REPORT BY UMALUSI, COUNCIL FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE IN GENERAL AND FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, ON THE 2004-2005 FINANCIAL YEAR TO THE PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

 

Umalusi assures the quality of general and further education and training. The Council monitors and moderates learner achievements and issues certificates at key points. It also evaluates whether providers of education and training have the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes and are doing so to expected standards of quality.

Umalusi is guided by the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act (No 58 of 2001).

The year under review saw Umalusi step squarely onto the public stage. The Councilís decision to withhold Senior Certificate results in the Mpumalanga province until allegations of irregularities were investigated, drew sustained national attention.

Umalusi is heartened by the public perception that it is the "protector" of the standards of this important examination but also forced to admit that it is largely dependant on the goodwill, trustworthiness and capacity in the education system. When all these are not present, quality is compromised all around.

While we are proud to say that we were able to carry out most of the functions stipulated in the Act, limited financial resources and the hiatus caused by the uncertainty around the outcomes of the review of the national qualification framework hampered progress and continues to do so. If these problems are not removed soon, the credibility of the band ETQA in the general and in the further education and training sectors could falter!

More about this later, first a review of the 2004-2005 financial year:

At council level a new chairperson was appointed by the Minister of Education. Mr John Pampallis, Director of the Centre for Education Policy Development in Johannesburg, took over from Dr Cassius Lubisi, who moved from the Ministry of Education to the national Department of Education.

The year was significant in the quality assurance of assessment. The processes for the quality assurance of assessment have been significantly improved. The research into the standard of the Senior Certificate examination that was conducted last year, has helped the Council to sharpen these processes. While attention had to be paid to the maintenance and improvement of the moderation and monitoring processes relating to the Senior Certificate, adult education and training and vocational education and training, much was also done to establish the broader framework for the quality assurance of assessment.

In September last year Umalusi started with the evaluation of assessment systems of the Chief Directorate: Examinations and Assessment at the national Department of Education and completed the evaluation of nine provincial assessment bodies and two private bodies in May this year.

In assuring the quality of assessment for the Senior Certificate, Umalusi moderated just on 2 600 question papers. Twenty-one monitors were deployed to monitor the conduct of the exams as well as the marking and the processing and capturing of results.

The investigation into the Mpumalanga irregularities was conducted in various phases and stretched over more than two months. A team of twenty independent specialists assisted Umalusi in the probe. In the end the results of 843 candidates were withheld.

Subsequently Mpumalanga nullified these results and the learners were allowed to rewrite the exams in the 2005. The schools and educators involved were sanctioned.

While the Mpumalanga debacle drew news media attention, Umalusiís communication staff also took various other steps earlier in the year to highlight its role in quality assuring the SC. The most important of these was the 80 000 leaflets distributed to just over 12 000 secondary public and private schools across the country. A seminar was also held in September 2004 to examine various issues in relation to Matric. Attended by nearly 200 persons, it brought together stakeholders from public and private assessment bodies, tertiary education and training institutions, labour organisations, private providers and parent bodies.

Umalusi also monitored the 2004 examinations in Level 4 adult basic education (ABET) and training and vocational education (in FET colleges) and was satisfied that they had been conducted in accordance with established norms and standards. All these results were released without reservations.

Last year Umalusiís Evaluation and Accreditation unit developed into a fully functional entity. This meant the development of external policy documents for the various sectors; internal policy documents for the operations of the unit; managing providers and other stakeholder groups during the consultation process; the monitoring of private providers in large numbers; piloting the implementation of external evaluation of both public and private assessment bodies; and meeting the timelines for all of these objectives.

The criteria for accreditation of all our providers were finalised in the first part of the present financial year.

Provisional accreditation of independent schools, further education and training colleges and adult basic education and training providers continued. By the end of the year 597 schools were provisionally accredited, 127 FET colleges and 72 ABET providers had been given three-year provisional accreditation.

An evaluation and accreditation committee of Umalusiís council was established and met for the first time in November 2004.

During the year Umalusiís research and development unit also started functioning. A research forum of experts to advise and support was established. A three year research plan has been developed. The investigation into the standard of the SC exams, I referred to earlier, was undertaken and the results published. In the new year two significant seminars have taken place and others are being planned, including a conference of all assessment bodies in Southern Africa next year.

In total Umalusi issued nearly 700 000 certificates (these are the Senior Certificate, National Senior Certificate, National N3 Certificate and the General Education and Training Certificate).

Umalusi designed a new certificate to replace that of the old South African Certification Council that was still being used. The certificate is the first to bear Umalusiís name and dark blue and gold emblem. The change to the regulations was gazetted by the Minister of Education in February 2005 and the Matrics of 2004 were the first to receive the new certificate.

Umalusi experienced an increase in the number of applications for verification of certificates. The Council processed over 48 000 applications during the year under review.

Umalusi implemented effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control systems in terms of section 38 (1) (j) of the PFMA. The financial performance of the organisation resulted in a R 5, 1 million net surplus for the year due to the additional R 5 million funding received from the Department of Education at the end of March 2005.

Umalusiís income source for the year was as follows:

INCOME SOURCE

AMOUNT

PERCENTAGE

Certification, verification, accreditation and moderation fees

R 7,171,290

30%

USAID

R 2,515,211

11%

Department of Education grant

R 12,869,000

55%*

Interest

R 936,169

4%

Sundry

R 55,956

0,2%

     

Total

R 23,547,626

 

* See later comments

  1. 30 June 2004-Revenue generated was R 7, 4 m and expenditure R 3, 8 m with
  2. R 3, 5 m surplus.

  3. 30 September 2004-Revenue generated was R 3, 6 m and expenditure R 4, 2 m with R 668 K deficit.
  4. 31 December 2004-Revenue generated was R 3, 6 m and expenditure R 4, 8 m with R 1, 1 m deficit.
  5. 31 March 2005-Revenue generated was R 8,3 m and expenditure R 4, 3 m with

R 5, 1 m surplus.

Umalusiís spending is within allocated budgets and strategic priorities.

The annual report gives a detailed account of its human resources situation.

And the way forward?

The uncertainties about Umalusiís future role and finances have to be solved. Among other things it has become clear that the Council cannot continue with the accreditation processes without clear indications that funds will be available to undertake and sustain such operations.

In the meantime we have been paying attention to the concept of standards in assessment as this will come to haunt us over and over again until we find a language that is acceptable and accessible to all. In this regard Umalusi is also starting to more systematically address its role in monitoring the adequacy and suitability of qualifications and standards.

We are advancing our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our assessment bodies in an attempt to make our assessment systems stronger and credible. Until now most of the energies have been spent on the evaluation of the capacity of the assessment bodies. The preparation for accreditation has started. It should be at an advance stage by the end of this financial year.

A new Quality Assurance of Qualifications and Curriculum Unit has been established. It has the responsibility to develop criteria and procedures within which Umalusi will conduct its function of monitoring the adequacy and suitability of qualifications and curriculum. The unit will play a major role in mediating the quality of provision in FET colleges for SETA related qualifications.

We continue to look at the most equitable ways to establish internal consistencies between qualifications in the same band as well as counselling on how qualifications can provide for meaningful progression routes.

The soon to be implemented new National Senior Certificate as well as the Further Education and Training Certificate (vocational), which is currently being developed, are receiving our urgent attention as there should not be any gap in the quality assurance function of these new qualifications.

Dr Peliwe Lolwana,

Chief Executive Officer,

Cape Town,

October 11th 2005.