How do SETAs shift responsibility for administrative incompetence?

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    Harsh question you say – let me explain. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    The situation: learners embark on a Learning Programme (LP), where they will be assessed, leading to credits, a part or a qualification, that will be entered against their name on the National Learner Records Database (NLRD).

    So if a Sector Education & Training Authority (SETA) does not complete the administrative process (which may involve also involve another SETA), then according to the system, the learner is “behind schedule” – that process is incomplete.

    Using the terminology of “learner behind schedule” implies that either the learner, or the training provider, or the employer, or all of them have not done what that they needed to do.

    That may in fact be the true situation – any one of those parties may not have done what they were supposed to do – for a whole host of reasons.

    However, much more likely – from my experience, even probable – the learners have completed; the training provider has done what they were supposed to do to deliver the LP; but the employer has not submitted documentation.

    What documentation?
    Well there is the Statement of Results (SOR) of the final Summative Assessment Moderation and Verification, and there is the Certificate.

    Here’s where another SETA may come in. When a provider is training on a qualification, which is accredited under a different SETA to the one the employer is registered with.

    So the stages:
    1. Learners on LP not yet complete – behind schedule,
    2. Learners complete LP, but SOR not yet issued,
    3. Learners complete LP, SOR issued, but Certificate not yet issued.
    4. Learners complete LP. SOR issued, Certificate issued,
    5. Learners complete LP. SOR issued, Certificate issued, but employer not submitted to SETA,
    6. Learners complete LP. SOR issued, Certificate issued, employer submitted to SETA, but SETA not yet closed off on system, and paid final Tranche (if funded).

    So when a SETA reports to the Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET) as if everything is covered by 1. above, they are effectively hiding/disguising a range of circumstances where they are administratively involved. Noting here, that the employer, and employer SETA, may not be able to progress as a result of the administrative incompetence of another SETA.

    From my personal experience it will be one of the biggest SETAs responsible for the hold-up, which is why I am vehemently against uniting or combining SETAs.

    If you have read this far, you will wonder why I bother to document this. Well using the wrong terminology, i.e. “learners behind schedule”, disguises where the responsibility lies.
    ore importantly:
    * it hampers resolution of the issue by focusing attention in the wrong place, and
    * antagonises training providers and employers.

    What SETA has not concluded the process listed above? They are not named and brought to light. It appears that the learners, or the training provider, or the employer are somehow at fault.

    South Africans above all, know that words matter – what we call something or somebody – it matters.

    Now words and how we use them are referred to as “soft” issues. But what about the actual quantitative outcome.

    DHET are reporting on completed LPs. But they cannot be doing this accurately, if the SETAs are using the terminology “learners behind schedule”. 21 SETAs & a few dozen learners incorrectly categorised, and the DHET is thousands off the mark of what has been completed – and the NLRD is not going to be accurate.

    The SETAs are disguising their administrative incompetence – most particularly the issuing of Certificates, which has real world of work consequences for the learners.

    Please feel free to tell me if you disagree with anything I have said.

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    Bernard Botha


    Short answer to your heading: Years and years of prectice

    Thabisile Zikalala

    Good Day Sylvia

    To sum up what you have written, it is important to ascribe responsibility to the correct person, department and/or organisation. Not doing this has dire consequences for learners, first and foremost, followed by the DHET which has the duty to monitor everyone’s performance so that the country can plan accordingly in terms of skills shortages and allocation of funds and lastly the country and the economy.

    If I have summed it up correctly, I agree with you. From where I am sitting, this is just the beginning. The next step is to come up with a solution. How about:
    1. A central place where everyone indicates where they are in the process so that the correct person/department/organisation holding up the process is identifies
    2. Punitive measures be put in place for the delinquents based on the failure to perform. In other words, a different measure for different offenses including repeats.

    Awaiting comments.


    Dear Thabisile,
    Thank you so much. Yes I believe you have summed it up, and yes I believe it is important to all of us to develop a better way forward.

    I have one SETA CEO, who has offered to circulate to all the SETA CEOs, so they can engage with the concept.

    I do believe that you are correct, we need to identify very clearly:
    * what is the real issue?
    * who/at what SETA is responsible for it?
    * what is the plan to remedy the situation? and
    * what is the timescale to final remedy?

    Bearing in mind that there is money involved – the employer is being prejudiced:
    * not only by non-payment of Discretionary Grant final tranches, but also * delay in being able to claim their tax benefit from SARS without proof of completion.

    I am personally not keen on a punishment approach, because this requires people coming forward with the correct information – so that needs to be encouraged.

    Geraldine Schoeman

    Agree 100%. And, in my experience, even where it is clear that the SETA is responsible for the administrative incompetence they are still not held accountable. A very specific example: A national learnership programme, involving all provinces. All documentation iro all requirements are submitted AND the SETA official checks everything (about 4 hours worth). However, subsequently the SETA loses (I still have no idea how that could happen) ALL the files iro the learners from Limpopo. Despite ongoing efforts to have the issue sorted out, nothing is achieved. This literally includes pleas to the sector Minister to assist in sorting out the issue, absolutely zilch. In the end, the learners literally re-enrolled for the 12 month course (because they weren’t even allowed to submit Portfolios demonstrating prior learning. I’m afraid that some of the SETAs are a bit of an abomination.

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