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31st Oct 2012 at 9:40 am #5681
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
31st Oct 2012 at 7:47 pm #5710
Hannes, thank you so much for your feedback and observations on the behaviour towards government officials. My main experience of government officials has been while serving on a Seta board, and in attending Parliamentary portfolio committees. In my experience, all officials with whom I have dealt, have been unfailing polite and professional – and with very few exceptions – extremely capable and incredibly knowledgeable about their area.
We have had a number of discussions about change on this site. I would suggest that the biggest area for change is the arrogant superiority, which many privileged citizens display. You mention that the person clearly did not know enough even to make constructive comment. That is my regular experience of people who criticise without even the slightest knowledge of the depth of previous philosophical and policy discussion, and local and international research that informs what is being implemented.
While recognising that ordinary citizens engaged in workplaces are not always sophisticated communicators, in the area of education and training I would suggest that one does have the right to expect mature and respectful communication – with everyone including government officials – without this one wonders how learners are treated.
1st Nov 2012 at 5:27 am #5709
5th Nov 2012 at 7:04 am #5708
5th Nov 2012 at 10:15 am #5707
Hi Hannes. Thanks for your summary. I also attended and agree with you regarding some inappropriate behaviour or attitude from some providers. I also agree that Dr Buthelezi always deals with whatever comes his way in a very professional and rational manner.
I work for one of the biggest private education groups, so naturally we take more time to analyse changes in the environment and therefore take more time to act. In the case of the Joint Communique (which affects 4 of our colleges), we are very worried about the legality of the document. If you recall, I asked Dr Buthelezi a question about the legal status of the document. My argument goes as follows: (1) We really want to stay within the law. (2) The current FET Collegs Act and the FET Regulations have been used to urge/force/kindly request that FET providers (also providers who only offer SETA qualifications) register with the Department since 2008. (3) The Act and the Regulations have not changed. (4) The Department is now using the same Act and Regulations to say you don’t have to register with them if you offer only SETA/QCTO qualifications.
Surely, any administrative change needs to conform to current legislation, and the Joint Communique may not fall within the current Regulations. The Regulations are very clear: if you want to offer any Level 2 to 4 qualification on the NQF you have to be registered with the State. So one could argue that the Joint Communique is asking providers to act outside the current legal framework. Dr Buthelezi answered my question by saying that the Regulations state that you have to register with the Department if you offer Level 2 to 4 qualifications AND if those qualifications are quality assured by Umalusi. This is most definitely not the case, as Umalusi’s role as the quality assurance body of all FET is presented in the Regulations. So if the Department wants the QCTO to now fulfill the role that Umalusi has fulfilled for SETA qualifications, then the FET Colleges Act and the FET Regulations must first change, plus the Skills Development Act must then outline the quality assurance and registration “intermediary” role of the QCTO – similar to that of Umalusi.
That’s my opinion, and it surely is common sense that a 180 degree turnaround from everyone-must-register to some-providers-don’t-have-to-register must be accompanied by a legislative change, rather than an administrative agreement. Our issue is not that we don’t agree with the intention of the Department – we agree that the QCTO should fulfill a similar role for its qualifications to that fulfilled by the CHE and Umalusi for their qualifications on their sub-frameworks. But then the legal framework must be amended before any major instruction of deregistration can be made, or Umalusi must sign a formal MOU with the QCTO to take on some of its functions (which isn’t in place, as far as we know). And if we are proved wrong regarding the legal interpretation and that we may have been over-cautious, then we’ll be happy to go along if acting on the Joint Communique won’t make us move into a (de-)registration position that may be in contravention of the Regulations.
In an environment where personal interpretations of the Regulations are made every day, I suggest before any provider makes a decision regarding deregistration to get some formal opinion on the matter. You don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law, even with the best intentions in mind. Maybe the Legal Committee of APPETD can help here.
5th Nov 2012 at 12:16 pm #5706
Yip, You clearly know what you are talking about, so you cannot be the person who misbehaved. I, too have some reservations about the manner in which the issue of registration with DHET is dealt with, but did not even raise my concerns because it did not feel right. I believe I did mention some implications in the first part of my notes, so I will not go into the technicalities again. Point is, one can raise your dissatisfaction in a diplomatic and adult manner. It is (mostly) not necessary to attack people. Hannes Nel
5th Nov 2012 at 7:59 pm #5705
Just to confirm Rick’s comment above – Cynthia Reynders the APPETD CEO has confirmed to me as well that given the importance and the concerns raised that there will be another meeting with private providers in mid-January.
May I be so bold as to suggest that in the event that the same person chooses to attend and to repeat the rude and aggressive behaviour that one or more senior members within the audience raise the issue of behaviour and to indicate what constitutes a desired standard of communication within the field of training and development.
As Theuns has outlined, there are technical legal issues to be raised – as indeed there are in other areas of skills development – but let’s aim to treat each other with respect – rainbows really are one of the most beautiful features of our planet.
6th Nov 2012 at 6:34 am #5704
7th Nov 2012 at 6:58 am #5703
7th Nov 2012 at 7:05 am #5702
My concern is whether or not such an ‘administrative agreement’ would hold up if challenged in a court of law. And if it does, that would be setting a problematic precedent that would be hard to argue against. Each party (providers and the state) could argue either way and there could be expensive, ugly and protracted litigation where everyone would ultimately loose. May sanity prevail
7th Nov 2012 at 7:07 am #5701
7th Nov 2012 at 7:55 am #5700
7th Nov 2012 at 7:55 am #5699
Hi everyone – one issue that has not been address is that of VAT. SARS exempts private providers who are registered with DHET from the VAT Act because there is no VAT on educational services. But the VAT Act clearly states that the company must be registered with DHET (this is section 12(h)(i)(aa) of the VAT Act 1991). If we are de-registered does this mean we now need to charge VAT, which will increase the cost of education to the end user? I have directed an enquiry to SAQA on behalf of CIMAP for an official answer – but maybe someone else would like to speculate while i am waiting for SAQA to get back to me?
7th Nov 2012 at 7:57 am #5698
7th Nov 2012 at 8:34 am #5697
I repeat what I have said on so many occasions – to change the world we need to change our atttitudes. Ignorant people refuse to change attitudes and that is the type of person you refer to.
Thank you for the feedback. I will try to get clarification about the recognition of unit standard based qualifications for you. It is attitude and not aptitude that determines altitude.
7th Nov 2012 at 9:28 am #5696
7th Nov 2012 at 12:28 pm #5695
Carla Van VeenendaalParticipant
I had a quick look again at the Joint Communique – it is clear from the outset, conclusion and general tenor of the document that it is only intended as an interim solution. Should there be any challenge to the document, the respondents’ first reaction would be that it is not intended as a final solution. (The fact that it took so very long to come to some solution is absolutely besides the point, apparently. This problem has been existing for a long a time, the dept has threatened legal action in enough instances and it took almost a year for the communique to be drafted and signed. The legislation and regulations might just as well have been changed in that time.) However, the Communique does end with an undertaking to review the situation and to implement a long-term solution on a date to be announced. I see my return-comment when APPETD’s CEO e-mailed it to me was: “Hier kom nog ‘n wetswysiging”. I agree that it is standing on a shaky basis at the moment, but because it is made clear that it is only an interim document, one would only expect a challenge if someone’s rights are severely infringed. As I see the document, it is an attempt to avoid this scenario. It also means that APPETD and the private providers must keep an eye on developments and not allow this to drag out for longer than 2013.
In an aside: The service providers who were subjected to investigation by the hawks or SAPS would have to ensure that those cases are closed, to avoid a situation that those criminal cases are magically resurrected.
Carla van Veenendaal (Chair of the APPETD Legal Advisory Committee)
7th Nov 2012 at 12:47 pm #5694
Which is really counterproductive, since there has been much speculation that the Government wants to get rid of private providers. As you say, if that is true, this sort of behaviour simply confirms the view that they don’t belong. We do rather shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes.
7th Nov 2012 at 12:50 pm #5693
Hi Carla. Thanks for your input. I agree that the intention is an interim solution. However, the result is that FET providers are being asked to deregister themselves in (arguably) contravention of the FET Colleges Act and Regulations. Surely a common legal principle is that you cannot administratively make a rule that is in contravention of current legislation, especially if that rule is reversing the application of the regulations – from definite yes to definite no. The intention (however positive and well-meaning) cannot override the legislation.
Hopefully I’m not seen as being difficult and in disagreement of the Joint Communique – the QCTO must start taking on the QC functions enacted in the NQF Act. However, the regulatory world we do training in is so open to individual interpretation that we have to stick to what is on paper and what is law. So my point is that we must get 100% clarity from the DHET that the deregistration of FET Colleges will not result in prosecution in terms of the FET Colleges Act and the Regulations (because technically you will be in contravention of the legislation). But I assume such guarantee will not be easy to get.
Maybe APPETD can raise the issue with the Department as a concern.
8th Nov 2012 at 7:19 am #5692
8th Nov 2012 at 7:40 am #5691
8th Nov 2012 at 10:05 am #5690
Two trends have come out of this discussion – the legal technicalities of whether the interim arrangements are sustainable (or actionable) prior to the necessary legal amendments, and also the manner in which providers deal with government officials.
On the second point, one assessment of USA Presidential election suggested that voters voted for the person who seemed better able to deal with difficult problems and people. It seems that the people who succeed best in today’s complex, difficult, contested environments (which definitely describes skills development), are not the richest, the best educated or the most intelligent, but the ones best able to work constructively within that environment.
Finally – an observation. Silence implies consent, so I’d suggest that if one attends a meeting where the audience is from a common interest group and one of the audience is particularly rude, and the audience remains silent, the implication is that they are in agreement.
8th Nov 2012 at 11:37 am #5689
8th Nov 2012 at 12:22 pm #5688
The response from QCTO is as follows – “Current SAQA registered qualifications have been extended by SAQA on behalf of the QCTO for another three years as an interim transitional arrangement until the QCTO Qualifications are in place.
The ETQA regulations that governed the ETQA functions of SETAs and Professional Body ETQA came to an end on 30 September 2012. As form 1 October 2012, the QCTO delegated the Quality Assurance Functions of the re-registered SAQA Qualifications to the current SETAs and Professional Body ETQAs in line with their allocated Qualifications to quality assure by SAQA before 1 October 2012.
8th Jan 2013 at 10:39 am #5687
This is just an update on the issue regarding the Joint Communique of 2012 and the deregistration of private FET providers that do not offer Umalusi qualifications.
I see in today’s New Age newspaper is a message to the Matric Class of 2012 and out-of-school youth from Minister Nzimande, giving them advice about the process for registering at Public FET Colleges. He also urges students who want to enrol at private colleges that they have to ensure that the college is “legally registered”, by asking a set of questions (inter alia):
1. “Is the private education institution registered with the DHET?”
2. “If registered, is the certificate for registration displayed?”
4. “Is the qualification you are interested in listed on the certificate?”
It seems that the DHET missed the trick here to inform students of the new registration requirements of private FET/SD providers – it is as if the Joint Communique never happened.
I sincerely hoped that 2013 would bring more clarity…
8th Jan 2013 at 10:49 am #5686
8th Jan 2013 at 11:05 am #5685
24th Jan 2014 at 8:37 am #5684
Hi there everybody,
I’m really grateful to be able to be part of this forum. I appreciate reading the different perspectives regarding the relationship between the DHET and private providers. It is my intention to further my understanding of how the DHET understands the role and status of private providers.
We are still in the ‘interim’ phase as indicated by the Joint Communique 1 of 2012 in which:
- Private SD providers who are not yet registered with the DHET and who wish to offer only OQF qualifications and part-qualifications on Levels 1 – 10 are currently not required to register with the DHET.
- Private SD providers who are already registered with the DHET for OQF qualifications or part-qualifications may continue with their current offerings, but do not need to apply for re-registration with the DHET when their registration period ends.
- Private SD providers who are currently registered with the DHET and wish to extend their scope of provision to offer additional qualifications or part-qualifications that are registered on the OQF need only to apply for accreditation with the QCTO or the delegated body.
My understanding of this is that the 3 bullet points above (as taken from the Joint Communique) thus temporarily suspend or negate the parts of the Higher Education Act and the Further Education and Training Colleges Act which require private higher education institutions and FET colleges respectively to register with the DHET.
I am thus a little confused and anxious as to the DHET’s recent ‘Warning Statement’ in which the DHET urged students, parents and guardians to ensure that the institutions they enrol with are legally registered. The implication of this statement is that institutions MUST be registered with the DHET (students are encouraged to check for themselves the registration status of any private FET college by logging on to the DHET website). This is all in connection with the DHET being “inundated with complaints from students who have fallen prey to bogus, illegal or unregistered private Further Education and Training (FET) colleges”.
In other words, their statement says that Private FET Colleges that are not registered with the DHET could be in some way seen as ‘bogus’ and ‘illegal’.
Does anybody else see this as unfair and in some way contradictory to what was stated in the Joint Communique?
We are all aware that there are shady providers out there who are only interested in fleecing students and that these providers should be shut down.
However, I do feel that the DHET is creating an unnecessary sense of panic and confusion in the minds of students and prospective students. The DHET, by issuing such statements, is unfairly impacting on the reputation of ethical private FET Colleges that, for reasons outlined in the Joint Communique, are not currently registered with the DHET.
The College that I represent is currently registered with the DHET. However, there are several private colleges that are no longer registered with the DHET, and these colleges are by no means ‘bogus’ or ‘illegal’.
It is difficult not to think that the DHET sees private FET providers in a less than favourable light. In the DHET’s White Paper for Post-School Education and Training (2013), there is reference to ‘unscrupulous private providers’ who offer provider programmes. The text continues by saying these providers mislead students. In addition, strong reference is made to ‘private providers, including large and apparently reputable ones, openly advertise unaccredited courses in the knowledge that the authorities do not have the capacity to deal with their transgressions’.
This is a major bone of contention for me – it is not illegal or unscrupulous to offer unaccredited courses.
According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) document entitled “Criteria and Guidelines for Short Courses and Skills Programmes”:
“Short course provisioning is one of the most dynamic features of the emerging education and training system of South Africa. …. A third area where short course provisioning is important is where learners require a target short learning programme to upgrade skills and knowledge to ensure success in their chosen field of learning.
… Non-credit-bearing short courses include a variety of short learning programmes for which no credits are awarded. … In conclusion, the purpose of short learning programmes could be any, or a combination of the following:
• To provide learners with practical (hands-on) learning where appropriate;
• To increase employability, self-employment possibilities and mobility within a workplace and a sector;
• To provide access to learning opportunities towards nationally registered unit standards and qualifications;
• To provide occupationally directed and focused learning; and • To contribute towards closing the skills gap as identified in the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP), the Sector Skills Plan (SSP) and National Skills Plan (NSP)”.
According to SAQA’s “Criteria and Guidelines for Short Courses and Skills Programmes”, there is a clear rationale and need for unaccredited programmes:
- To provide learners with practical (hands-on) learning where appropriate;
- To increase employability, self-employment possibilities and mobility within a workplace and a sector;
- To provide access to learning opportunities towards nationally registered unit standards and qualifications;
- To provide occupationally directed and focused learning, and
- To contribute towards closing the skills gap as identified in the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP), the Sector Skills Plan (SSP) and National Skills Plan (NSP).
[Paraphrased from: “Criteria for Approving Skills Programmes”, Department of Labour, 2001].
In addition, a short learning programme could also have as its purpose to:
- Update learners on new developments and insights in their professions;
- Upgrade foundation knowledge for successful completion of a chosen field of learning;
- Earn credits towards formal programmes should learners wish to build on the learning attained through short learning programmes; and / or
- Be intended for personal enrichment.
My College is very clear and transparent in informing students about the differences between accredited and non-accredited courses. We do everything we can to avoid misleading our students in any way.
I am concerned that the DHET is misinforming the public about:
1) DHET registration requirements, and
2) The legality of unaccredited programmes.
I use the word ‘misinformation’ quite specifically as it is my opinion that the DHET is providing, inter alia:
- Contradictory information, and
- Factually incorrect information,and
- Insufficient information.
This misinformation is highly damaging to those private Colleges that really care about their students and who do everything in their power to distance themselves from the practices of ‘unscrupulous’ and ‘illegal’ providers.
I would welcome the comments and feedback from the other members here.
27th Jan 2014 at 7:42 am #5683
Hello Sonia, I am not sure why your impressions appear In the Skills Universe only now, because we actually discussed the issue of registering private learning institutions last year already. Nevertheless, I fully agree with what you wrote and am delighted to see that there are some private providers, like your company, who do seem to strive towards offering quality learning.
Your remark that “It is difficult to think that the DHET sees private FET providers in a less that favourable lights” is, in my opinion, correct. I am currently studying The White Paper for Post –school Education and Training and will post my notes on this once I’ve read everything. For the time being it is my impression that the Minister is still targeting private learning institutions when he refers to REGISTERED private learning institutions when he knows very well that private learning institutions offering occupational learning have been asked by his Department not to register, or to voluntarily waive their registration if they are registered.
I strongly feel that this is an issue that the APPETD should take up with the Minister. I might be mistaken, but from what I saw last year the APPETD is working so hard at becoming a private provider of certain ETD services (like becoming an AQP, developing quality assurance instruments for the QCTO, etc.) that they are actually missing their mandate.
Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet
27th Jan 2014 at 8:14 am #5682
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