Academic Portability and Parity within the TVET and Higher Education Institutions in Western Cape

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After 1994, in South Africa the key education policy focus was how to reconfigure and transform the education system to create meaningful pathways and supports for school leavers to navigate sustainable incomes and life trajectories. Given the legacies of inequality and historical neglect, an abiding focus was on how better to connect education and work for the majority of South African school leavers. One of the identified pathways was to encourage the pursuit of skills in the occupational and vocational arenas amongst learners and school leavers. A significant challenge for the reconfiguration of the education system was how to give learners access to different kinds of education and training, not only at the school level but also at the Further Education and Training (FET) level and at university level, and to ensure that pathways were available for learners to easily move between the different levels. This required a new system and a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) that allowed levels of parity and portability across a basic education and training band, a further education and training band, and a higher education band, which were intended to better connect learners, education service providers, and industries throughout. This study explores the level of parity and portability within the education system developed after 1994, concentrating on the connections created between the further education and training band and the higher education band. The study more specifically examines levels of parity and portability between the National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) qualification offered at TVET colleges (at the FET band level) and those respectively offered via university of technology (higher education or HE band level) qualifications. It illustrates this by focusing on the NATED Report 191, which has an artisanal focus, to show how education-industry links operate differently in the TVET sector as opposed to the Higher Education and Training (HET) sector, and how this influences how portability and parity occur across the two sectors. Business Studies is used as a case study to demonstrate the unique relationships that exist between companies, education service providers, and learners, and to show how these tiers differ between the TVET and HET sectors. Using purposive sampling, the qualitative study conducted a variety of semi-structured interviews with provincial education officials and institutional education practitioners within the Western Cape, the purpose of which was to get insight into their understanding of the different programmes at the various band levels, and their connections. The overall goal was to better understand whether learners were being properly prepared - with a good balance of theory and practice, and appropriate courses at different band levels - to achieve a consistent, quality, and sound educational base on which to develop their further development (DoE, 1998). The study provides a variety of insights into why there is currently little or inadequate articulation or portability between TVET college business studies programmes and related university of technology programmes, and the role of the NATED Report 191 in perpetuating this. The study offers important concerns at a time where the South African state is urging post- secondary school learners to enrol in the TVET sector, claiming that this will provide equal possibilities to those who wish to pursue further education in university settings.