Over the last century, we’ve witnessed a drastic change in what determines competitive advantage and power. In the past, having control over labour and raw materials meant having influence. Now we’re seeing a switch — whoever has the most specialised knowledge and creativity is becoming the authoritative voice in our society.
Almost anyone can access information. If you have internet, answers are a mere click away.
But how can we validate which of the many answers is correct? And how do we know if we’re even asking the right questions? With so much knowledge available, what determines truth from lies?
After all, just a glance at the news shows us that knowledge and truth can be skewed to fit specific motives. We’re drowning in information, but starving for the insights we genuinely need.
Epistemologists explore what knowledge is, how it’s acquired, and how we recognise and validate it. Scepticism is crucial in this last element — if we overlook this quality, we might all move along in our lives believing everything we’re told, oblivious to the truth.
Compliance could be viewed a little bit like scepticism because it’s a critical tool that assists in maintaining integrity in the RTO industry. A resounding collective sigh of relief is heard from RTOs around Australia when compliance is over, but have we forgotten the purpose of these strict guidelines and rules?
If knowledge were a house, compliance would be the foundation.
Standards for RTOs 2015 details how RTOs must maintain an ethical offering of knowledge, and ensure learners are spending their time and money on valid studies. Within this document are eight standards, summarised below:
The quality of knowledge provided must be sufficient, and trainers fully qualified. How can we expect students to learn if their teachers don’t know what they’re talking about, or they don’t have access to proper resources?
An RTO must assess their learners’ attainment of knowledge without bias. A learner must only receive a qualification if they have proved that they acquired the knowledge from the course.
Qualification and price must be nationally consistent: the cost of studying first aid in Brisbane must be similar to Melbourne.
Knowledge taught must be relevant. Learning about computer science in the 80s would be very different to learning about it now!
Ensure the learner is aware of their responsibility during the course before entering it. Kind of like starting a new job, if the recruit doesn’t know what’s expected of them, how can they perform successfully?
Feedback and complaints must be accessible and transparent. For continuous improvement and to prevent injustice, the learner must be able to have their say regarding their experience and contribute to improving the learning of their future peers.
RTOs must be financially viable and stable. If you’re investing in shares, you want to know you’re putting your time and money into something secure.
All staff and third parties must be aware of these standards and maintain transparency when auditing. Everyone responsible for upholding these standards must know about the standards, or else how can they abide by them?
These standards help elevate the distinction between true knowledge and false belief, making the knowledge we receive reliable and uncorrupted. After all, anyone can say they know something and initiate a debate about their beliefs, but the point of going to training and receiving a certificate is to prove that your knowledge is true, worthy, and authentic. We cannot act effectively on knowledge that is false, and validated study gives the learner grounds to defend their beliefs and contribute to the world.
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