In the struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality the South African government underlines the importance of the development of human capital. This development is a key note in the strategic plans of the government and plays a central role in several strategic policy documents, such as: the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (2006-2014), the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) and the National Skills Development Strategy III (NSDSIII) (2011).
To provide a structural solution to both the lack of trained personnel on the labour market and to the large number of unemployed young people, the education sector invests heavily in the improvement of the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges. The institutional landscape of the FET Colleges is strongly in motion and has known important changes during these last few years.
Despite the efforts made, this sector faces huge challenges. FET Colleges are often regarded as ‘second choice schools’. This shows in the rather low number of students (in 2007 a mere 2.3 percent of all students attended FET Colleges). On top of that these schools have high drop-out and low completion rates. This is among other things due to the teachers’ inadequate basic (i.e. language and mathematics), pedagogical and methodological skills and limited technical (subject content) skills. Because of this the quality of the education at public FET Colleges is below standard. At macro as well as at meso and micro level there is a lack of effective and relevant systems and there is no wide range of further vocational training. Hence the continuing education of the teachers at these schools is limited.
Based on this context VVOB decided to start a programme that meets the above challenges in the FET Colleges. The programme wants to reinforce these teachers’ pedagogical, methodological and content-specific knowledge and skills.
The programme’s general intention is to improve the learning results of the students of the FET Colleges and to enhance their chances on the labour market. The programme’s specific goal then is to have teachers of the FET Colleges put into practice the improved pedagogical and subject specific education skills, thanks to better and additional continuing vocational trainings that meet the teachers’ professional development queries and needs. The formulation of the programme’s provisional results focuses on the partners:
- Result 1: SACE’s role as the promoter and coordinator of the FET Colleges teachers’ continuing vocational training has been reinforced.
- Result 2: a forum for the reinforcement of the FET Colleges staff’s knowledge and skills is functional and meets the professional development needs of its teachers.
- Result 3: the University of the Free State (School of Open Learning) offers trainings and education developed specifically to meet the professional development needs of the FET Colleges’ teachers.
For this purpose a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the South African Council for Educators (SACE). SACE is a semi-governmental institution that has the official mandate to coordinate and regulate the teachers’ educational counselling from a national level.
Based on poverty indicators, the number of FET Colleges, their quality and the already existing initiatives on the continuing vocational training of FET teachers, Free State was chosen as the province where the programme was to be initiated. In Free State a collaboration agreement has been signed with the University of the Free State, with the School of Open Learning to be exact.
There is also a trilateral agreement between VVOB, SACE and the University of the Free State.
VVOB supports the partners in attaining the provisional results by initiating and directing capacity reinforcing processes. At the level of Result 1 VVOB will support SACE with:
- initiating and conducting research on the FET Colleges subsector;
- designing and applying a system for approval of continuing vocational education activities;
- developing and applying a strong communication and lobbying strategy.
At the level of Result 2 VVOB will, in collaboration with the ETDP-SETA (Education, Training and Development Practices - Sector Education and Training Authority), support the FET Colleges in Free State in their development of quality plans for workplace skills development. VVOB supports the organisation of a yearly reflection seminar on the professional development in the FET Colleges subsector as well. Besides that VVOB will enable, direct and support provincial and regional learning communities around professional development for teachers at FET Colleges.
At the level of Result 3 VVOB will support the University of the Free State with:
- developing a study programme with different modules;
- developing a bachelor for vocational education;
- and developing four short training programmes for teachers of FET Colleges.