SAQA on Post-School Education & Training implementation; National Qualifications Framework simplification; underfunding

Higher Education, Science and Technology

29 August 2018
Chairperson: Mr C Kekana (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

SAQA briefed the Committee on the implementation of articulation in the post-school education and training sector and simplification of the National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF), and provided a progress report on addressing the under-funding challenges.

SAQA said that the types of articulation were systemic, specific and individual articulation. The policy had identified the following barriers to articulation:

  • Academic qualifications were considered more credible than vocational or occupational qualifications;
  • Perceptions around the purpose and nature of technical and vocational education and training;
  • Absence of robust articulation arrangements;
  • “Dead end” qualifications;
  • Inadequate coherence between sub-frameworks; and
  • Lack of institutional flexibility to support learners.

Articulation management challenges included student support; work placement matters; resources; Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college relationships with higher education institutions (HEIs); HEIs’ lack of understanding/attitudes towards colleges; and c

The meaning of the simplification of the NQF was:

  • Clarifying communication concepts in understandable and appropriate language;
  • Eliminating red-tape from policies and processes;
  • Preventing unnecessary duplication and proliferation of qualifications;
  • Correctly allocating qualification to sub-frameworks; and
  • Identifying systemic gaps and addressing them.

Members expressed some concern about the implementation of articulation, asserting that students were being disadvantaged by this. There was no body to ensure that the qualifications were ready for articulation. It was suggested that articulation could be better achieved through changing the curricula at TVET colleges as opposed to changing the system through workshops and persuasion.

The Kgalema Motlanthe report was also put forward for the SAQA and the DHET to consider. The report dealt particularly with how the TVET college sector could be improved.

Members encouraged the DHET and SAQA to address concerns with regard to professional councils. They said that the private sector should be included, because there were major concerns in the workplaces in respect of TVET college qualifications. The DHET agreed that SAQA needed to have a firmer hand with the professional bodies, and that empirical evidence was needed in order to address the concerns raised.

It was acknowledged that resource constraints were putting pressure on the system. The demands on SAQA were increasing, but there were no resources to meet them. The DHET encouraged donor funding to address the immediate concerns, while conceding that this would not be sustainable in the long term.

Meeting report

South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA): Briefing

Mr Joe Samuels, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), presented the brief and stated that their presentation would cover three topics: articulation; simplification of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF); and financial challenges. The basis of the presentation was to follow-up from the previous meeting.

In terms of the NQF Act, SAQA was responsible for:

  • providing leadership in terms of the overseeing and implementation of the NQF;
  • coordinating the three sub-frameworks that make up the NQF;
  • recognising professional bodies;
  • developing a policing criteria in terms of the Act;
  • registering professional designations; and
  • registering qualifications.

A database of the above was kept.

The Act further stipulates that:

  • SAQA verifies national qualifications. There was a directive from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), where there were high levels of appointments being done, to verify the national qualifications of those individuals.
  • SAQA was responsible for evaluating foreign qualifications for people who wanted to have a foreign qualification. The qualifications of South Africans who had studied abroad were also evaluated, and then placed on the NQF.
  • SAQA was to do research as to the impact of the NQF.
  • SAQA had an international liaison directorate that dealt with international best practice and benchmarking. It liaisons with NQFs around the world.
  • SAQA was to do advocacy work around the NQF and to provide information.

Articulation

Mr Samuels presented on the articulation topic, and said that the types of articulation were systemic, specific and individual articulation. The articulation policy identified the following barriers to articulation:

  • Academic qualifications considered more credible than vocational or occupational qualifications;
  • Perceptions around the purpose and nature of technical and vocational education and training;
  • Absence of robust articulation arrangements;
  • “Dead end” qualifications;
  • Inadequate coherence between sub-frameworks; and
  • Lack of institutional flexibility to support learners

The Articulation Baseline Study reported that articulation management challenges were:

  • Student support and student matters;
  • Work placement matters;
  • Resources;
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college relationships with higher education institutions (HEIs); HEIs’ lack of understanding/attitudes towards colleges; epistemic (knowledge-related) injustices;
  • Institutional systems and structures;
  • Curriculum matters between colleges and HEIs.

Simplification

Ms Nireen Naidoo, Director: Office of the CEO, SAQA, presented on the Simplification of the NQF topic. She said that the meaning of the simplification of the NQF was:

  • Clarifying communication concepts in understandable and appropriate language
  • Eliminating red-tape from policies and processes
  • Preventing unnecessary duplication and proliferation of qualifications
  • Correctly allocating qualification to Sub-Frameworks
  • Identifying systemic gaps and addressing them

Financial challenges

Mr Samuels presented on the topic of challenges with funding. He provided feedback on the meeting held with the Minister of Higher Education and Training (refer to document). He further outlined SAQA’s responses to questions raised by the Committee (refer to document).

Discussion

The Chairperson said that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) would help SAQA respond to questions

Mr M Wolmarans (ANC) asked the Chairperson to let the DHET express its view on SAQA’s presentation, and then allow Members to comment and ask questions.  

The Chairperson said that the rationale was to make the discussion participatory and after it, the DHET would be given time to respond.

Dr B Bozzoli (DA) said TVET colleges and universities were two systems which were never designed to articulate and SAQA’s way of trying to make them articulate through persuasion, workshops and interventions, was a measure that was not going to make any significant difference. This would only work if the two systems, particularly the colleges, changed their syllabus and their admissions. The syllabus was in the control of the DHET, and not SAQA. It seemed as though there was a mission creep by SAQA by engaging in a lot of things that were not part of their job but that of the DHET. Also, SAQA did not have money.

If one looked at the number of people where real articulation was working, this was not in terms of moving a TVET college from one qualification to another, which was not articulation; serious articulation was moving from a college to a university, and the numbers there were minuscule, and they were going to remain minuscule until something changed in the TVET colleges. The colleges were never designed to articulate with universities -- they did not admit students who had the potential for university, and their syllabus was outdated anyway and was being revised. She wondered whether this was a ‘feel-good’ thing to have on their agenda.

She was very taken with the Taiwanese model, where they have full articulation from technical schools, to technical colleges, to technical universities. It was a well defined pathway that the student could take. However, that was at the design level, not at a “let us have a workshop” level. Unless they looked seriously at the design of the college system, what they were doing was not going to produce significant results.

There was a little bit of irony in what SAQA was doing, because on the one hand they wanted to make college qualifications more valuable, but on the other hand they were trying to make it possible to move from a college to a university, implying that they were not that valuable and one should go to a university. Nevertheless, it was very important that there be a pathway for students, so as not to get stuck.

How much money was being spent on this articulation effort, and would it not be better spent simply exercising their endorsement of courses as being articulate-ready? By that, they would simply be building articulation into the system, rather than in the degree. It was not certain whether students even knew that the courses they were doing were deemed to be articulate by SAQA -- they probably did not. The system they seem to have already embarked on would be a better choice than persuasion.

Ms J Kilian (ANC) said that she differed quite significantly from the notion that the systems were never designed to articulate. It was a system and framework that had been inherited, and the aim was to adjust it and to have articulation. She asked whether, in terms of the simplification of the NQF, apart from de-registering and re-registering, the intention was not to say that there was no real significant uptake for specific qualifications and there needed to be adjustments; and who was to fulfil that role? That had been a moving target all along, and they had been battling with it for four years. There had not been a body taking the initiative to ensure that the qualifications met the requirements for further articulation.

Part of the problem was that there were no serious agreements and commitments between institutions, and it was not only between universities and colleges, but also between universities. It was a matter that needed to be addressed. As much as universities were institutions with academic independence, they remained public institutions, to which the public pay quite significant contributions, and could direct them into action with other institutions. If necessary, it must be captured into policy, legislation or regulation.

SAQA was finding funding difficult, as all public service institutions were, because the budget cuts were across the board. There was no specific targeting of SAQA, and their important role was not underestimated. While the Committee had tried to motivate for further financial resources in institutions, there had been no movement to support that call due to economic constraints. All public entities had to accept what they received and make it work.

She was not convinced that advocating advancement, articulation and moving students into the right path of study, was SAQA’s role. There was a significant role for the Department of Basic Education (DBE), but it was something that the DHET should not steer away from. More effort must be made. Early Childhood Development (ECD) would play a significant role, but the problem was that learners from disadvantaged backgrounds did not have exposure to career choices and there was a role for the DBE and arguably the post-school system. There was inadequate learning support and inadequate direction of learners to make adequate subject choices that would open up further learning opportunities for them. The role that SAQA was playing was understood and appreciated.

SAQA had been given a specific responsibility in the public service after the Public Service Commission (PSC) had instructed it to look at qualifications in the public sector; and there was information stating that SAQA had been awarded specific funding for that exercise. She asked whether they could confirm or deny this.

The high level panel assessment was the 600-page Kgalema Motlanthe panel report, which was available on the internet and was quite a significant piece of work that should be considered by the SAQA Board.

If they were implementing the presentation of qualifications currently, was the responsibility to keep a register going to be a significant burden, or was it something that could be done through proper information technology (IT) systems? As we were moving into the fourth industrial revolution, was it something that could be managed? Once they had identified the qualification, it immediately went on to the register so that people could identify misrepresented qualifications and could report that to the police. This was another matter, considering how poorly the Hawks had performed recently. They must root this out, because it was devaluing qualifications.

Mr R Mavunda (ANC) referred to enabler number 2, which had different structures that were placed around the roles of other entities. Did SAQA not think that community-based organisations could fall under that organisational structure?  They played a vital role in communities, especially in the rural areas.

In relation to de-registration of qualifications, what happened in circumstances where someone had already qualified and the qualification became de-registered and was no longer relevant? What happened to that person and their qualification? What informed an institution to de-register a qualification?

He said that he was studying Public Administration through the University of South Africa (UNISA), and had been informed that he could no longer continue with that qualification because it was outdated. He wondered what was to happen with all the courses he had already completed. There was little information on what was to be done when a qualification was de-registered.

Ms H Bucwa (DA) enquired how SAQA could ensure that that articulation was effective, while also being cognisant of not perpetuating the perception that TVET colleges were secondary. How would they inform the institutions of the recognition and criteria to ensure that a qualification was still relevant? How could they adequately bring that information to students?

There was a case of about one hundred students in Port Elizabeth who had been informed in their final year that their qualification was no longer recognised. They had lost three years of their lives studying for nothing. What was an effective method that could be used, even by the Members in their constituencies, to adequately inform students?

Regarding the legal fees, it was good to want to have a fund, but what reasonable measures had been taken to ensure that there was internal capacity to curb the challenges? They got charged in terms of accreditation, professional bodies and registration. What had been done to ensure that these challenges were addressed, instead of trying to get funding for them?

The Chairperson asked what the meaning of ‘foreign’ was, in the context of ‘foreign qualifications.’ Did it include first world countries and universities outside of Africa, such as Oxford University?

With regard to the articulation matter, one would expect that a lot of TVET colleges by nature must be practical, and one could not imagine students from there wanting to advance to a university which was more theoretical. There could, however, be students who were exceptions to this and were very good with theory and actually matched the university standard. Did major concerns like language affect articulation? They would have to look at whether the language matched the quality of requirements.

He asked the DHET what interventions or recommendations had been made by the Kgalema Motlanthe report?

DHET’s Response

Dr Shirley Lloyd, Director: NQF, DHET, said that the research conducted on articulation by SAQA was defined research. It had been within certain parameters and it presented a picture of the articulation between TVET college students to Universities of Technology (UOT). As a Department, they dealt with SAQA and the quality councils on a very regular basis in relation to other bigger systemic articulation matters. There were situations where professional bodies created barriers for a student to come through the TVET college system -- students who had achieved a National N-Diploma, which was at NQF level six -- and they did not want to continue to recognise them in professional capacities. An example was the Engineering Council of South Africa, which until recently recognised a TVET college route for professional engineering registration. They had now closed that route and did not recognise it. That was a bigger systemic matter, where one had a lot of people caught up in a dead-end. It was a matter where the Department, working with SAQA and the professional bodies, was trying to ensure that those kinds of bigger systemic issues were addressed.

Part of the issue, as pointed out by Dr Bozzoli, was the curriculum. If one looked at the construct of qualifications as they were registered on the NQF, they clearly had learning outcomes. What was needed now was to see how these learning outcomes could be aligned, how to bring some kind of alignment from a higher education qualification, with the exit level of a TVET college qualification. That was one of the ways that SAQA could ensure that the quality councils did that. They were cognisant that articulation was bigger than just turning TVETs into UOTs.

The other bigger area that had been mentioned was the perception. While it was theoretically known that the Minister had said that articulation should be allowed, the sub-framework -- particularly the Higher Education Sub-qualification Framework -- clearly states what articulation opportunities there were and it theoretically allowed for the TVET qualifications to articulate. However, in practice it was not happening.

The DHET had therefore urged SAQA, as per their opening brief, that they had an overarching role. SAQA had been urged to look at perhaps a stronger leadership role. They knew it was difficult, especially considering that SAQA had three quality councils that were independent, but they were asking SAQA to strengthen their hand in order to provide leadership and guidance around these articulations issues. So that when a council designed its qualifications, it was not just in theory but in practice, and that they actually encouraged the articulation to happen.

Another big barrier had been found in articulation challenges, and they want SAQA to provide further leadership and advise them in this area, which was that of the workplaces. They were seeing a significant pushback from the mining industry, as an example, which had decided for some strange reason that TVET college graduates who came through the old route for qualification as apprentices and artisans, that they do not want those people to be employed in the industry anymore. This was a serious articulation matter into good jobs, careers, and promotion.

The DHET was asking for assistance from SAQA beyond the research. They knew that when they ask people to do things, funding should follow, so they needed to look at how SAQA looked at its research projects and what the budgets for those would be, and if funding would be needed a clear business case could be made, for the greater good of the country’s citizens. Regarding articulation, they were very appreciative of the baseline study, the methodology etc, but there was a need to go further, collectively and collaboratively.

In terms of the simplification matter; a two-year study had recently been completed, in partnership with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), on the evaluation of the implementation of the NQF Act. There were 19 recommendations that flowed from that, which showed clear systemic challenges, and those would be coming through the cluster and eventually to the Cabinet. It showed that the current structure, construct, relationship and reporting lines were confused and created financial and reporting strains. Whilst the Ministerial guideline had set out the guidelines for simplification, the White Paper for post-school education and training in chapter nine, clearly spoke to simplification, and addressed the proliferation of qualifications.

The Department was concerned in that the Council on Higher Education (CHE) had set 31 December as the cut-off date for the alignment of all qualifications and the need for re-alignment. In the same breath, the CHE had stated that they did not know if they would be able meet their obligations due to a lack of funding. SAQA was the body that primarily had to look after the NQF and the greater good of individual taxpayers. The Department had significant concerns, and urged SAQA to assist in this regard. They recognised that SAQA was doing a really good job with the simplification - they get the reports -- but this was a particular concern.

These underpin some of the legal cases that were pending, where providers, private and public, say that they were worried, nothing was happening, time was going to run out and they were going to be disadvantaged. Simplification was more than just the proliferation of qualifications -- it also included clear reporting lines, simplifying systems, and removing duplication across the system. They were asking SAQA in this regard to have an improvement plan which sets out the Department’s timetable for it.

The DHET recognised that budgets were tight, and had indicated that to SAQA that they were pleased that donor funding could be considered as a short term measure for some of the items. They had asked SAQA to look at a sustainable five-year funding plan with the Department. The DHET was very committed, with the CFO, to tackle this issue, and wanted real facts and empirical evidence so as to come up with a very clear business plan that could be presented to the Committee.

SAQA’s response

Mr Samuels said that they had been unaware that this was the Motlanthe Report, and they would find it, read it and comment on it.

The suggestion about community-based organisations was a good one, and they would include them as well.

De-registration did not mean that the people with a de-registered qualification were out in the cold, because that qualification would always be on the national database. The system was designed in a manner where qualifications come and go. The fact that the NQF existed was a guarantee to the nation that those with de-registered qualifications were not forgotten. In the past, this register or depository did not exist.

Universities often notified students that a certain course would be phased out, and the students had to complete it in a certain period of time. Modules already completely could not be taken away, and that was acknowledged. There was a system that recorded all the modules completed. He suggested that Members send details of circumstances where students had been left out in the cold. If a university stated that a certain qualification was being phased out, they needed to provide guidance as where to go next, which route to take. There needed to be better communication lines around this matter.

With regard to articulation and whether it should be stopped, there were different systems with different purposes, and changes had to be made at the programme level. The articulation policy makes that point, and there were clear examples provided of where it had worked.

The Taiwanese model was interesting. China had a fantastic system too, and they had invited a number of people to see the model that they had developed. Institutions were built next to each other, and industries were linked. There were different models in the world and it was good to look to them. Articulation at a systemic level was the emphasis, and implementation of it on the ground was the challenge. The key thing was implementation on the ground.

SAQA operated at a policy level. A lot of concerns raised seem to be in terms of implementation. They had done their work, and policies were there. How could they ensure that policies were implemented in terms of monitoring and evaluation?

The question was, should SAQA be involved with advocacy? The Act stipulated that SAQA was to inform the public about the NQF. There would be a legislative injunction if now they were being told not to inform the public about theNQF. Maybe they should not call it advocacy, but rather refer to it as informing the public. They were not doing things that were not in the Act -- they were working within the realm of the Act.

SAQA evaluated all qualifications -- it did not matter which country or university they were from, whether it was Oxford or Cambridge. There was no discrimination between first-world and developing countries. They evaluated to see whether the qualification was recognised in the country of origin, whether the institution was authorised to award this qualification, and whether this qualification was given to this person. They evaluated the qualifications and universities without fear or favour.

They were dealing with the broader systemic issues as well. They focussed on these particular ones because the Minister was particularly concerned about them, and they had general issues.

If there were differing opinions about the definition of simplifications, then they were willing to have a discussion with the DHET about that. That was one of the reasons why they had the definition, so that people knew what they were referring to.

Regarding the CHE’s 31 December deadline, one of the things the NQF Amendment Bill did was to strengthen SAQA’s role. The Act required SAQA to develop policy and criteria and then, when the quality councils developed policies, they needed to consider them. The Act did not compel quality councils to consult SAQA about them -- they could formulate something and take it to the Minister directly. They had to be cognisant of the fact that quality councils had particular powers and rights, and they needed to work within that realm.

SAQA acknowledged the point about funding.

With regard to keeping a register, it was uncertain whether the Act was only requesting them to maintain a register. Maintaining one was a lot of work and was not a simple task -- they needed money to start it and to maintain it. Next week, they would discuss the difference between a register of misrepresented qualifications and a register of fraudulent qualifications. There was a particular reason for the difference -- there were legal considerations and a whole process that they needed to go through. The register would require a lot more resources.

Discussion

Mr Wolmarans said that the DHET’s response suggested that it had been engaging with the presentation already.

There were three identified issues between DHET and SAQA that he would like to check, according to the brief given. He assumed that the biggest challenge was the funding part. To some extent, that seemed to be sufficiently dealt with, and the DHET needed to apply their minds to it.

As the mandate of SAQA was being added to, seed funding had to be considered. When the funding had been made available, it could be brought to the Committee.

According to the brief, it seemed as though there were certain agreements and understandings that were solid, while others that had loose agreements with regard to articulation. This seemed to suggest that there was some direction. With regard to Enabler 3, in terms of collaboration, it was in the right direction to have agreements. He appreciated the work being done, but encouraged more engagement, particularly with the private sector. An example was the people at Impala Mines, who had been part and parcel of the TVET in Rustenburg. They were now losing their jobs, and their career paths had ended. There was a need for collaboration with the private sector in that regard, which was something that had been captured in the Enablers.

There had been a consultative conference which had come out with resolutions, and those resolutions spoke to what had been said in terms of advocacy, simplification and information.

Ms Kilian asked, if UNISA qualifications were no longer recognised for some or other peculiar reason, what the role of SAQA, the Council for Higher Education and the DHET was? This was clearly one of the articulation challenges faced. SAQA’s mandate was fairly wide and needed fine-tuning, because the interactions between SAQA and the quality councils were very important. There was a clear diagram of one reporting to the other, but did the quality councils see it like that? Was the Council for Higher Education willing to report on the interventions in UNISA? This was because the unsuspecting public were taking time to enrol and qualify, only to find that their qualifications were not recognised.

The Chairperson said that as a Portfolio Committee, their role was not just to ask questions but to make suggestions as well -- suggestions such as how best to solve the challenges. He asked whether Dr Bozzoli had any suggestions as to how TVET articulation could be properly aligned.

Dr Bozzoli said she did have a suggestion. The DHET was busy changing the curriculum of the TVET colleges, and she wondered how seriously they were taking the issue of articulation there. What should be happening, if they were serious, was that the new curricula should be done in collaboration with the same universities that were being asked to admit the students. This was so that the universities could look at the new curriculum and see what the students had done, to determine whether they could admit them to their course(s). A bigger structural thing needed to be done with the colleges, rather than the very time-consuming and possibly expensive and sort of emotional effort that SAQA was putting into persuasion, rather than structure.

Mr Mavunda said that the one thing that he had left out when commenting the first time around was with regard to the programme he had enrolled in at UNISA, where he had been told that the modules he had passed could not be carried over to another qualification. He understood that one was given a certain period of time to complete a module. Some people were slow learners and may not cope with the fast learning, and could get lost in between. They needed to be notified on the time factor, that this was how things should be. He appreciated the advice he had received from Mr Samuels.

Ms Bucwa suggested that maybe an interim legal framework between now and 31 December be drafted, to try and deal with some of the immediate challenges. She could make a written submission to SAQA.

She wanted clarity on Mr Samuels’ statement that they would respond to certain funding matters next week. Would they be coming back next week, or was he referring to written responses to those questions?

The Chairperson expressed his concern over the fact that the Engineering Council of South Africa did not recognise certain qualifications and had other policy concerns, such as gender issues, like stating that women were not fit to be engineers. These were big issues that had been debated by the media, even more than by the Committee who, according to government, were given the responsibility to ensure that those prejudices did not prevail. Were the DHET and SAQA able to advocate and influence the changes that must take place in such institutions when matters of qualifications were raised? How far were they able to influence changes in very important institutions such as the Engineering Council?

DHET’s Response

Adv Eben Boshoff, Chief Director: Legal Services, DHET, said that the matter of the statement from the Engineering Council needed to be addressed and was under consideration, but they had not yet engaged with them. They also needed advice and direction from the Minister when dealing with it.

Dr LLoyd emphasised the need for empirically-based evidence that informed decisions and assumptions that informed decisions. The Engineering Council’s statement was not empirically-based evidence. It was a sense they had that the quality of teaching and learning in TVET colleges had dropped. The Council had also written that they were not 100% sure whether the students exiting their N-6 and going into their 24-month practical were sufficiently monitored and assessed. Based on what they thought was happening, they had stopped registering these students. Everything they said might be correct, but empirical evidence, research and examples were needed. The erstwhile Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, had been very clear about requesting SAQA to remove what he called hindrances and barriers from professional bodies. This was one of those elements.

SAQA’s response

Mr Samuels referred to the question of whether the quality councils accepted the role that SAQA was playing, in terms of the Act, that they needed to coordinate the sub-frameworks. The management of the sub-frameworks was the responsibility of the quality councils. The way that they were doing the coordination was that they had a meeting of the CEO Committee, which consisted of SAQA, the quality councils and the NQF Steering Committee, consisting of the DHET and DBE. They had reported on the sub-committees they had formed. They also tracked what was happening in terms of implementation. If there any particular issues, they tried to deal with them.

There was also a set of regulations on how to deal with conflict, which the DHET had put in place. On top of that, they had created a system of collaboration so that the focus was not to try and solve conflict when it was there, but rather to be proactive and try to prevent the conflict from occurring. There were structures in place to prevent the problem from arising. If there was conflict between quality councils, the regulations allowed SAQA to intervene and try to sort it out. There were three stages, and the final stage was to set up arbitration. Similarly, if there was conflict between SAQA and a quality council, then Department was meant to intervene. SAQA had to act within the Act’s ambit, and there were certain things that they could not do. An example was the 31 December decision. The CHE had stated that the Act required them to do a presentation. They had been unable to do that because they did not have the resources. They would like to ensure that people and institutions worked towards the 31 December deadline. The decision of that date had been declared by the Minister when the CHE had put forward a document to that effect. There were no resources, and now the DHET was telling SAQA to deal with the matter.

They intended to follow up on the responses and go into greater detail at the hearing of the NQF Amendment Bill next week.

Regarding the legal costs matter, they were removing the underlying causes. There were some things that they could remove and others that they could not. They could not make changes in legislation, but they could make proposals. When they discussed the Bill next week, they would make proposals that there needed to be clarity in terms of accreditation.  As SAQA, they tried to make sure that they did things according to the law, process things properly and answer questions etc.

There was also the evaluation function but the professional body, the Health Professions Council, had a similar responsibility, where they could evaluate qualifications and they could allocate and recognise a qualification, whole or in part, equivalent to a South African qualification. That was in the Act, and could not be changed by SAQA.

Prof Sarah Howie, Deputy Chairperson of the Board, SAQA, prefaced her remarks by saying she had been involved with the quality of education for 25 years. The comments about the TVET college sector and the concerns raised by the Engineering Council warranted a very close look at what had been happening. She had seen empirical evidence regarding the quality of examinations and the quality of the implementation of those examinations -- in fact, the marks themselves -- which showed a decline at times for the same examination. The DHET was encouraged to look at the data that they had and call for a deeper analysis, because there may be some truth to the concerns raised about quality.

The Board had been really concerned at how resources were being stretched and overstretched, and the demands being put on the SAQA staff. The current resource constraints and the budget cuts, at a time when in fact a motivation for an increase was warranted, had really put pressure on the system. A considerable amount of resources needed to be invested if the system was to work. How the universities were relying on SAQA in this regard was really a concern, considering the resources were not available.  The call would be to come and have a good look at the areas that SAQA was prioritising and had prioritised, and to go back and say that in view of the fact that no money was coming, where were the priorities going to lie? The staff could not carry on carrying that load, so something had to give, and it could not be quality.

The Chairperson said that the Kgalema Motlanthe report particularly looked into the TVET systems, and had called on TVET experts to advise them about how it could be changed. What was the DHET’s response to this?

DHET’s response

Dr Lloyd said that none of her colleagues from the Department had seen the report but they would get hold of it, read it and respond to it.

The Department viewed SAQA as an apex body, and took very seriously the statement in the White Paper for Post-schooling and Training in chapter nine, which states that the NQF overarches the entire education and training system of South Africa. The next sentence had been taken very seriously, as it states that SAQA was the body to ensure further development and implementation. They also recognised the resource constraints, and had made a commitment to working on the plan with the office of the CFO. They were committed to looking at donor funding in the short term. They recognised that this was not sustainable, but it would at least assist in setting up certain systems and structures. They had that commitment from the Department. They had support at every possible point of legal services to interrogate and look, and to provide the required legal counsel.

The Department appreciated SAQA, but they performed a monitoring and evaluation role and were not apologetic where they had to request SAQA or the quality councils to align themselves with how the Minister viewed their concerns. The Department encouraged them to provide their fullest support to the Ministerial guidelines and the implementation thereof, to make sure that the system works. This was because when the Minister published them, she was publishing what she viewed as governmental strategic imperatives and priorities for the NQF system.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Killian for pointing out the Kgalema Motlanthe report.

The meeting was adjourned.

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