplaces remain a highly untouched component since the dawn of liberation eighteen years ago, like the land ownership question and/or the nationalization of mineral wealth for public benefit!

How do such practices leave the National Qualification Framework imperatives in the current conjuncture or where does it put the role of South African Qualification Authority, to regulate on acceptable standards of qualifications?

Are we in another catch 22 situation on RPL issues?

By: Mampane Norman

Former National Spokesperson at POPCRU

Cell: 0720737959

Twitter: @nmampane

Facebook: Norman Mampane

Email: [email protected]


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