Report on visit to Institutions of Higher Learning: deliberation and adoption

Basic Education

12 November 2001
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Meeting report

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 November 2001
REPORT ON VISIT TO INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING: DELIBERATION AND ADOPTION


Chairperson: Professor S M Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Committee Report
Document on Implementation of National Qualifications Framework Study Team (see Appendix)

SUMMARY

The Committee met to discuss and adopt a report about a visit to institutes of higher learning. All twelve recommendations were adopted except for two, which were amended before being adopted. The report concluded that there was stability at the institutions visited and that there was progress being made in terms of transformation. The role of the National Research Foundation was highlighted.

MINUTES
Members had received a 61-page document and out of the comments and suggestions, made a new version has been put together. The purpose of the meeting therefore was to discuss and adopt the document. The part that would be binding to all is the recommendations.

The Recommendations made by the Report, which would be binding on all, are as follows.

-In keeping with the objectives of rendering schools centres of excellence these institutions must look at the possibility of placing greater funding and resources in each of the specialties towards which they seem to be moving. For example, the Peninsula Technikon is moving in the direction of digital technology in engineering - it should specialise and make this their priority with advanced courses being offered so that they can produce not only computer operators but also software and hardware.

Professor Ripinga (ANC) pointed out that the sentence should end with 'technologists'. Mr Kgwele (ANC) who suggested that it could either be 'technologists' or 'technicians' but cannot end as 'software and hardware' supported this.

-In order to protect the valuable work kept in the Resource Centre at the University of Fort Hare it would be microfilmed and digitized.

-The funding formula for universities should be reviewed; current enrolment should be used as yardstick and not the enrolment of two years ago. Provision should also be made in the formula for financial assistance for the needy students.

-The Department of Education should use the formula for funding the institutions of higher learning with the aim to find ways of redressing the neglect of the previously disadvantaged institutions and empowering them to fulfill their missions.

-Special financial assistance to Unitra is of essence in order to upgrade the medical faculty.

-The Department of Education should substantially increase the National Research Foundation's budget so as to accommodate more students in this programme so as to open the doors for higher learning to most learners.

-Whilst students from SADC countries are not eligible for NRF funds, a clear policy to assist them should be developed.

-The University of the North needs to open a mining engineering department or faculty in view of the fact that the whole of the Northern Province has mining potential that is not fully utilized.

-History as a discipline also needs to be prioritised in order to realise the authentic and correct history of our people in South Africa.

-African languages need to be revitalized at our institutions of higher learning.

-The NRF should facilitate research, including research by postgraduate students, at the historically disadvantaged institutions.

-The Potchefstroom University seemed to be seriously concerned with retaining its Christian value system that is a matter of institutional transformation that needs pertain attention.

The Chair asked what were they recommending here?

Mr M Kgwele (ANC) explained that the problem is exclusion and this recommendation was written in order to ensure that the university does not discriminate against other South Africans.

Ms P N Mnandi (ANC) added that when it comes to gender the university was still far behind.

Mr M Montsitsi (ANC) suggested that the recommendation should read as follows:

Special focus should be given to the University of Potchefstroom is respect of the following:
-Language
-Gender
-Religion
-Representivity;
in order to speed the process of transformation in the University.

Most Members supported this draft.

Concluding remarks
The concluding remarks were as follows. The Committee observed general stability at the institutions visited. There is cooperation between the stakeholders. Most seem to be making significant strides in keeping up with the transformation policies. All agreed that the NRF is playing a big role in facilitating many students from poor background in accessing institutions of higher learning.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix:
Ministry of Education/Ministry of Labour

STUDY TEAM ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK (NQF)

Briefing Meeting with Chairpersons and Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Education and Labour

Room S35, Parliament Monday, 12 November 2001, at 14:30

Ministry of Education/Ministry of Labour

STUDY TEAM ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK (NQF)

Members
Dr Jairam Reddy, Chairperson
Consultant; Chairperson, Council of the United Nations University; former Vice-Chancellor, University of Durban-Westville; former Chairperson, National Commission on Higher Education

Dr Mokubung Nkomo
Executive Director, Group: Education and Training, HSRC; Chairperson, SAQA; Chairperson, SAFCERT

Dr Andre Dippenaar
Senior Education Adviser, Chamber of Mines; Senior Education Adviser, Business South Africa; Co-Chair, National Skills Authority;

Ms Busisiwe Mncube
Gauteng Provincial Education Convenor, COSATU; Co-Chair, National Skills Authority

Mr Brian O'Connell
Rector, University of the Western Cape; former Superintendent-General, Western Cape Education Department; Chairperson of the Board, National Access Consortium Western Cape

Professor Ben Parker
Professor of Ethics, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg; former Director: Teacher Education, Department of Education

Dr Mwenzi Mthwecu
Executive Officer, Mining Qualifications Authority

Mr Ron Tuck
Consultant; former CEO, Scottish Qualifications Authority

Professor Michael Young
Professor of Education, Institute of Education University of London; former Head, Post-16 Education Centre, ULIE; former Consultant, CEPD

Ms Ruth Moorhouse
Director, Student Services Group, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; former senior officer, New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Research team
Dr Trevor Coombe, Head,
Consultant, Department of Education; former DDG: Systems and Planning, Department of Education

Ms Nazeema Mohamed
Consultant; former Director: Higher Education Policy and Development Support, Department of Education

Mr Mareka Monyokolo
Consultant; former Deputy Director, Gauteng Institute for Curriculum Development

Ministers of Education and Labour

Terms of reference for a focused study of the development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

26 January 2001

1. This memorandum outlines the Ministers of Education and Labour's approach on the focused study of the development of the NQF. It includes an outline of the purpose and terms of reference for the study.

Background
2. Establishing the NQF is the joint responsibility of the Ministers of Education and Labour. The Ministers jointly supported the establishment of the South African Qualifications Authority by an Act of Parliament. They therefore have joint responsibility for examining, shaping and reporting on progress that is being made with developing the NQF.

3. The establishment of a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) - that links one level of learning to another without restrictions and links the traditional domains of education to training - and the overall improvement of the quality of education provision are critical for our learning revolution and our country's post-apartheid socio-economic reconstruction and development.

4. As a consequence of the importance of the NQF to our learning revolution and our post-apartheid socio-economic reconstruction and development, the first post-apartheid education legislation passed by the National Assembly was the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995.

5. The law provided for the establishment of the South African Qualifications Authority and enabled the establishment of national standards bodies to register all qualifications consistent with the goals of the NQF and the accreditation of quality assurance bodies that would assure the credits and qualifications offered by providers and record the credits and qualifications accumulated by learners on a national learner record database.

6. The putting in place of a second Board that reflects both continuity and change with the previous one coupled with the establishment of the SAQA executive office represents significant achievements. The completion of the regulatory framework for the setting of national standards and the accreditation of quality assurance bodies represent further progress. In this regard, the establishment of the regulatory framework has been succeeded by the establishment of standards and quality assurance bodies that in turn are suggesting that the regulatory framework require further improvement. Notably, the interim arrangements for the registration and quality assurance of private providers have suggested further attention should be paid to the complexity and elaborate nature of the processes and systems that are in place now.

7. Even more significantly, two achievements can be noted. First, five years after the promulgation of the SAQA Act outcomes based education is now deeply entrenched in our education and training discourses, our thinking and our planning. Virtually every public and private provider of education and training in South African has now written their programmes and qualifications in an outcomes-based format. And, most public and private providers now ask themselves, what is the purpose of our qualifications and how do these relate to each other. This is most significant since outcomes based education is our response to the separation of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes in learning that has traditionally occurred in schools, higher education, technical-vocational education, workplaces and local communities. And this matter is not only limited to education and training, but an outcomes based approach has now penetrated thinking about performance and improvement in organisational development, and in management and leadership across all social, cultural and economic domains.

8. A second significant achievement is the firm trenching of quality and quality assurance, and hence the important role of quality assurance bodies in our post-apartheid education and training reconstruction and development programme. While we remain concerned about quality and quality assurance within private education, as reflected in the enormous amount of resources we are investing in registration procedures, this discussion also frames our approach to our investments in the public sectors.

9. From the side of government, both the Departments of Education and Labour have made important moves on the implementation with the NQF as reflected in our polices, legislation and implementation plans for these in general, further and higher education, and in workplace and other labour market related education and training. Refer the National Education Policy Act of T996, the Further Education and Training Act of 1998, the Higher Education and Training Act of 1997, the ABET Act of 2000, and their associated policy papers. Refer also the Skills Development Act of 1998, the Skills Development Levies Act of 1999 and the Skills Development Strategy of 2000. But these moves have not only been limited to these two departments. Other departments, notably Public Service and Administration, Mineral and Energy Affairs and Provincial Affairs and Local Government have also made significant strides in trenching the NQF within their polices, laws and programmes.

10. These achievements should be recognised and celebrated. However, we cannot remain focused only on the elegant language of our regulatory frameworks, and the text of programmes and qualifications. We must face up to the challenges that have now been thrown up by the implementation of our regulatory frameworks. The questions that arise are what are the next steps to be taken in implementing the NQF, and what should be done to achieve this. This will require that the systems and processes that have thus far been developed to facilitate implementation require studying, analysis and strategy to improve and hone implementation and to remove any blockages and obstacles standing in our way. To illustrate with regards to higher education, what future steps should be taken to facilitate articulation, RPL and real access for mature non-traditional learner populations while raising quality? And, what are the emerging local and international best and hindering practices in this regard? It is for these reasons that we have to continuously study, analyse and develop new strategies to facilitate our progress.

The rationale for a focused study of the development of the NQF
11. Under the Mbeki Presidency government's emphasis has shifted critically to accelerated, targeted and high profile service delivery with its goal of poverty alleviation. This government-wide shift necessitates a review of the progress that the Ministers of Education and Labour are making with the establishment of the NQF. In other words, how is the NQF being developed, and what actions might the Ministers jointly undertake to support the focusing, acceleration and strengthening of its implementation.

12. The Ministers of Education and Labour are committed to ensuring that the terms of reference of the study are clear and are communicated effectively so as to ensure that the study demonstrates our commitment to the building of the NQF. It is clearly not a study aimed at reviewing our goals and policies, but a study of how the NQF is developing and how we can focus, accelerate and strengthen its implementation.

13. The study team shall comprise of the chairperson of SAQA, experts and practitioners from key social partners within the education, training and economic sectors, international experts and local researchers. They shall be appointed for a period of four months beginning February 2001 and ending on 3 1 May 2001 to study how the NQF is developing and how the collective efforts of all social partners can be better channelled to accomplish its focused, accelerated and strengthened implementation.

14. The study team shall hold at appropriate moments high-level consultations with the Parliamentary Education and Labour Portfolio Committees and the Departments of Education and Labour

15. Members of the study team shall conduct the focused study on the development of the NQF in an informal but rigorous manner.

16. The high level study shall focus in particular on the following matters:

· Relevant and contemporary international developments on national qualifications frameworks with reference to policies, regulatory frameworks and implementation procedures and their implications for our NQF practice and future directions.
· The match between policy objectives and outcomes (as outlined in relevant policies and legislation) and the experiences and attitudes of education and training providers and learners with the implementation of the NQF and how these can be streamlined.
· The extent to which the South African Qualifications Authority has put in place the appropriate and relevant policies, procedures, delivery systems, other resources and capacities essential for the establishment of the NQF and for implementing the relevant mandates of the Ministers of Education and Labour on education and training, and how these can be improved. The study should examine and advise in particular on how to address the concerns among some key social partners and stakeholders about an apparent proliferation of bodies and procedures and an apparent fragmentation of roles and responsibilities in the areas of quality assurance and national standards development.
· Any other obstacles, real or perceived to streamlining the implementation of the NQF.

Critical Issues Identified by the Study Team

1. The wider context in which SAQA operates and the NQF is implemented
· the international experience of qualifications systems
· the role of the NQF in the transformation of South Africa's education and training systems
· the role of the NQF in relation to the national HRD strategy and national strategies and plans for higher education and FET
· current government policy on the integrated approach to education and training
· goals and priorities set by SAQA for the NQF
· the responsibilities of the parent Ministries of Labour & Education toward SAQA and the NQF
· the legislative framework for NQF implementation

2. Structural issues
· roles of experts and stakeholders in NQF operations
· the composition and role of the Authority
· centralised vs decentralised models of NQF implementation
· the effectiveness of the SGB/NSB/ETQA architecture for standards setting and quality assurance
· role definition and modus operandi of band ETQAs (HEQC and GENFETQA) vis a vis other ETQAs

3. Qualifications and programme issues
· the number of levels and level descriptors in the NQF
· relationship of outcomes based education, unit standards and whole qualifications
· implementation of the recognition of prior learning (RPL)
development of curricula vis a vis standards and qualifications

4. Financial and human resources
· financial requirements, sources of funding and budget process for SAQA and sub-structures
capacity requirements and development for SAQA and NQF implementation

November 2001

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