Mr S J F Marais (DA) to ask the Minister for the Public Service and Administration:
The mandate of PALAMA, as set out in the Public Service Amendment Act, 2007, is to provide or cause training to be provided in the public service. As a training provider accredited by the PSETA, PALAMA is also mandated to conduct examinations or tests and issue diplomas or certificates on completion and passing of examinations or tests.
The recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission Report on the Reform and Transformation of the Public Service in South Africa, 1998 included a systematic move from the then South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) to a School of Government. Cabinet has also approved the Ministerial Committee Report on the review of SAMDI in 2006 that a School of Government be established.
The considered view was that facilitation of training by the then SAMDI and PALAMA through the various service providers such as universities and private providers are not embedded in the public administration and service. The School of Government's broad thrust is to provide accredited professional and academic qualifications embedded in the public administration and services for all public servants or officials working at various departments and institutions of Government. The overall intend of the training and development programmes to be newly designed and offered by the School of Government will increase the capacity of public servants and officials at all levels, including facilitating innovative classroom engagement of challenges faced by all levels of Government in service delivery and its administration.
Specifying the role of PALAMA in terms of (1) training, PALAMA advise departments on the appropriate training informed by direct engagements with their human resource management practitioners and through analysis of their Workplace Skills Plans. Further to this, PALAMA does conduct Training Needs Analysis sessions for departments. PALAMA has combined methods in carrying out training. Depending on the level of training intervention offered, PALAMA's training provides class room training and practical learning. The orientation of PALAMA's training is specific to the public service competency framework and also customised to specific needs in line with administrative requirements in the range of functions within the public service. This is in addition to the induction of all new in the public service as part of their in service probation training.
With regard to the (ii) capacity building role; PALAMA's training approach promotes group learning. In addition to classroom peer learning through learner groups from the same or complementary departments, PALAMA offers online training which provides learners with unrestricted access to learning and required support from training facilitators. In addition, PALAMA has started with a programme of Virtual Communities of Practice in order to promote peer support in problem solving and enriching the practice of workplace knowledge sharing using on-line discussion forums.
PALAMA is established in terms of the Public Service Act as a national department responsible for training in the public service, and therefore acts as training provider in government. It is a training provider whose main mandate is to ensure the necessary provision of high-quality practical leadership, management and administrative training for the public service. In order for PALAMA to receive recognition as an accredited training provider, it is subject to standards and accreditation received from PSETA. In the process of carrying out training in line with qualifications approved in the national qualifications framework, PALAMA needs to make use of qualified trainers, assessors and moderators whose training and accreditation is also the function of the PSETA.
The PSETA is a public service training authority established in terms of the Skills Development Act. Its function is to facilitate requirements for skills development and training in the public service in line with the national qualifications framework. It is accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and its activities are monitored by this Body to determine and demonstrate compliance with SAQA requirements. As different from interacting directly with learners as a training facilitator and provider, PSETA is responsible for the accreditation of sector education and training providers such as PALAMA and similar provincial public service training academies.
PALAMA is currently an Academy and we have taken a decision to convert it into a School of Government which will be launched in October 2013. This School of Government, similarly to those in the our higher education and training environment and benchmarked against other countries School of Government will deliver a much broader and comprehensive training and development programme for public officials and servants in the various levels of Government. The capacity of the new School of Government will include functions such as development of evidence-based training intervention programmes at the points of delivery; curriculum design; quality assurance of training programmes through teaching and learning and accreditation; context based delivery of training programme; and offering of professional and academic certificates. The public service administration and training environment in Government, including PALAMA will be structured around these functional areas.
As soon as the detail plan and process of establishment and operationalisation of the School of Government is in place, I will inform the Cabinet and Parliament of the overall restructuring of the public administration and service training environment in Government, including the restructuring of PALAMA.