APEL.Q Case studiesSouth Africa APEL.Q case study in training and the world of work

South African police service


The history of the South African Police Service (SAPS) music bands goes back to 1903 with the establishment of the SAPS Tshwane Band. The establishment of the SAPS Tshwane Band was followed by the establishment of more bands namely, the SAPS Police Bands started in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Soweto in the 1960s. In 2000, SAPS Bands were established in all nine provinces of South Africa. A tenth band was established at the SAPS Tshwane Head Office. Al music bands play the same style of music and each consists of 45 musicians.

Music band members have a variety of backgrounds. Some studied music at degree level; others lectured in music and some obtained the skill to play one or more music instruments as a hobby. The challenge of the SAPS bands is to unite these individual band members and train them to play music within the typical military genre. SAPS developed training material spanning a range of music levels and trains band members to obtain a high level of performance. The music training performed was however not accredited by the relevant quality assurance body. This non-accredited training culminated into a situation where band members have developed skills without formal recognition, which had a negative effect on promotions.

Procedures and processes

RPL Advocacy Process. Between the end of 2011 and beginning of 2013 an RPL advocacy process started to inform music band members across all nine provinces of what RPL is and what RPL requires of candidates. The result of the workshops was that band members supported the envisaged process to be followed.

Benchmarking exercise. As the level of the SAPS syllabi followed in music training was unknown, it was clear that an RPL process could not commence without a benchmarking exercise. Benchmarking would provide information on the current level of performance and informed the RPL process for each of the band members. The SAPS music syllabi were benchmarked broadly against their national and international recognised counterparts developed and used by the University of South Africa, Trinity College London and the Royal Schools of Music.

Establishing partnerships to put the RPL process in place. In a partnership between SAPS, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and Trinity College London, a process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for SAPS Tshwane Band was put in place, including the related qualification development process that will take place with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO).

Assessing the level of performance. In a benchmarking exercise, the level of performance of SAPS Tshwane Band was sought in relation to Trinity College London music grades. The SAPS Tshwane Band performed five pieces of music in front of an audience. They were officially assessed by staff from Trinity College London.

It was found that SAPS Tshwane Band was performing at Associate Trinity College London level, which is registered at the South African National Qualifications Framework (SNQF) Level 5, which is one level above Trinity Music Grade 8. Lower-level band members were found to be performing at Trinity Music Grades 6-8 levels.

Outcomes and ways forward

Following this benchmarking exercise, SAPS music bands in South Africa’s nine provinces can enter a SAQA-facilitated RPL process with Trinity College London. This work will be done within a partnership that includes SAPS, SAQA, the QCTO, the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), and the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA).

Recognised music qualifications will be developed for SAPS, and assistance will be provided for RPL practices in the future.

This example has shown that the RPL process is not only an individual process but also a collective process in which the entire band was helped to move up the qualifications pathway.


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