The issue of accreditation and certification is unresolved. This framework will highlight the main issues and provide options and recommendations. Several options are probable in the area of accreditation and certification.
Firstly, SchoolNet could become a provider and offer courses for accreditation. This would involve registration as a provider and adherence to a range of regulations and guidelines. It would also require the registration of qualifications for recognition by SAQA. It is optional to base these qualifications on unit standards. Unit standards are regarded as the building blocks on which qualifications are built and it is these "qualifications which provide the mobility, structural and social, which the NQF objectives seek to promote 67". Members of the EDICT mailing list support the view that it is not a viable option for SchoolNet to be registered as a provider, a view expressed at the first consultative workshop. In fact, it would appear that an NGO cannot become an accredited educator development provider of a full course qualification and that this task is reserved for Institutes of Higher Education as from 2001. Meanwhile SAQA has requested providers to send their short (standards-based) course information in an electronic form to be checked and recorded on an Interim Database for Short Courses at SAQA. From this database the courses will be referred to the appropriate ETQA for accreditation and quality assurance purposes and to the appropriate NSB and SGB for matching them with suitable standards and fitting them into a suitable qualification. This process will ensure that short courses are brought into the NQF loop and will bring the short course providers (public, private and NGOs) into the SAQA fold. However, SchoolNet's ICT Integration courses do not relate to a specific sub-field and there are no unit standards on which to base short courses other than the outcomes included in this framework.
Secondly, SchoolNet could seek partnerships with existing education agencies in accrediting the courses associated with its projects. This would involve co-ordination with the partners to recognise the courses' content, quality and process. Based on content and process of the courses, credits would be awarded for successful achievement of the outcomes of the courses and certification would be endorsed by a tertiary institution. At this stage only two tertiary institutions offer credible ICT-related courses for educator development (see Appendix I). In order to have a series of SchoolNet workshops (presented as a course) accepted as an elective module for an Advanced Certificate in Education, a maximum of 40 credits (400 notional hours) can be assigned to the course. SchoolNet courses are unlikely to exceed that limit, but could be designed to form such an elective, should the necessary partnerships with tertiary institutions exist.
SchoolNet should urgently pursue partnerships with tertiary institutions in order to have its modularised distance learning short courses certified and accredited.
In the case of ICT skills training courses, such accreditation (where applicable) and certification could take place in partnership with nationally recognised computer training institutes. Unit standards for End User Computing do exist, but these are placed at level 2 and 3 of on the NQF. The need for educational and administrative contexts for applications skills training involving educators remains of paramount importance. However, educators have the right to pursue commercial courses accredited at NQF level 2 and 3, or internationally recognised courses such as the ICDL, A+ and MCSE, as their needs dictate
SchoolNet should pursue relationships with tertiary institutions that are prepared to certify and accredit short courses involving the use of ICT skills in educational and administrative contexts.
Return to Contents Page
A third strategy is to influence the whole course qualifications of pre-service educators. This could be achieved by attempting to have unit standards for the educational use of ICT emphasized in the requirements for general school educator qualifications (i.e. not for specialist IT teachers). Educational ICT and the integration of ICT with curriculum is unofficially regarded as a cross-field outcome by the NSB for Education, Development and Training. No Unit Standards exist other than the outcomes developed consultatively in the process of this framework (Appendix E).
Schoolnet should seek partners and pursue the relationships that have been established with NSB 05 (Education, Development and Training) and the SGB for Educators in Schooling, to whom submissions have been made (Appendix H). The best strategies for establishing Educational ICT standards and influencing providers' course content should be established and pursued.
SchoolNet should strive to influence the content of pre-service educator training qualifications by seeking the inclusion of educational ICT competencies / standards as an elective and / or in part as core competencies.
Further options for a development path for educators in the field of educational ICT lie within the domain of tertiary providers who have recognised whole course qualifications. There are also several foreign universities that have credible educational technology courses.
SchoolNet and its partners should continue to collaborate with tertiary institutions in order to encourage the establishment of whole course qualifications for Educational ICT. Contact with foreign universities who are prepared to discuss collaboration with South African tertiary institutions in providing such courses, should be pursued.