20 years ago – wrappping up the EMP project

20 years ago we were doing a roadshow on the outcomes of the NQF Pilot project for Engineering & Manufacturing Processes. Funded by the Department of Labour it’s goal was to try and provide a test bed for the proposed conceptual basis of the National Qualifications Framework – in this case primarily unit standards.

It had been a stressful process involving many stakeholders who had not engaged previously, professional bodies, unions, business – mostly in the form of trainers, education institutions (what we later started to call education and training providers) and an examination body (the Independent Examination Body).

From time to time I bump into one the alumni of that process – alumni because we all graduated from there having learned so much.

I often run a workshop exercise which asks the question – what was your most powerful learning experience. I always choose this one although it’s touch and go between that and eventually mastering the kink at the end of the main straight at the Lichtenberg race track. A story for another day.

What I learned during this project was to facilitate processes. There were no hand books or guidelines for facilitation. The World Wide Web was new. There was no Google, in fact very few search engines at all. I had to transition from WordPerfect to Microsoft Office, from DOS to Win 3.11.

We had two sets of working groups. One started on a Monday and worked through to 19:30 and then finished up shortly at lunch on the Tuesday. The next set arrived on the Thursday and left Friday pm after a similar long Thursday. Wednesday was recovery day.

I had to learn to manage conflict, steer people in the right direction, recognise when groups were headed for the edge of the cliff. And lead the development of taxonomies for essential embedded knowledge, skills and assessment criteria .

But what a rush – it was learning to race motorbikes all over again, switching from driving to racing.

We focused on learning in the workplace. So it was a pity SAQA never had any real interest in what we learned and achieved. And sadly they still haven’t got the message today, 20 years later. They still haven’t realised their first objective: create an integrated national framework for learning achievements

They still confuse teaching and learning. Poor benighted fools