Feedback on urgent meeting for Private FET Colleges by the DHET

By hannesnel, 31 October, 2012

I attended the meeting arranged by DHET held on Tuesday 30 October 2012 to brief Private FET Colleges on the implications of the Interim Guidelines on the Registration and Accreditation of Private Providers Offering Qualifications or Part-qualifications in the Trades and Occupational Sector. I believe all parties involved already read the guidelines, so I will not repeat them here. The DHET should be commended for organising the meeting and for the patience that Dr Buthelezi and other DHET speakers showed towards the attendees. I will get back to this in my closing remarks.

The following are some salient aspects of the guidelines that were discussed:

  1. All qualifications that were previously registered as SETA qualifications will be transferred to the QCTO. One would like the QCTO to confirm that they will accept unit standard aligned qualifications until such time as new curriculums have been written for all qualifications. This will probably take a number of years.
  2. If you voluntarily opt out of your provisional registration with DHET or if you do not indicate in writing that you wish to keep your provisional registration until it expires your institution’s name will be removed from the DHET database. This might have serious implications because clients and learners do not always understand the system or the NQF, and their perception is that learning institutions registered by DHET are better than ones that are not. Furthermore, DHET is creating unnecessary work for themselves because they will need to process annual reports submitted by private learning institution that opt to keep their provisional registration. Why not just cancel all provisional registrations and communicate this as widely as possible? Private learning institutions can also communicate what this means to their clients, as Mentornet already did.
  3. Not being required to register with DHET if you offer only OQF qualifications and part-qualifications is a temporary arrangement. The Skills Development Act will be amended in the near future and will then stipulate that such learning institutions, accredited by the QCTO, must also register with DHET.

In closing, I wish to return to my remark in the first paragraph that the DHET presenters displayed remarkable patience. You know, it is true that state departments do not always provide a professional service, and we all experience quite some frustration because of this. However, we will achieve nothing by being rude and insulting towards people, especially when they do their best to keep us informed. It is very easy to read a person’s body language, especially if it is accompanied by a hostile tone of voice. If you push people they will always push back and you will not achieve anything by shouting at them, threatening them, blaming them and adopting a superior attitude. Ironically some private providers know so little about the NQF and ETD related legislation that they are making utter fools of themselves. I was truly impressed with the mature and patient manner in which Dr Buthelezi dealt with the man who clearly does not even know what the requirements for accreditation and registration are but still adopted this attitude of being very clever and informed. Treating people with respect can go a long way towards fostering a climate of trust and co-operation. Even if the government officials are no always as proficient as they should be, we can achieve so much more by having more understanding for them and explaining rather than attacking, asking rather than demanding and guiding rather than insulting.

Dr Hannes (Jaap) Nel, MD Mentornet   


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