The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) appeared before the Select Committee on Education and Recreation to give responses to written submissions from external organizations pertaining to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Bill. These organizations include Universities of South Africa (USAf), the South Africa Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), the Independent Institute of Education (IIE), UMALUSI, and Managed Integrity Evaluations (MIE).
The Department reported that although the changes proposed by these organizations were cosmetic in nature, they are not going to add any value at this point in time. Also, addressing these changes may cause more confusion. On clause 3(b), IIE had recommended the insertion of the definition of Private education institution “means an independent education institution registered and accredited in terms of the relevant law”. However DHET was of the view that it is not necessarily to define Private Education Institution since the NQF Act defines Education institution to mean “an education institution that is established, declared or registered by law”. The institutions registered by law are a reference to private education institutions and there is no confusion.
Members voted on the National Qualifications Framework Bill. Of the seven Members present, five supported the Bill and two opposed. The Chairperson said that the Bill will be accepted nonetheless and it will go to the House because it was voted for in a meeting where there was a quorum.
Presentation by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
Adv Eben Boshof, Chief Director: Legal and Legislative Services, DHET, briefed the Committee on the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill. The purpose of the presentation was to provide the Committee with the Department’s responses to the written submissions from external organizations pertaining to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Bill.
The Department responded to submissions by Universities South Africa (USAf), the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), Independent Institute of Education (IIE), UMALUSI, and Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE). Some of the submissions related to clauses 1(b), 3(b) and 4(e) (1A)
“Authenticity- in relation to a foreign qualification, means qualification or part-qualification that is lawfully obtained from a foreign country and is evaluated by the SAQA in terms of this Act.”
USAf proposed the replacement of the phrase in 1(b) with “was lawfully obtained in a foreign country and has been evaluated by the SAQA as a qualification or part-qualification that could be placed on the South African NQF.”
DHET, in response, believed the recommendation by USAf is not materially different to the existing clause it seeks to replace. A foreign qualification has to be verified first in order to ascertain its authenticity. Secondly, that foreign qualification has to be compared with the South African qualification for placement within the NQF. USAf had not pointed out the mischief it sought to address through the proposed substitution. The proposed amendment was immaterial.
“Every private education or skills development provider offering education and training programs or any component thereof towards a qualification or part- qualification, must be registered by the relevant Department as a private education institution or skill development provider and accredited by the relevant QC to offer such qualification or part- qualification.”
On clause 3(b), IIE recommended the insertion of the definition of Private education institution “means an independent education institution registered and accredited in terms of the relevant law”. However DHET was of the view that it is not necessarily to define Private Education Institution since the NQF Act defines Education institution to mean “an education institution that is established, declared or registered by law”. The institutions registered by law are a reference to private education institutions and there is no confusion.
Clause 4(e) (1A)
“When verifying or evaluating a qualification or part-qualification in terms of this Act, the SAQA must, amongst other things, consider whether the education institution, skills development provider or foreign institution is registered by law and whether the qualification or part-qualification is authentic and complies with the policy and criteria contemplated is section 13(1) (h)”
According to SAICA, the said verification or evaluation has to be done in consultation with the professional body/training provider in question to ensure that legacy qualifications and international partnerships are considered prior to a decision being taken. To this, the Department responded that SAQA provides for this type of consultation with the professional bodies.
The inputs by UMALUSI were not related to any specific clause. UMALUSI was of the view that the NQF Act is silent of the functions of the Minister of Basic Education. According to the NQF Act, as amended, the Minister has the overall executive responsibility for the QC for General and further Education and Training. In terms of the 2009 presidential proclamation, UMALUSI reports to the Minister of Basic Education and the NQF Act is silent on the role of this Minister.
The Department responded that in terms of section eight of the NQF Act, the Minister of Higher Education and Training has the overall executive responsibility for the NQF, SAQA and the QC for General and Further Education and Training, The QC for Higher Education and the QC for Trades and Occupations. For the purposes of this Act, the minister is defined as the Minister of Higher Education and Training.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for its responses to the submissions that were made by the various bodies when the legislation was processed by the NCOP. Advocate Boshof had responded to the submissions by USAf, SAICA, IIE, UMALUSI, and MIE adequately. She invited questions and comments from Members.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that inputs were not only for opposing but meant to strengthen. She asked if all of all the input, there was no valuable input that could be considered.
Adv Boshof responded that in the view of the Department, there were no new issues that had been raised. All the concerns and comments were raised during the process in the Portfolio Committee. While the subsequent amendments were of a cosmetic nature, they were not going to add any value at this point in time. To change a few words as proposed by USAf is, in some cases, not in line with the general language in the main Act. Addressing that as an amendment was going to cause more confusion.
The Chairperson noted that there were no further comments or questions. This was the final stage of the processing of the Bill. All the stages have been covered. All the submissions had been looked into. It does not necessarily follow that because there is a submission, there should be an amendment. Some of the issues raised had been covered and some not because they were of semantics in the main. The submissions were more of a technical nature than being substantive. She called upon Members to vote on the Bill and the Report of the Committee on National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill. She called upon Members to vote individually.
Ms Dlamini; Ms D Ngwenya (EFF, Gauteng); Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo); Mr D Stock (ANC, Northern Cape); and the Chairperson supported the Bill.
Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) and Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) opposed the Bill.
The Chairperson noted that there were seven Members present. Five of them had voted in favor of the Bill and two of them had opposed the Bill. The Bill will be accepted nonetheless and it will go to the House because it was voted for in a meeting where there was a quorum.
Consideration of Report on the National Qualifications Framework Bill
The Chairperson read out the report:
The Select Committee on Education and Recreation having considered the subject of the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill [B 20B - 2018], referred to it and classified by the joint tagging mechanism as a section 75 Bill report that the Bill has been agreed to by five out of seven Members that were present at the Committee meeting. The Bill will be taken to the NCOP for adoption.
The Chairperson announced that she had been informed that the parliamentary legal services officials were attending a Finance Committee meeting. The Committee had looked through the submission from legal services and was in agreement with the submission as presented before the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.