National Qualifications Amendment Bill: finalisation

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

14 November 2018
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued its consideration and deliberations on the National Qualification Framework Amendment Bill [B20-2018] A and B-lists.

It adopted the A-list with no amendments, and the B-list with a few amendments. It adopted clauses 2, 3 , 4, 5 and 6 without any amendments, and amended sub-clauses 1 (b) (c) and sub-clause 1 (a) (a) (ii) substantively, and merged them into the A-list.

It finally adopted the NQF Amendment Bill with the amendments, recording the minority view of the DA about the undesirability of the whole bill and its onerous nature and risk, as it depended on a national learners’ database managed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and it was not convinced of the Department’s capacity to administer it.


Meeting report

National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill [B20-2018] [A-list]

The Chairperson directed Members to the latest draft bill amendments in the A-List, saying that she would go through the document clause by clause with the Committee.

Ms D Kilian (ANC) said the Committee had been emailed an A-list, but were also provided with a physical copy on arrival for the meeting, and asked whether any changes had been made to the mailed version. Would the process to go through the A-list first, or the draft bill as had been introduced?

Ms D Kekana (ANC) also seemed to be lost.

The Chairperson pointing Members to the A-list as the first document. The emailed A-list list was the same document before the Committee; it had been circulated ordinarily for printing as well. She then proceeded to the clauses.

Clause 4

Ms Aadilah Arnold, State Law Advisor, noted an error in clause 4 (1) (b), sub-paragraph (t), where a grammatical correction needed to be effected.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) wanted clarity in line 39 of the A-list -- whether to keep the punctuation mark as it was, or if it would make better sense to remove it.

Dr B Bozzoli (DA) said the DA did not support the substitution of clause 32 (a), although it agreed with deletion of the clause before the substituted one.

Ms Kilian noted a typing error in sub-clause (6) of the new clause 32 (b).

Adv Eben Boshoff, Legal Advisor, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), said the error Ms Kilian had found had been corrected in the printed version of the A-list.

Ms Kilian said that had been her earlier concern with the emailed A-list versus the printed version given to the Committee on arrival at the meeting.

The Chairperson apologised for the inconsistencies.

National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill [B20-2018] B-list

Amendment of section 1 of Act 67 of 2008, as amended by section 8 of Act 26 of 2010

Mr P van der Westhuizen (DA) asked why Department of Basic Education (DBE) schools were being excluded when defining foreign institutions in the draft NQF Amendment bill under review.

Adv Boshoff replied that the NQF amendment was directed at post-basic education, and basic education was part of the NQF sub-framework as part of General and Further Education and Training (GFET). Foreign institutions in the amendment would therefore have implications for foreign schools as well.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said that probably many learners from foreign schools would want to read further in South Africa (SA), and it would be best for the government to specify that educational institutions also had to assess whether the people who applied for study possessed the required qualifications for further learning and training.

Ms Kilian said that she supported the indication from the DHET that the NQF amendment included at that point the provision that referred to the relevant Act, as that was part of their work to ensure the NQF was recognised.

Adv Boshoff said there was no definition in the Schools Act for a ‘foreign institution’ or ‘foreign school,’ whereas the definition under discussion was for a definition for post-school education in the NQF amendment which was being considered by the Committee. ‘Foreign institution’ was defined as per the B-list in the Higher Education Act and Continuing Education and Training Act, respectively. Probably needing insertion in the NQF was the definition of ‘independent school’ as provided for in the Schools Act. He then proposed the draft wording for sub-clause 1 (c) in the B-list.

The Chairperson interjected that the Committee had agreed that the drafters had to fix the sub-clause, but had to return to the A-list. He asked if the drafters required a moment to craft the provision, as she was cautious about moving on to the B-list if the amendment proposed by Adv Boshoff belonged to the A-list.

Ms Mchunu asked that as the Committee would pause to allow the drafters a moment to verify and craft the provision, that they should check whether ‘independent schools’ did not refer to ‘private schools.’

Ms Kilian proposed that as the provision was being drafted, section 29 of the SA constitution had to be referenced since it spoke to all educational institutions which were not public institutions.

Mr Kekana said there were independent colleges that were not privately owned, but independent of government, and therefore those considerations had to be included when referring to ‘independent’.

The Chairperson allowed the Committee to break for the legal advisors to craft the provisions.

At the resumption of proceedings, the Chairperson requested the drafters to update the Committee.

Adv Boshoff said he had had a discussion with the Deputy Minister (DM) of Basic Education during the break, and the DM had said the DBE had no issue with the insertion of ‘foreign school,’ although there was no definition in the other pieces of law in the NQF amendment. However, as the drafters, they had reviewed the definition of ‘authentic’ which was at the heart of the problem, and which the amendment sought to address. The drafters had amended the definition to read: ‘a foreign institution means a foreign juristic person offering an authentic qualification or part-qualification’. Read with the definition of ‘authenticity,’ that would then cover the Committee’s concerns.

The Chairperson asked the Committee whether the proposal from the drafters was acceptable or not.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said that with some qualifications, the school was simply the medium for the instruction, but the qualification would be issued by a Qualifications Council (QC) in another country. Therefore he was uncertain about the legal applicability and fairness of sub-clause 1 (a) (a) (iii) of the B-list.

Dr Bozzoli believed that ‘foreign juristic person,’ as per sub-clause 1 (b) (c), covered Mr Van der Westhuizen’s concern, in that it spoke to a school or a QC in a foreign country.

Ms Mchunu said she was satisfied with the amendments proposed by the drafters.

Ms Kilian was also satisfied with the proposal, which would be captured in the A-list.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said his problem was with the term ‘offer’ in sub-clause 1 (a) (a) (ii), as UMALUSI did not offer qualifications, but certified and issued them instead.

Ms Arnold said the A-list would be amended as per the Committee’s request, and read out the amendment that would be inserted in the A-list.

Ms Kilian asked whether ‘offering’ or issuing’ of a qualification would have any legally limiting effect on the implementation of the NQF amendment.

Ms Arnold replied that her understanding was that the training would be provide by an education institution, and therefore it would be offering a qualification but not issuing it.

Dr Shirley Lloyd, Director: NQF Directorate, DHET, added that the institution usually offered the learning programme or qualification to the QC, and then issued a certificate based on that offering. A QC would never offer education and training in a teaching and learning environment.

The Chairperson asked the drafters to repeat the proposed amendment.

Ms Arnold read: ‘a foreign institution means a foreign juristic person offering or issuing an authentic qualification or part-qualification’.

The Committee agreed with the amendment.

The Chairperson said that seeing the Committee had agreed and adopted the A-list, it would then combine the B-list amendments with those in the A-list.

Ms Kilian proposed adoption of clause 1 of the B-list, as already noted with the amendments above.

Ms Mchunu seconded the adoption.

The Committee also adopted clauses 2 and 3 of the B-list without amendments. Similarly, clauses 4, 5 and 6 were adopted without any new amendments.

Insertion of section 32A and 32B in Act 67 of 2008

Referral of a qualification or part-qualification to SAQA for verification and evaluation

Ms Mchunu moved to adopt the amendments of clause 7.

Dr Bozzoli asked that the objection of the DA be noted on the amended clause 7.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said he needed clarity, and gave an analogy of a principal of a school who would have a file of CV’s for job applications, and who would have to quickly find a replacement when one teacher suddenly fell ill. Would he be able to appoint a stand-in teacher, or would he first be required to go to SAQA to authenticate the potential stand-in teacher’s qualifications?

Ms Mchunu said that all teachers in SA were registered with the South African Council of Educators (SACE), which would have verified a substitute teacher’s qualification and issued a certificate to that effect. There were reserve teachers for such a situation.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said the way clause 7 read, no employer could appoint unless the employer had checked the National Learners’ Database.

Adv Boshoff said the stand-in teacher could, in the presence of the principal, do a search on SAQA’s database to receive an instantaneous authentication response. If the response indicated problems with authentication, then SAQA would need to intervene.

The Chairperson noted the objection of the DA to clause 7 of the B-list.

The Committee adopted the NQF amendment Bill with amendments, with the DA reserving its right to adopt.

The Chairperson requested that the legal advisors from Parliament, the state law advisers and the DHET to ensure that all the amendments were done accordingly, and to update the Committee should any changes be needed.

She said there was report of the Committee on the NQF amendment which was still needed to be considered for adoption as well.

Dr Bozzoli said the minority view was that the DA was quite worried by the passage of the NQF Amendment Bill because of the imposition it would place on employers, institutions, and any other person bound by it. Given the DHET’s history, and the future complexity and risk of making an Act dependent on a database managed by the DHET, the DA was not convinced of the Department’s capacity to manage it.

Ms Kilian suggested the Committee could meet at a future date to consider the report on the NQF amendment bill it had just adopted, and since there would be a debate on the bill in the Chamber; the report which she was referring to would explain what amendments the Committee had made, including the minority view which Dr Bozzoli had just submitted.

Mr Van der Westhuizen referred to Parliaments’ National Assembly rules, noting that a minority view had to be captured in the Committee’s report.

The Chairperson said that what Mr Van der Westhuizen had just said was not in question, and the Committee had agreed. The Committee would reconvene to consider its report on the bill.

She thanked the Committee for the work it had completed in finalising the bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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