After a long wait (made longer by ineptitude – not ours – and people apparently forgetting to let us know), we have received the very good and expected news of being accredited with ETDPSETA, the South African Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA)for Education, Training and Development Practices. There are SETAS for tourism, services (cleaning and call centres, for example), construction, and other sectors of learning and industry.
As old hands at accreditation matters (we received full accreditation at first try for a previous tourism training concern) we knew what many language schools in South Africa apparently don’t, namely that you have to approach the correct SETA for your sector of industry or commerce. If the SETA’s constituent function is cleaning and call centres, for example, you have no business approaching it for accreditation, or it giving it to you.
Once you’ve approached the SETA (in this case ETDPSETA) and indicated your desire to become accredited as an educational institution, a process of self-evaluation and preparation begins. Each SETA has organisational requirements that a constituent provider must meet in order to become accredited. This lengthy and rather taxing process assures agents and students alike that your school is solid, has shown financial responsibility, and has a minimum level of services to offer. Quality Assurance is of the utmost importance. SETA requirements include submitting your learner management programmes, staff management programmes, assessment and moderation practices and policies, health and safety measures, off-site learning management programmes, to name but a few.
At the same time as the organisational evaluation takes place, you submit the learning programmes that you wish to offer and seek approval and therefore accreditation for. These learning interventions will be based on Unit Standards, modules of learning encapsuled in manageable units, and found on the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) website. At InTouch our learning programmes are based on the generic Unit Standards dealing with reading, writing, listening and speaking in any language (X) and populated with appropriate English Language Learning material on the corresponding levels of the CEFR. Any other unit standards would simply not be language-learning related!
Care has to be taken when selecting a language school to know what accreditation they have, the accreditation number, the SETA, and the unit standards offered. (A list of the unit standards – lots of little numbers and letters – that we offer can be requested). Exactly how accredited is your language school of choice?
As a learner you can opt for accredited or non-accredited training, depending on your purpose for learning English, and whether you are sent by a company or government structure or you are doing it for personal development (or whatever your reasons may be). Following the accredited training path means you will be issued, once competent, with a South African government-approved certificate with the ETDPSETA and SAQA embossed logos, and your achievement will be recorded on the National Qualifications Framework. This certificate can be used for official purposes.
Because the SETAS now fall under the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa, where before they fell under the Department of Labour, we can expect SETA-accredited institutions to issue study visa support letters for longer study IN THE CASE OF ACCREDITED TRAINING BEING OPTED FOR. In order to prevent fraud and people entering the country illegally under the guise of language learning, this process has to be monitored closely, with monthly progress reports on individual students submitted – or similar commitment – to the Department of Home Affairs (if required)or an appointed body. The process should be transparent and open for inspection. We look forward to providing above-board, official and quality assured training options to students and agents and to contribute to the language learning scene in Cape Town by assisting other schools in the complicated accreditation process, in order for the industry to strengthen its course of continued improvement.