SAQA & Quality Council for Trades and Occupations 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

19 April 2018
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) gave the Committee a brief background on the mandate of the QCTO which included Quality Assurance as a significant part. The QCTO sent an invitation to meet with the current the Minister of Higher Education  in helping to bring the mandate together. The QCTO listed the organisation’s strategic outcomes and introduced the three programs that were established to help fulfil the mandate. One of the programmes looked at Quality Assurance which now defines the current scope of the organisation.

The QCTO is currently developing part qualifications by reviewing the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework. It is also working on aligning Historically Registered Qualifications and Occupational Qualifications quality assurance systems so as to bring them under one national system. The Vision strategy for the revoking of all Quality Assurance functions delegated to the SETAs however it requires extra funding. With the current SETA Levy Grant that the QCTO receives, it is not enough to execute the full Quality Assurance mandate laid out in Vison 2020. As a result, the QCTO has developed a Business Case which indicates the funding requirements.

Key Performance Indictors for each of the programmes were discussed along with the establishment of new indicators. The Revenue and Expenditure budget has seen a heavy reliance on the SETA grant which takes up most of the budget. Expenditure has been increasing year by year although there is neither a deficit nor a surplus.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) briefed the Committee of its various achievements including the electronic distribution of certificates of evaluation, a pilot project. Under the Annual Performance Plan, SAQA seeks to de-register qualifications with no learner uptake, ensure genuine qualifications, develop a new Articulation Plan and update its Succession Plan. SAQA is also facing a number of risks including an insufficient budget to support the mandate. The government grant does not cover costs especially after the budget cut.

Members of the Committee wanted to know what revenue figures SAQA is planning to realise besides the huge reliance on the government grant. It would be essential to know whether there will be any programmes that need to be cut back and the impact it will have. The committee was worried that both SAQA and the QCTO are not making enough efforts to find revenue elsewhere. 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone present in the committee meeting. She laid out the agenda of the meeting which included presentations on the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plans of both the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations and the South African Qualifications Authority.

Opening Remarks by Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)

Dr Tholsia Naidoo, Deputy Chairperson, QCTO, introduced her delegation. She apologised for the absence of the Chairperson of the QCTO after being given a stern warning by the committee Chairperson. Dr Naidoo informed members of the mandate that the QCTO carries, by taking centre stage in driving youth employment and upskilling for a better economy. Quality Assurance is also a significant part of the mandate in bringing back the trust and credibility of the system especially with occupation qualifications.

In meeting quality assurance, the council needs to be very responsive to the workplace as well as meeting the demand of qualifications by looking further into the qualifications sub-framework. In doing that the National Mandate is also fulfilled. The organisation has decided to focus on the importance of delivering the mandate by relooking at its functions, since over the past years it has faced strain in trying to manage the increasing demand for the qualifications. An invitation has been sent to meet with the Minister of Higher Education, Naledi Grace Pandor, in helping to bring the mandate together. The aim of the meeting was then to champion the projects that the QCTO has taken in terms of meeting its mandate.

Briefing by Quality Council for Trades and Occupations

Mr Vijayen Naidoo, CEO, QCTO, explained that the Strategic Plan of 2015/16- 2019/20 was not the amended plan that is currently in place. This is because the outcomes and goals as in the Strategic Plan of 2015/16 are sufficiently broad enough to allow the OCTO to work in that context. Currently, one of the strategic outcomes includes having competent people in priority trades and occupation to add to the creation of a skilled workforce and employment opportunities. Another outcome seeks to create a sustainable organisation by having the necessary management system.

In terms of the Strategic Plan, the organisation has established three programmes. Programme one relates to Administration which ensures that the QCTO performs through strategic leadership and reliable delivery. Programme two, Occupational Qualifications, speaks to the development and accreditation of occupation qualifications and ensures the credibility of providers. Programme three, Quality Assurance, looks at the standard of the assessments. These three programmes were said to be sufficient to satisfy the organisation’s model for standards. It was emphasized that the QCTO is now responsible for Quality Assurance which now defines the current scope of the organisation. The QCTO wants to respond to the National Development Plan in improving the quality of education. It seeks ministerial guidelines in giving directions, and prioritizes skills by adopting the National Skills Development Strategy.

The organisation is under the process of reviewing the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF) in order to develop, most importantly, part qualifications. This will help to deal with the skills programme that is currently registered. At the moment the QCTO is working with two quality assurance systems: Historically Registered Qualifications and Occupational Qualifications. The aim is to align the two and bring them under one National System. What the QCTO wants to achieve under its Vision for 2020 is the Strategy of revoking all Quality Assurance functions delegated to the SETAs. The organisation tends to work closely together with the SETAs in order to deal with funding issues concerning Quality Assurance. Currently the implementation of this has not been successful, however it still remains on their agenda. Under Vision 2020, the QCTO will establish four major areas to work in, including accrediting Skills Development Providers and maintaining a single database which is currently in place. QCTO is also be responsible for assessments and the approval of learner results.

Relating to funding the QCTO receives a SETA Levy Grant, an allocation from the Fiscus and the rendered service charges, however it is inadequate to execute the full Quality Assurance mandate laid out in Vison 2020. As a result, the QCTO has developed a Business Case which indicates the funding requirements. The Business Case was discussed and submitted to the department but is pending approval.

Mr Naidoo went through the key performance indicators of the three programmes. Under the Administration Program, the overall support systems have been approved and implemented. The Occupational Qualifications Programme has indicated that 88% of skills development providers offered accreditation within the turnaround time and it has established bringing historically registered qualifications on board. The Quality Assurance program has a number of new performance indicators including the percentage of assessment centre accreditation applications and the assessment of historically registered qualifications. What is also important is the issuing of certificates for historical registered qualifications.

Ms Ndhivudzannyi Madilonga, Chief Director: Corporate Services and CFO, QCTO, presented the Revenue and Expenditure budget that allows for the QCTO’s mandate to be met. The budget ensures that the organisation’s spending is in line with what is intended. In terms of the revenue, the QCTO has seen a growth, with a heavy reliance on the SETA grant that takes up most of the budget. The QCTO’s expenditure per programme is exactly the same as the revenue budget with no deficit nor surplus. The amount for the administration programme is higher because the main goods and services are centralized here. The other two Programmes focus on the mandate and personal costs related to it. The Expenditure per classification has increased year by year with compensation costs increasing by R10 m because of salary inflation and the implementation of the Vision 2020. There is a slight increase by 10% because of national inflation. The capital expenditure is also expected to rise by 1%.

Briefing by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

Dr Vuyelwa Penxa, Chairperson, SAQA, began by introducing her delegation and took the opportunity of congratulating their first young black CFO Ms Precious Mbingo. She shared a quote from the late Nelson Mandela which highlighted the aims of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). 

Mr Joe Samuels, CEO, SAQA, said that over the last 3 years the organisation has published 14 NQF Policies, produced an NQF Articulation Baseline Study and Impact Study. It has also developed a common language, 961 qualifications and 129 designations, verified and evaluated national and foreign qualifications. SAQA has started a pilot project of distributing the certificate of evaluation electronically. This is to ensure a speedy process and to reduce fraud. Over the last five years, the number of SAQA black African staff has increased, however its senior management has decreased. Women in senior staff have increased.

Ms Julie Reddy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, SAQA, looked at the Annual Performance Plan 2018/19 which focuses on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Articulation, Simplification, Advocacy and Genuine Qualifications. SAQA seeks to implement the NQF by de-registering qualifications with no learner uptake. It also seeks to ensure genuine qualifications by verifying and evaluating them and also establishing a working relationship with the Department of Justice (DOJ). SAQA is working on developing a new Articulation Plan and it is implementing the current Articulation Policy. The organisation’s activity for the last few years has been to grow its international footprint with numerous requests from the international community. Most importantly SAQA wants to update its Succession Plan in order to strengthen the organisation.

Ms Nireen Naidoo, Director, SAQA, presented on the risks that the organisation faces including an insufficient budget to support the mandate.  SAQA faces an inability to reach revenue targets. It is limited in what it can give to stakeholders due to the small amount of resources. SAQA is named as a respondent in cases brought before the courts and that damages its reputation.

Ms Precious Mbingo, CFO, SAQA, discussed the financial situation with greater detail. Currently 60% of SAQA’s income comes from the government grant, however this figure is expected to decline over the next five years. The government grant is not enough to cover personnel costs or capital expenditure which puts pressure on the organisation to charge the public higher costs. The major financial challenges are outstanding government debtors, the two million rand budget cut and the maintenance and repairs of the building.


Ms J Kilian (ANC) asked SAQA for clarity about its revenue in terms of the exact figures that were budgeted apart from the government grant in 2018/19. The committee must know that SAQA is not budgeting for a deficit and with the two million rand budget cut. She wanted to know what revenue figures SAQA are planning to realise. With the budget already under pressure, she asked whether the added convention that was approved would have any financial impact. If no further funding is given to the organisation, what programmes would have to be cut back? Ms Kilian commended the QCTO for their good presentation but was concerned that the need of a revised curriculum was not moving fast enough. The Annual Performance Plan does not contain achievements concerning this and she asked whether OCTO are on top of things.

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said that some of the entities, along with the department are lacking in communication and this was deeply concerning. He said it is clear that these entities cannot afford this quality education. There is simply not enough funding for the many initiatives that are introduced. He is yet to hear how entities will seek to do more with less money. He added that every country has its own Qualifications Framework but there is no internationalisation of these various frameworks. By doing this he believes it will aid in cutting costs. When looking at South Africa’s economy and demographic it should suggest having a fast growing number of people being trained but this is not the case. More money is being pumped into these entities but less is being spend on the ground. South Africa was a quality education system but this is not being reflected in the Annual Performance Plans.

Mr C Kekana (ANC) sought to correct the misconceptions about the education system. The issue of inferior education has been present long before the Nation’s democracy and the challenge now is to close the huge gap that was created. South Africans themselves are responsible for trying to internationalise to a high quality education system.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) wanted to know how much is owed to SAQA by the outstanding government debtors as well as the steps that have been taken to ensure payment of these debts. She urged SAQA to send a list of these government debtors to the portfolio committee. She expressed her excitement for the RPL plans and what it means for Parliament. Many people are very skilled but lack the qualification. She asked what level of qualifications were achieved through the RPL and under which sub-framework of the NQF. She asked if there is a way to rationalise the simplification of the NQF under a single unit.

The Chairperson of the Committee said that Parliament is prepared to engage with the department on its finances. She noted that the two entities’ incomes do not come soley from Parliament and asked what other efforts are being made to get revenue from elsewhere. Both SAQA and QCTO have presented good presentations on their achievements but wanted to know what the organisations were not able to achieve as well as the impact it has on the overall objectives of government. The efforts of QCTO and SAQA should be focused on enhancing productivity and competitiveness. Whatever they do must assist people to be self-employed. She also asked whether entities were able to delegate some of their programmes as a means of cutting costs.

The Chairperson asked QCTO and SAQA to communicate all their responses of the discussion questions in written form to the portfolio committee. She asked that closing remarks be given from both organisations.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Higher Education and training (DHET), said the Department will deal with any additional requests from entities according to the budgets.

Mr Samuels said that SAQA always presents a balanced budget and in order to deal with the reduced government grant, they charge customers for services. The problem is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to do that. In the past SAQA’s Annual Performance Plan did present on what could not be achieved however the department previously said not to include it.

Mr Naidoo said the current model that the QCTO is working on is a delegated one. Those delegated activities require funds which QCTO does not have. That is why there is a need to revoke those delegated functions. The QCTO is not asking for more funds, but a re-allocation of funds. 

Ms Kilian said that Parliament cannot adopt these Annual Performance Plans if entities are unable to fund them. It becomes difficult to hold them accountable without a fully funded mandate and that is of concern.

The Chairperson said the committee will have its own engagement to further discuss the meeting's presentations.

The meeting was adjourned.    


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