THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA)
SAQA is a statutory body, established in terms of the SAQA Act, No. 58 of 1995. It is made up of 29 members appointed by the Minister of Education in consultation with the Minister of Labour. SAQA is mandated by legislation to oversee the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
THE NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK
The NQF is a framework i.e. it sets the boundaries – principle and guidelines, which provide a vision, a philosophical base and an organisational structure – for construction of a qualifications system. Detailed development and implementation is carried out within these boundaries. All education and training in South Africa fits within this framework.
It is national because it is a national resource, representing a national effort at integrating education and training into unified structure of recognised qualifications. It is framework of qualifications i.e. records of learner achievements.
In short, the NQF is a set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, thereby ensuring an integrated system that encourages lifelong learning.
The NQF consist of three bands, namely General Education (level 1 – schooling up to grade 9 and ABET), Further Education and Training (levels 2 – 4: grade 10 – 12), and Higher Education (levels 5 – 8) After completion of level 1 of the NQF, a learner could achieve a General Education and Training Certificate and after completion of level 4 of the NQF, a Senior Certificate or Further Education and Training Certificate.
WHY HAS SOUTH AFRICA CHOSEN THE NQF?
In 1994 South Africa witnessed the birth of a new democracy. It enacted legislation to deal with the divided apartheid education and training system. 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.
FUNCTIONS OF SAQA
The functions of SAQA are essentially twofold :
• to oversee the development of the NQF by formulating and publishing policies and criteria for registration of bodies responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications and for accreditation of bodies responsible for monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of such standards and qualifications
• to oversee the implemetation of the NQF by ensuring the registration, accreditation and assignment of functions to bodies referred to above, as well as the registration of national standards and qualifications on the framework. It must also take steps to ensure that provisions for accreditations are complied with and where appropriate, that registered standards and qualifications are internationally comparable.
SAQA’s primary objective is the promotion of a high quality education and training system in South Africa that embraces the concept of life-long learning for all. In order to realise this objective, SAQA has established and maintains the following:
• a system for setting nationally recognised and internationally comparable education and training standards and qualifications from NQF Level 1 (Grade 9 or Adult Basic Education and Training Level 4 - the exit point from General Education and Training) to NQF Level 8 (post-graduate qualifications) • a national quality assurance system to ensure that education and training is delivered to the set standards • an electronic management information system which records all relevant information on the achievements of South African learners (the National Learners’ Records Database).
SAQA also has the task of evaluating foreign educational qualifications to determine their South African equivalence. People with foreign qualifications who wish to attend South African education institutions or who wish to enter the South African labour market apply to SAQA to have their qualifications evaluated.
SAQA’s contribution ensures that South Africans have access to quality education and skills development to improve their lives.
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