Cover Image
close this bookEstablishing Partnership in Technical and Vocational Education - Co-operation between Educational Institutions and Enterprises in Technical and Vocational Education - A Seminar for Key Personnel from Africa and Asia - Berlin, Germany, 02-12 May 1995 (UNEVOC, 1995, 168 p.)
close this folder2 Co-operation between Educational Institutions and Enterprises in Technical and Vocational Education: African Experiences
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.1 Abstracts of Participants' Presentations
View the document2.2 South Africa: The National Training Strategy Initiative
View the document2.3 South Africa: The ESKOM Approach
View the document2.4 Nigeria: The Perspective of an Educational Institution
View the document2.5 Nigeria: The Perspective of an Employer
View the document2.6 Uganda: Co-operation Links
View the document2.7 Uganda: The Realities of Co-operation - Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo
View the document2.8 Uganda: Pilot Project on Co-operation
View the document2.9 Swaziland: Co-operation
View the document2.10 Swaziland: Connecting Schools and Enterprises - A Model for Secondary Vocational Education
View the document2.11 Swaziland: Enhancing Co-operation
View the document2.12 Kenya: Co-operation in Technical and Vocational Education

2.2 South Africa: The National Training Strategy Initiative


Dr Ray EBERLEIN, burn in 1939, is the Chairperson of the National Training Board of South Africa. He retired from the South African Navy as a Rear-admiral, after more than 35 years of service. He is a specialist in the human resources field, a registered Personnel Practitioner and a Fellow of the Institute of Personnel Management (SA).

(1) Introduction

In April 1994 the National Training Board published for comment a discussion document entitled "A National Training Initiative" (NTSI). This was the product of a representative Task Team made up of selected members of the National Training Board, and those drawn from the four main stakeholder organisations; the employers, the employee organisations, the State and the providers of education and training.

The national training strategy proposed in the report was the first major multi-party attempt to raise the profile of training issues, emphasise the centrality of training to the reconstruction of South Africa, and propose an integrated approach to education and training in the future.

Since its publication a great deal of effort has gone into consultation and discussion of the report and its recommendations, and into implementation studies.

A great deal of support for the recommendations of the report was received from all stakeholders. This article attempts to present the key elements of the report and the progress made in implementation of the recommendations.

(2) The Importance of Process

In the South Africa of today, the manner in which an objective is striven for is often more important than its actual achievement. The importance of the process by which an objective is achieved to the acceptance of the achievement cannot be over-emphasised. In terms of management style, process demands that a new Africa-style management be utilised in striving to achieve. The application of this new style requires that all the stakeholders together identify the problem to be solved, propose solutions together, and strive for their achievement, in the same way as was done in the development of the NTSI.

(3) Vision

At the outset the Task Team realised that a traditional approach to training would do little more than perpetuate past problems. The starting point for the activities of the Task Team was the vision, which is of:

"a human resources development system in which there is an integrated approach to education and training which meets the economic and social needs of the country and the development needs of the individual".

This vision requires several paradigm shifts in thinking about education and training as separate entities to thinking about learning as a lifelong, changing process aimed at meeting specific needs.

(4) Principles

The Task Team developed a series of 12 principles which were used continually during the development of the national training strategy to assess conformation with the mission and its elements. While the principles listed refer to both education and training, the Task Team's activities concentrated on their interpretation in the context of training. The six key principles to underpin the report's recommendations are as follows:


Education and training should form part of a system of human resources development which provides for the establishment of an integrated approach to education and training.


Should be expressed in terms of a nationally agreed framework and internationally accepted outcomes.


Should provide for learners, on successful completion of accredited prerequisites, to move between components of the delivery system.


Should provide for learners to transfer their credits or qualifications from one learning institution and/or employer to another.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Should, through assessment, give credit to prior learning.

Guidance of Learners

Should provide for the guidance of learners by persons who meet nationally recognised standards for educators and trainers.

(5) International and National Research

(5.1) Foreign Countries

A survey was made of education and training systems in eight countries in order to monitor the performance of their systems and identify those principles and practices which had proved to be successful. The countries researched were Australia, Brazil, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

Although no education and training systems are considered transferable in their entirety, certain aspects are, and merit further consideration and research.

(5.2) South Africa

South Africa, including the homelands, currently (April 1994) has fifteen Ministries of Education and nineteen Departments of Education. Although current expenditure is over R 20.4 billion per year, which is equivalent to other countries at similar stages of development, the education system suffers from numerous problems.

Regarding training institutions, the bodies responsible for training in South Africa are:

· the Department of Manpower,
· the National Training Board with 24 members,
· nine autonomous regional training centres with 62 satellite campuses and 65 mobile centres,
· 1417 private training centres and training centres established by employers and
· 26 industry training boards, mostly with predominantly employer representation.

There is little articulation between these components of the training system and there is no single certification body.

Accepting the fact that the fiscus cannot provide more funds for education and training at this junction; that a huge imbalance exists between the amounts spent by the State on education and on training (R 3.1 billion versus R 300 million); that the private sector spends approximately R 3.5 billion on training, one must still deduce that South Africa's total spending on training is less than 1 % of total employment costs. This 1 % compares badly with the 5 % spent by South Africa's major trading partners.

In terms of its ability to provide qualified personnel, the education and training system performs poorly with two-thirds of the work-force illiterate and nearly 10 % of the population with no education at all.

Figure 1 Essential Elements of a National Training Strategy

(6) A Proposed National Training Strategy

Figure 1 depicts the essential elements of the strategy. These are needed to implement the strategy.

The starting point, the nucleus of the strategy, is a National Qualification Framework specifying learning in terms of nationally and internationally accepted outcomes.

The National Qualification Framework creates the need for a structure for Governance to champion the achievement of the objectives of the strategy.

All of this is based on defined Financial and Incentive Plans enhancing productivity and investment in credible and appropriate education and training, within the ambit of a Legal Framework, and supported by the necessary National Research and Development and Database.

The figure shows the necessary elements providing the environment within which the National Training Strategy is implemented, the National Human Resources and Economic Development Plans devised by the appropriate multipartite forums and State bodies, from which are derived:

· a Strategy to create the supportive involvement of education, and

· a series of National Development Targets.

(7) National Qualification Framework

A national qualification framework (NQF) would be based on a system of credits for learning outcomes achieved. A learning outcome is essentially a capability developed in the learner reflecting an integration of knowledge and skill which can be understood, applied and transferred to different contexts. Qualifications might be achieved by full time, part time or distance learning, by work-based learning or by a combination of these together with the assessment of prior learning and experience.

Figure 2 A National Qualification Framework

Levels: 5-8 Non-Compulsory

Tertiary & Research


Higher Degrees

Initial Degrees

National and Higher Diploma

Professional Employment

Levels: 2-4 Non-Compulsory
to Higher National Certificates

Core and Applied
Generic and Options

Senior Secondary Schools

Technical Colleges & Community Colleges

Private Providers & NGOs

Industry Training

Labour RTC's Market Schemes

Level 1:
Compulsory Schooling

ABE & Training: Level 1

General Certificate of
Education GCE

General Certificate of Education

9/10 years

Grade 9/10

Level 1

7 years

Grade 7

Sub-level C

5 years

Grade 5

Sub-level B

3 years

Grade 3

Sub-level BA


The proposed framework illustrated in Figure 2 has eight levels and incorporates education and training in the same framework. The proposal has since been accepted and is presently being incorporated in legislation by the national Department of Education.

(8) Structures for Governance

The governance structure originally suggested included the following (Figure 3):

Ministry of Education and Training

A single integrated Ministry of Education and Training headed by a Minister accountable to Parliament.

National Council for Learning (NCL) and Representative Councils

A National Council for Learning representative of the key stakeholders, to formulate national policy on education and training for submission to the Minister and/or Parliament or to such other policy forums as may be agreed upon for decision and approval. It should contain representation from and be represented on the National Manpower Commission and the National Economic Forum or their successor bodies.

Figure 3 Suggested Structure for Governance

Statutory Councils

Statutory Councils representative of specific sectors of education and training, subordinate to the NCL, to advise on, develop and monitor the implementation of specific policy guidelines for the four sectors:

· Educare Council (EC)
· National Education Council (NEC) covering compulsory schooling
· National Education and Training Council (NETC)
· National Tertiary Council (NTC).

National and Regional Departments of Education and Training

A single body, the National Department of Education and Training, to carry out functions allocated to it by the Minister and by relevant legislation, within the context of the constitution. At regional level executive departments of education and training, supported by representative committees similar to the Representative Councils established at national level.

South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

A national accreditation and certification authority, a statutory body with jurisdiction extending over the four sectors of education and training to enable them to set up a coherent, integrated system of assessment, accreditation and registration for all national qualifications offered in South Africa.

Sector Education and Training Organisations (SETO's)

Sector Education and Training Organisations are essentially representative service-, commerce- and industry-based education and training organisations responsible for identifying and specifying development and ensuring the achievement of the desired level of education and training by personnel in the specific sector. It is envisaged that, through a process of negotiation and evolution, the present Industry Training Boards would change their structure and role, and that a change of name to Sector Education and Training Organisation would signify these and other changes needed.

Providers of Education and Training

Education and training programmes in the non-compulsory, pre-tertiary sector are presently provided by a wide range of organisations, such as:

· secondary schools
· technical colleges
· non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
· regional training centres
· private colleges and training centres
· private companies
· industry training centres.

The governance structures emerging after further consultation include a single national Ministry of Education responsible for policy and standards for education and training; a Ministry of Labour responsible for labour market training, and a multipartite Inter-ministerial Working Committee creating the essential links for consultation between the two ministries. At provincial level, Education and Training Forums provide the links in a manner similar to the Inter-ministerial committee at national level. In addition the SAQA is in the process of being formed, together with its subordinate National Standards Bodies and Education Training Qualification Authorities (ETQA's). Restructured Industry Education and Training Boards are taking the place of the SETO's in a process of rationalisation of the former, and similar bodies are being formed in the public service.

(9) Developing Credible Outcomes of Education and Training

The key to the acceptability of education and training lies in providing credible end results, or outcomes. Achieving this lies in the effective use of the National Qualification Framework as a basis for the accreditation of units and modules of learning and of the providers. The developing ETQA's will perform this role.

(10) The Education, Training Development Practitioner

The term "trainer" is usually associated with training offered by industry and commerce. The inclusion of Adult Basic Education (ABE) and community development into the training function makes it necessary to develop a new kind of trainer to meet the specific demands in South Africa. In addition, the inclusion of teachers in technical schools, technical colleges and technikons joins three traditionally separated sites of training together and begins to dissolve the distinctions between the provisioning of formal and non-formal training. An inclusive term, namely "Education, Training and Development Practitioner" (ETD Practitioner), was adopted in lieu of "trainer" to depict the notion of integration, while at the same time recognising the differences which still exist.

The proposed model (Figure 4) for the development of practitioners makes provision for a compulsory core to build occupational expertise, contextual understanding and facilitation of learning, as well as for further ETD Practitioner role specialisation. It provides, in addition, for career progression through a combination of options, and could be equally applicable to teachers in schools. The model has been accepted, and implementation research is under way using international expertise and funding.

Figure 4 The Practitioner Development Model

(11) Adult Basic Education

Millions of adult South Africans have received no education at all and for millions more the little formal education they have received has been of low quality. In keeping with the overall thrust of the proposed national training strategy, the Task Team proposes to tackle this problem by improving access to learning by greatly increasing the resources devoted to Adult Basic Education (ABE), by addressing the quality of learning and by integrating ABE into the National Qualification Framework. Adult Basic Education is the basic phase in the provision of life-long learning, consisting of levels along a continuum of learning aimed at adults with very little or no formal schooling, not having the equivalent of a compulsory school leaving certificate. The final exit point from Adult Basic Education should be equivalent to the exit point from compulsory education.

There are three current providers of ABE in South Africa: the private sector, NGOs and the State. The Task Team's research indicates that the private sector is currently providing about 100,000 adults with ABE classes, NGOs are reaching some 10,000 learners per year and the State, through a complex network of adult education centres and departmental projects, is reaching some 110,000 ABE learners per year. The expenditure, some R200 million per year, comes from the private sector.

Only 1 % of adults who may need ABE classes are presently taking them. The key to a more effective system in future lies in the development of a policy framework to enable a step-by-step transition from the present small-scale inefficient provision of ABE to large-scale effective and coherent provision of ABE.

South Africa does not have the capacity to provide ABE to 12½ million people at the same time. A set of priorities should therefore be developed in order to begin to tackle the problem. The national Department of Education has appointed a National Adult Basic Education and Training Committee to determine a strategy and an implementation plan.

(12) Finance and Incentives

The proposed national qualification framework, government structures, the provision of education and training, all require funding. There are essentially three available sources of funding, namely public, donor and private. In order to make the best possible use of funds it is necessary to:

· create an optimum balance in the mixture of public, donor and private funding;
· seek stability in the balance and attempt to sustain it in the long term, and
· provide incentives to encourage and sustain financial investment in education and training.

To improve investment in education and training it was felt necessary that funds, especially public funds, be more effectively allocated and that increased investment by the private sector be encouraged by entering negotiated agreements. Turning to donor investments, it was considered necessary that such funds be used to support the priorities for socio-economic development, and that they should in future also meet the requirements of the National Qualification Framework.

Research into the development of a Funding Mechanism is presently being conducted, using international expertise and funding.

(13) Labour Market Strategy

A new labour market strategy for South Africa is properly the responsibility of the National Manpower Commission, or its successor, and the appropriate State department. However, there is such a strong relationship between a future labour market strategy and the proposed national training strategy that the Task Team considered it necessary to make an input in this regard.

The Task Team recommends that the following aspects, inter alia, should be addressed by a national labour market strategy:

· Learning and Skills Culture
· Development of the Micro-Enterprise Sector
· Development Programmes for the Unemployed
· Development Programmes for Displaced or Retrenched Persons
· Development of the School-leaver
· Access to Practical Skills Development
· Development of Apprentices in Small Business
· Affirmative Action
· Career Guidance and Placement

The development of a labour market strategy forms part of the remit of the recently appointed Comprehensive Labour Market Commission, and implementation studies covering the skills culture, the training of the unemployed, pre-employment training and the revision of the apprentice training scheme will shortly commence, supported by international expertise and finance.

(14) Rewarding Performance

In overseas countries with successful education and training systems, reward systems are taken seriously. South Africa's performance in this regard was compared with that of Singapore, South Korea and Australia.

Analysis identified a number of key issues which appear to be preventing the formation of a national skills culture in South Africa.

(15) Information Database System

Although the process of developing the proposed national training strategy led to the Task Team accumulating large quantities of information, the Task Team was frequently handicapped by the non-availability of certain kinds of information and statistics and the absence of a national database related to education and training.

The National Training Board, the Task Team, Central Statistical Services, the various Departments of Education, the University of Cape Town, the Human Sciences Research Council, and others, have perceived the need for education and training related databases and have compiled significant amounts of information. But none of these institutions on their own is able to satisfy the need for a comprehensive database.

It was recommended that a project be commenced in conjunction with other interested stakeholders to develop a suitable "Education and Training Information System" for the management of the National Training Strategy and that this become part of the functioning of the proposed National Education and Training Council. The recommendation has been accepted, and an implementation proposal in this regard is presently being formulated.

(16) South African Education and Training Legislation

Extracts from some 130 different statutes were included in the report, which found that more than 200 different institutions, councils, committees, boards and other bodies which had been established by legislation exercised powers regarding the education and training process. Many of the statutes referred to in the report are exclusively, or primarily, concerned with the provision of education and training. Others are essentially concerned with other issues, but do contain enabling provisions regarding the education or training of some or other categories of persons. These were included in the understanding that the Task Team was seeking to establish an all embracing national framework, guaranteeing portability of skills and national standards applicable to all sectors.

It is recommended that, once implementation of a National Training Strategy begins, the statutes be reviewed, revised, and if necessary, rewritten to meet the needs of the strategy.

(17) Implementation Research

A great deal of progress has been made since the publication of the report, largely due to the application of process in its development and a planned programme of advocacy. In addition to those aspects mentioned in the body of this article a consolidated programme of implementation research has been embarked upon. Figure 5 depicts the areas in which work is being carried out in conjunction with international expertise.

Figure 5 NTSI - Implementation Research

These include:

· Pilot Projects for the development of the NQF in specified areas;

· a project on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL);

· the development of the Education Training Development (ETD) Practitioner;

· the development of governance structures for the integrated approach to education and training, and for the programme management of the NTSI;

· the execution of a national skills audit in terms of the NQF;

· the development of a funding mechanism;

· the development of an active labour market strategy, and

· several cross-cutting projects, such as the development of a skills culture, revision of the apprentice system, pre-employment and unemployment training.

(18) Conclusion

In conclusion, the National Training Strategy Initiative is alive and well, its implementation is gaining momentum and is being driven by all the stakeholders with organised business and labour well to the fore.