SA’s vocational programmes problems

2014-11-23 06:00

South Africa’s vocational programmes are in trouble, with many duplicating each other.

This is the finding of the review of South Africa’s vocational programmes released this week at the Technical and Vocational Education and Training conference in Midrand.

The review, conducted by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), at the request of the Department of Higher Education and Training, criticised the “fragmented approach” to some vocational programmes, especially at high school level.

The programmmes in question include the:

» National Certificate Vocational, NC(V) level: 1-4,

» NATED programmes (N1 to N6),

» Technical high schools, learnerships, apprenticeships and occupational qualifications.

To be admitted to NC(V) level 1, a Grade 9 pass is needed. To progress to level 4, which is equivalent to matric, takes three more years.

However, the report found that:

» There is no difference between a NC(V) level 4 certificate, a National Senior Certificate obtained at a technical high school and the N3 certificate.

» Parts of the NC(V) and N 1-3 programmes offered in college are similar to some aspects of the curriculum offered at grades 10, 11 and 12, and technical programmes offered in over 1000 technical high schools.

» These overlaps and duplications are causing many to argue that this complex history and fragmentation of competing qualifications has rendered the whole vocational sector confusing and therefore unpopular.

The report has recommended that secondary school vocational programmes should all be consolidated and merged into into two main streams – a school-based stream and a work-based stream.

“The school-based route will include a mandatory element of work-based learning – on the principle that all vocational programmes should do so – but this would be a much smaller element of the programme than in the case of the work-based route,” said the report.

On the contrary, the work-based route would involve a substantial element of work-based learning, involving employers and pursued in partnership with colleges, said the report.

“These two clearly defined vocational tracks at the upper secondary level would strengthen employer engagement and to measures to improve quality and increase completion rates.”

The report strongly encouraged authorities to consider developing post-secondary vocational programmes for young adults, the so-called Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

“If the South African system is to seriously address the challenge of the 3.4 million Neet young people, it has to offer meaningful routes to careers for young adults who have left school with poor skills and few qualification”.

About one third of the NEETs, said the report, have passed matric but colleges in their current form are not attractive to them.

“Currently quite a lot of students with matriculation but with poor results enter colleges as a kind of second best to university. This group would be better served by short post-secondary vocational programmes, like a higher certificate”.

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