South Africa chosen and the National Qualifications Framework
In 1994 the international community witnessed the birth of a new democracy and welcomed the new South Africa as the most recent member of its global village. In accepting that honour, this country took on the associated challenges of that position.
Many countries all over the world are looking for better ways of educating their people and organising their education and training systems so that they might gain the edge in an increasingly competitive economic global environment. Furthermore, the world is an ever-changing place, politically, geographically and technologically. Indeed, the rapid technological advances of the twentieth century have placed education systems under extreme pressure as they try to adapt and incorporate these changes in an effort to produce more creative, effective and adaptable people. Success, or even survival, in such a world demands that South Africa has a national education and training system that provides quality learning, is responsive to the ever-changing influences of the external environment and promotes the development of a nation that is committed to life-long learning.
When learners know that there are clear learning pathways which provide access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths, they are more inclined to improve their skills and knowledge, as such improvements increase their employment opportunities . The increased skills base of the workforce has a wider implication namely the enhancement of the functional and intellectual capability of the nation, thereby increasing our chances for success in the global community.
Sir Christopher Ball (1996) in describing the kind of learner profile that is suited to the 21st century, spoke about ‘flexible generalists’. Ball maintained that such people are needed to realise the goal of life-long learning which, with the ever-increasing human longevity, will characterise the successful citizenry of the next millennium. ‘Flexible generalists’ are people equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and values to adjust readily to multiple career changes and make, through their own personal development, a significant contribution to the life of this country and the world. The shift in thinking is from education for employment – developing the ability to do a specific job – to education for employability – developing the ability to adapt acquired skills to new working environments. The new education and training system must be able to support the notion of an adaptable workforce.