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EDUCATION
Towards World Class Quality in African Education and Training

Published: 14-JAN-05

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. One cannot apply a quality management system to only one aspect of a system or organisation.

If one part of the system does not deliver quality service, it has a knock-on effect on the whole system. Where does one begin? Listen to Voltaire’s Candide and start by cultivating your own garden. Whether you are an educational institution, a quality assurance body or the ministry in charge of education and training, you should start with your own quality management system.

The first steps

The Assessment College started cultivating its own garden two years ago by becoming an ISO 9001:2000 listed organisation. ISO (the International Standards Organisation) is a worldwide body that oversees standards, and audits operating procedures for organisations throughout the world. The Assessment College was also the first South African provider to apply for and get accreditation, as a provider of certain focused types of training, from the South Africa’s recently created Education and Training Sector Authority.

Helping others take their first steps

To help other small business providers enter the system, the Assessment College started taking them on as licensees. Today there are 41 well-qualified and experienced licensees of the Assessment College in South Africa. These licensees have become an invaluable resource used by the College to promote quality in education and training across a broad range of clients. Assessment College clients include industry sector authorities, professional bodies, large corporations, other providers, NGOs, government departments and individuals trained as assessors and moderators.

The broader picture

In “Let’s educate the Continent” (Business in Africa, November 2004), the objectives of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) were spelled out. One of these objectives is to enhance the quality of education and training. SAQA set up a comprehensive system to monitor and audit quality in training. It accredited a number of bodies using rigorous criteria to become professions and occupations. Some of these bodies (like the nursing and accounting bodies) were professional bodies and some were industry sector bodies called Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). The Assessment College started rendering services to some of these quality bodies on a volunteer basis. These tasks included serving on the SAQA Board, advising the South African Board of Personnel Practices and serving on qualification generating bodies. It soon became clear that the insight and experience gained through this kind of work were worth their weight in gold.

Services to quality assurance bodies

At present some of the services rendered by the Assessment College to quality assurance bodies are:

• the facilitation and documentation of policy and procedures for education and training

• setting up assessment and moderation systems

• setting up recognition of prior learning systems

• monitoring and verifying providers of education and training

• setting up and maintaining accreditation systems for providers

• training assessors, moderators and verifiers

• generating standards and qualifications

• doing impact studies, and

• evaluating education and training projects.

What do you need to set up a sound quality system?

One of the lessons learnt in South Africa is that even the authorities set up by the ministry should function within a quality system. In fact, the entire education system must become a quality management system for the education, training and development of the citizens of a country. For the system to function properly, it needs to be transparent to all participants. You need to have proper policies, procedures and processes in place, together with all the necessary forms and documents. If judgements have to be made, criteria for evaluating and assessing organisations and individuals must be spelled out clearly.

How can we help you?

Assessment College can help you set up a quality system, building in best practice lessons learnt all over the world. The College has the knowledge, experience, capacity and enthusiasm to assist your organisation. One of our objectives is always to empower our clients. We do not want clients that remain dependent on consultants; we want to create partners that can solve their own problems.

If you need assistance to set up a quality education and training system, call Marietta van Rooyen, Chair of Assessment College, at

+2711678 0126 or e-mail her at [email protected]





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