Tag Archives: writing skills

South Africa skills development plan given a boost

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande

A task team is going to be established to help to increase SETA’s capacity in order to fulfill the desired goals and objectives of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III.

NSDS III, unveiled last week by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, is the major driving force associated with the strategy to enhance the overall performance as well as effectiveness of the skills development program.

The plan of action, that will actually come into effect on 1 April 2011, symbolizes a commitment and responsibility to promoting the linking of skills development to career paths, career development and offering sustainable job opportunities and in-work progression.


Nzimande said the strategy concentrated specifically on individuals who do not possess appropriate technical skills or a sufficient amount of reading, writing and numeracy abilities to make it possible for them gain access to employment.

“Language, literacy and numeracy skills are unquestionably essential to improved economic and social participation, productivity and social inclusion,” Nzimande said.

The NSDS III places emphasis on eight goals and objectives, which includes more effective utilization of workplace based skills development in addition to encouraging and supporting cooperatives, small enterprises and local community education and training initiatives.


Nzimande reiterated that SETAs were definitely not destined to be shut down, on the contrary, preferably strengthened as a measure to rise above the difficulties, challenges and weakness within the system, through the NSDS.

Education Training and Development Practices SETA CEO, Sesi Nxesi, welcomed the launch of the NSDS III.

“All of us genuinely feel there exists a change in the country. It [NSDS III] is a lot more organised and structured, in addition it helps bring about cooperation and i am optimistic that we definitely will achieve the goals, collectively,” said an optimistic Nxesi.

Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA)
Banking SETA (BANKSETA)
Chemical Industries SETA (CHIETA)
Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather SETA (CTFL SETA)
Construction SETA(CETA)
Education Training and Skills Development SETA (ETSD-SETA)
Energy SETA (ESETA)
Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services SETA (FASSET)
Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry SETA (FOODBEV)
Forest Industry SETA (FIETA)
Health and Welfare SETA (HWSETA)
Information Systems, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies SETA (isett seta)
Insurance SETA (INSETA)
Local Government SETA (LGSETA)
Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services (MERSETA)
Media, Advertising, Publishing, Printing and Packaging SETA ( MAPPP-SETA)
Public Service Sector SETA (PSETA)
Safety and Security SETA (SASSETA)
Services SETA
SETA for Mining and Minerals Sector (MQA)
Social Security and Development SETA
Transport SETA (TETA)
Wholesale & Retail SETA (W&RSETA)

Source: BuaNews, gcis.gov.za

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Stay Ahead of the game with GetSmarter’s October promotion

With the new year fast approaching, now is the best time to get ahead of the pack and fulfill some of your upcoming resolutions. It’s vital to plan for the future – and it often pays off too.

These days, most working professionals think they don’t have time to acquire a new skill set or to study something valuable. But GetSmarter’s wide range of part-time online courses makes brushing up on new techniques and furthering your knowledge a breeze. They’re specially designed for working professionals, current students and people who want to gain new, valuable skills but who don’t have the time or inclination to take a costly contact-based course.

Alex Trengove Jones and Anna Malczyk

GetSmarter works with industry leaders like the University of Cape Town and Random House Struik and presents courses on financial management, creative writing, project administration, internet marketing and guest house management, among others. You can learn a new trade or hobby, improve your business skills or make your CV more marketable: the courses are very practical and give you real, valuable skills you can use right away. It you’re serious about achieving your goals and getting ahead, a GetSmarter course could be just the motivation you need. GetSmarter will have trained over 2,500 students by the end of 2010.

Claire Allison and Anna Malczyk

All of the courses are presented online, making them ideal for busy working professionals who are looking for an affordable, convenient and supportive learning environment. The courses, which typically run over 8 to 10 weeks, include detailed course notes written by subject experts, quizzes and videos to make learning more engaging, a discussion forum for students to interact with each other and their teacher, and practical assignments that let students put their learning into practice.

Gareth Cotten

Although GetSmarter is raising the course fees for 2011, in line with annual increases, anybody can take advantage of the October promotion to get university-quality online tuition at the discounted 2010 rate. This special applies to all courses run in conjunction with the University of Cape Town.

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University students can’t read

The recent publication in South Africa of the results of pilots of the new National Benchmark Tests – tests which measure the performance of school-leavers in three key areas and aim to predict whether or not they will have difficulty as they enter university – has brought a flurry of outrage from academics and politicians. They are reported as claiming that standards are dropping and students can’t read or write. While this sort of knee-jerk reaction to tests conducted at a national level is largely predictable, especially in a country where the school system still experiences huge problems, it is also questionable given research produced in the field of academic development – an area which has long concerned itself with the issue of student ‘under-preparedness’ at universities.

Entrance to South Africa’s 23 public universities has long been problematic because of the history of apartheid. Before the shift to democracy, the education system was segregated along racial lines. This not only meant that black students were allowed entrance only to certain universities but also that the demographic profile of the student population was far from representative of the general population.

Following the 1994 democratic election, the challenge has been to provide access to higher education to the black majority. Since this has had to be done in the context of a school system which continues to serve different sectors of the population in unequal ways, universities have not only needed to identify those students with the potential to succeed but also to identify those who can succeed if some additional support is provided.

Current thinking in academic development argues that it’s not just the ‘plain old reading and writing’ much lauded by ‘back to basics’ advocates that universities require but rather much more specific kinds of literacy. Universities require students to make inferences and draw conclusions from what they read, and to use reading of other texts and their knowledge of the world to question what they are reading. This kind of reading is very different to the sort of reading involved in, say, following a set of instructions, finding a plumber in the Yellow Pages or doing the types of comprehension passage taught at school level.

It’s not simply that reading at university is more difficult than other sorts of reading but rather that it involves the reader taking up a different position in relationship to what she reads – a position which is ultimately derived from values and attitudes related to what can count as knowledge and how that knowledge can be known. This makes reading in university disciplines and fields qualitatively different to many other kinds of reading. So, there’s reading and there’s reading.

What the National Benchmark Tests show is not that the South African school-leavers who took the tests can’t read and write per se, but rather that many can’t read and write in ways specific to the university.

Only about 16% of South African 18 to 24 year olds are at universities and the pilots tested only a small sample of this 16%. The new tests tell us nothing about how the other 84% of young people can read and write yet strident pronouncements about ‘falling standards’ and the need to go ‘back to basics’ are made on the basis of them.

As for teaching the students who can’t yet read and write in the specific ways required by universities, that’s a responsibility which has long fallen to those of us working in academic development programmes. We have come to realise, this isn’t as easy or as obvious a task as it might appear.

I have a PhD in applied linguistics and years of experience working in language development yet I can’t teach students to understand a natural scientific article or write a lab report as I can’t do either of those things myself.

What I can do is teach my own students to read and write in ways my own field of study expects. As I teach my students to make knowledge in the field, so I teach them to read and write in ways demanded by the field. This means that I teach my students how to read and write right up to doctoral level, as demands at postgraduate level are very different to those of an undergraduate assignment.

What I can also do is what the research of Cecilia Jacobs of Cape Peninsula University of Technology has shown that people like me can do – I can help academics in other disciplines understand the ways of reading and writing which underpin knowledge production in their own fields of study in order to open them up to their own students.

Sadly, the lure of an easy solution is hard to resist. So pundits make claims about falling standards, call for outcomes-based education to be abandoned in favour of a return to more traditional approaches, and demand that people like me ‘fix’ the students. Yet, contemporary theories of language question the assumptions about language on which these traditional models are based.

In South African higher education, moreover, a wealth of research shows that attempts to develop language and literacy in special classes outside mainstream learning have not had the effect anticipated. Despite this research, commonsense and unexamined experience rule – even though, as many thinkers have argued, commonsense and unexamined experience can be very dangerous things.

Rather than knee-jerk reactions to the results of the National Benchmark Tests, we owe it to the learners of South Africa to think much more carefully and ask more probing questions before we pronounce on what should be done in the name of language and literacy development. We also need to explore the theoretical and ideological basis of the pronouncements we make.

If we don’t do this, the young people who will learn to read and write in powerful ways are those who pick up those ways of reading and writing outside the formal learning environment – young people who are already privileged because of the educational and social background of their parents and what that exposes them to – while commonsense is left to disserve the masses.

Source: universityworldnews.com, britannica.com, international.uiowa.edu, en.wikipedia.org,

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The Writing Studio – Find your voice as a writer

THE WRITE VOICE – FIND YOUR VOICE AS A WRITER

If 2008 was the year of pursuing and exploring your writing talent and honing your writing skills, 2009 is the year to take a step in the write direction.

“Whatever you do, take the write action and turn thoughts into words,” says Daniel Dercksen, who will be taking aspirant writers through the paces of being a writer in South Africa with the The Write Voice workshop at the Artscape Theatre Centre on September 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 2pm until 5pm.

The Write Voice is aimed at storytellers who would like to sharpen their creative skills and explore their writer’s voice.

“One of the major reasons that writers fail to complete projects successfully is because they have no idea who they are as writers and how to project their writer’s voice,” says Dercksen.

“Once you take ownership of your writer’s voice it is possible to make a healthy living by channelling your writing through the right medium and turning your writing talent into a powerful tool of communicating effectively and passionately.”

The Write Voice takes writers through the writing process, from the inception of an idea, to selecting the right medium for your story.

It empowers writers to make the right choices and take ownership of their writing; master the craft of writing for different mediums (from articles to short stories, from novels to plays and films); develop an understanding of what and who you are writing about; and how to change chaos into completed projects that is publisher-and-producer friendly.

During the workshop the writers will write a short story that will be read to the group at the last session.

The workshop is presented by Daniel E. Dercksen, who has done more than 350 practical and motivational workshops in creative writing and scriptwriting throughout South Africa during the past nine years; and as a published movie journalist, with more than 22 years experience, he writes regular interviews and features on a freelance basis.

Bursaries are available on discretion for disadvantaged writers.

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