Assessment and recommendations

The Community Education and Training system has the potential to fill an important gap in training provision in South Africa, especially for low-skilled job seekers and workers. Various actors, both private and public, already provide training opportunities, but provision is scattered and many adults in need of up-skilling or re-skilling do not participate in training. Increasing access to training can help tackling existing skills imbalances and contribute to lower unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Currently, Community Education and Training institutions mainly provide second chance primary and secondary education. However, to make the system more useful and accessible for adults, a wider range of programmes and services should be provided, in line with local needs. While second chance education should remain an important component of Community Education and Training, the offer should be extended to vocational and non-formal education and training programmes, as well as information and guidance services. At the same time, existing and new programmes need to be adapted to the specific needs of adult learners.

In order to provide a wider range of programmes and services, and to reach the objective of one million students in Community Education and Training by 2030, substantial investments is needed. Only a very small part of the public budget is currently allocated to the Community Education and Training system, and substantial increases are unlikely in the present economic climate and in view of the significant resources needed to support fee-free access to higher education for lower-income students. To secure sufficient funding for the further development of the Community Education and Training system, alternative sources need to be mobilised. The National Skills Fund should re-focus on training opportunities for vulnerable groups, and SETAs should spend the skills development levy funds more effectively. Stronger coordination with other stakeholders funding training, including provincial and municipal governments and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, are key in reaching the common goal of higher access to training.

For Community Education and Training to have a real impact, it should be responsive to the needs of the community. Institutions need to have sufficient flexibility to adapt the training offer and content to these needs. Strong coordination with local stakeholders is crucial to identify community needs, but also to develop partnerships with employers and other education and training providers. Staff in Community Education and Training institutions need to have easy access to existing information on community needs and need to develop the knowledge and skills to actively engage with stakeholders.

Finally, the potential impact of an expanded Community Education and Training system crucially depends on the quality of programmes and services provided. Quality assurance in the current system is very scattered because of the variety of programmes offered, and a more transparent system should be put in place to ensure that all training programmes comply with a minimum standard. At the same time, further investment in the skills of teachers, school leaders and support staff need to be made to ensure that they can carry out their tasks effectively.

Box 1. Key recommendations for Community Education and Training

Providing a diverse set of training programmes and services

Basic skills programmes and second chance lower and upper secondary education

  • Design a basic skills programme to be delivered in Community Education and Training (CET) institutions, building on insights and materials from the Kha Ri Gude campaign.

  • Develop learning materials for second chance lower and upper secondary education that provide an integrated approach to basic adult education.

  • Support the progress of students from basic skills programmes into second chance secondary education.

Vocational skills programmes

  • Take stock of the already available vocational skills training programmes in the local communities, and decide on which training programmes to offer at CET institutions and which external providers to enter into partnerships with.

  • Engage with local employers and Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) to make sure that internship opportunities are available for CET students.

  • Coordinate closely with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in the region to ensure that there are easy pathways from the CET vocational skills programmes into TVET programmes.

Non-formal programmes

  • Decide on which non-formal programmes to offer and their content in close cooperation with local NGOs, employers and government departments.

  • Develop standardized CET certificates that serve as proof of (successful) completion of some of the non-formal programmes.

Information, guidance and recognition of prior learning (RPL)

  • Train CET staff to be able to deliver guidance in terms of training and job opportunities. Counsellors should keep their knowledge up-to-date through regular training.

  • Develop materials that can be used by CET staff to assist individuals in the elaboration of their RPL portfolio, and organise information sessions on RPL.

  • Facilitate coordination between CET institutions and Labour Centres, so that they can exchange information on job and training opportunities.

Ensuring adequate investment and securing the necessary funding

Priority investment areas

  • Audit the availability of empty spaces in communities where CET institutions now operate in poor conditions, and make agreements with other training providers to use their facilities.

  • Review the staffing in CET institutions and hire additional staff where needed. Develop training courses to get current staff members ready for their new tasks and roles.

  • Develop teaching and learning materials that allow for flexible and modular approaches. Coordinate with TVET colleges, employers, NGOs and government departments to obtain the necessary teaching and learning materials for vocational and non-formal programmes.

  • Take stock of available IT resources in the communities that could be used in CET institutions or be made accessible to CET students (e.g. libraries, enterprises).

Potential funding sources

  • Coordinate with provincial and municipal governments to understand the training programmes they fund/offer, and ensure that they see CET as a potential partner.

  • Submit a concrete and realistic funding request with the Treasury. A positive answer is more likely when the request concerns concrete plans that have political support.

  • Re-focus the National Skills Fund so that it is better targeted at the unemployed and other disadvantaged groups, and earmark a substantial part of its budget for CET investment.

  • Set more ambitious targets for SETAs in terms of training, especially in light of the growing levy collection and consistent underspending. Make all basic skills, second change, vocational and non-formal job-related programmes in CET eligible for SETA funding.

  • Allocate a larger part of the Unemployment Insurance Fund surplus to training expenditure as a way to improve labour market entry of job-seekers.

Aligning provision with local needs

Flexibility in programme offering and content

  • Design curricula for the centrally determined training programmes, in consultation with key stakeholders. Develop general teaching and learning materials for non-formal programmes.

  • Train CET managers on understanding the unit standards system and on curriculum design. This should be done in cooperation with SETAs and TVET colleges.

Using available skill needs information

  • Set up information sessions for CET staff to get familiar with existing skill needs data. Create a digital platform where all skill needs information is brought together.

  • Coordinate with SETAs and Employment Services South Africa to obtain skills needs information at the local level.

Involving key local stakeholders

  • Train CET managers on how to engage with local stakeholders.

  • Invite identified key stakeholders for information sessions on their potential role in CET. Engage with stakeholders on a regular basis, to ensure that the course offering and content remains in line with local needs.

  • Set up an information system to document stakeholder engagement. The evaluation of CET institutions should take their performance in stakeholder engagement into account.

Taking outcomes and feedback into account

  • Administer standardised satisfaction surveys and set up an information system to bring together the survey results.

  • Carefully register all students, including contact details. This could (in the future) be used for tracing surveys or for linking the CET database to other databases.

Ensuring high quality provision

Improving the quality of the CET workforce

  • Make sure that lecturers in the CET system are qualified, by gradually implementing training policies using professional development and RPL mechanisms.

  • Develop flexible pathways into the teaching profession for vocational subjects. Facilitate the entry of skilled workers from industry through shortened pedagogical preparation.

Developing a quality framework

  • Map out existing quality assurance and accreditation systems and improve their transparency

  • Develop, in consultation with stakeholders, quality standards and self-evaluation tools for CET institutions to measure performance against these standards.

  • Develop an accreditation system based on the quality standards, to ensure that all institutions are of quality and meet minimum requirements.

  • Develop a monitoring system for institutions to help them improve and collect data about learners, lecturers and institutions, including on learners’ socio-economic background.

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