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Article pertaining to new education framework in South Africa.

Levelling the Playing Fields:
Guide training in new education dispensation

"The times they are a changing!" sang the muse of the sixties generation, but the philosophical words of Dylan are no more relevant than now to South African job-seekers and students. On June 16th the country celebrated Freedom Day, previously known as Soweto Day, commemorating the uprising of the youth in schools on 16 June, 1986. On that day, scores of students ran riot to protest the inequalities of the educational system of the apartheid era. The 12-year old Hector Peterson was an innocent casualty, but his tragic death made him an instant icon for freedom and change in the education system. His memory lends impetus to the process whereby the education structure in South Africa is being changed forever. The Education Act which set this in motion was promulgated in1993. The effects of the changes brought about by this Act are reverberating throughout all educational endeavors in South Africa, including recreational and professional sports and guide training.

The Education Act make provision for bodies to be formed to establish the new standards for all avenues of education. These so-called SGB's[Standard Generating Bodies] are assembled at the discretion of the minister and on the basis of various criteria, including recommendations by the public, and they have the unenviable task of writing the "Unit Standards" for each and every field of education. In the process, for indeed it will be an everlasting process of introspection and re-evaluation, the SGB's are required to consult with a wide a field of exponents. Standards are written according to a set framework [the National Qualification Framework] and are pitched at various levels of education, ranging from 1 [present grade 10 or standard 8] to 4 [Grade 12 or Standard 10]and beyond to 5[diploma], 6[first degree], 7 and 8 [masters and beyond]. Standards are published in the Government Gazette for public scrutiny and comment. The whole process is made as transparent as possible and participation by the public is encouraged. To this effect, THETA [the Tourism, Hospitality, Education…..] is conducting the Learnership Project which is part-sponsored by the new training levies and which serves to bring interest groups and role players to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the writing of the unit standards.

Recently, various role players in the burgeoning commercial adventure industries were afforded the opportunity to meet at the THETA headquarters in Bryanston, Johannesburg to debate the training requirements for their various activities. Mountain-biking, mountaineering, fly-fishing, paintball, abseiling, bungee and paddling sports were all represented, albeit by characters in unfamiliar guises [overheard: "not since '91 have I worn shoes for so long…", and this was after the first lunch break of the first day of a two-day conference!] and territories [one delegate was spotted with a marine compass planted on the dashboard of the utility vehicle, maintaining sense of his bearings in an unfamiliar and featureless, concrete landscape]. It soon became evident that some activities, notably the various paddling sports, had organised bodies which over the years had obtained accreditation from SATOUR for their training courses, but others were independent, bereft of any organisations. Some turned to spurious decisions taken at adventure conferences, others took recourse to their associations. Obscure interest groups such as the unofficial team-building one determined after two days of debate, that they may be better represented by another SGB altogether; one dealing with professional services such as management and health, not necessarily sport and tourism!

A follow-up meeting was held for the professional paddling industries and the effectiveness of the process was sorely tested and its effectiveness demonstrated by the resulting agreed-upon generic unit standards. Swift-water exponents [previously white water aficionados], flat water canoe operators [previously still or open water canoeists] and coastal water kayakers[sea kayaking] now all share a generic standard to which they can address their training programmes.. Each discipline retains its unique character, skills and terminology, but each conforms to an accepted norm and level of training in respect of conducting a professional guided experience to their customers. The process of obtaining such standards was professionally facilitated and no lobby-group got past an almost poker-faced conflict manager who ensured that the process remained on course and that it was not scuppered by past power groups or by previous arrangements of convenience. Scant regard was paid to claims of extravagant past experiences, excessive inventory lists of competencies and any maneuvers geared to interfere with the tried-and tested procedure of obtaining the unit standards. In the end, satisfactory unit standards were written for the paddling industry and the participants were suitably humbled by the process.

With this approach South Africa's educational system and its tourism and adventure industry will be transformed and assured of a professional service that can mix with the best. Justified this may be, considering the cost of freedom and the leveling of the playing fields.

READ MORE ABOUT TASKS

1. A Brief History of TASKS

2. The Formation of TASKS

3. Guide training in new education dispensation

4. Transformation of river association

5. Sea kayaking association promotes clubs and training

6. TASK guidelines To Local Councils

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Real Cape Adventures and PaddleYak - proud sponsors of TASKS

23  September  2019


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