Eventful year for SA’s qualifications authority

graduationcompresseThe South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has completed its move from policy development to policy implementation, CEO Joe Samuels says in the 2015/16 annual report.

This was completed with the finalisation and approval of the Policy and Criteria for Evaluating Foreign Qualifications as well as the revision and publication of the Foreign Qualifications Appeals Policy.

In the past financial year, 23 622 foreign qualifications were recognised and certificates issued. It has also published a policy to revoke certificates if new evidence shows qualifications were fraudulent and should not have been recognised.

Samuels says much of the implementation involves coordinating the work of SAQA and quality councils so they have a common approach and clear roadmap for implementing the NQF (National Quality Forum).

SAQA, the quality councils, the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Basic Education meet quarterly to monitor progress with implementation and discuss matters of mutual interest.

During the year, the NQF Implementation Plan for 2015-2020 was developed and approved.

NQF Advisory Service, which responds to learner queries, was launched and SAQA has also taken a proactive approach on social media platforms.

During the year SAQA recognised 13 new professional bodies and registered 36 professional designations.

Samuels says there had been an increase in the number of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications, particularly of public figures, and the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, asked SAQA to establish a register of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications.

A committee chaired by Samuels set up a task team to develop a Draft Policy on Misrepresented Qualifications, which was handed to the minister and it also gives bi-monthly reports to the Minister on the number of qualifications that have been misrepresented.

SAQA verified 72 543 national qualifications in the public service during the year, and developed and published an Appeals Policy for individuals to appeal the outcome of the verification of their qualifications.

Samuels says SAQA is able to perform the verification of national qualifications as it houses the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD), containing records for over 16.8m learners, over a million of which were added in this financial year alone.

The database also holds records of over 13.4m qualification achievements.

SAQA’s work to build relationships with other agencies on the African continent, led to preparation to launch the African Qualifications Verification Network, which will focus grow a network of verification practitioners, speed up verification processes and work at digitising learner records in an attempt “to promote learner mobility and lifelong learning in Africa.”

Internationally, SAQA provided input into agreements with China and Cuba on the mutual recognition of qualifications, Samuels served as an expert on the formulation of a Global Convention for Higher Education Qualifications driven by UNESCO, and SAQA also submitted a research report on trends related to National Standards for Teachers and School Leaders to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Samuels says this is SAQA’s 19th consecutive unqualified audit.

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DHET News is the online home for news generated by the Department of Higher Education and Training's e-bulletin.

Posted in December2016

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