14th Mar 2016 at 1:26 pm #27453
In November 2015 the DHET Minister tabled a Bill proposing amendments to the Higher Education Act 101 of 1997. (This is not the Higher Education Laws Amendment Act.) The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee heard submissions on the Bill during February and on 9 March 2016 the Department made a further response to the submissions and the committee deliberations.
One of the issues under discussion was the Recognition of Prior Learning. The response to this section may be of interest to skills-universe members. These are extracts from the minutes of the meeting.
“The next point raised by USAf was on the administrative powers to develop the articulation of Recognition to Prior Learning (RPL). DHET believes that articulation and recognition of RPL is not SAQA’s responsibility; SAQA’s function is quality assurance. However, SAQA has the obligation to manage how assessment centres which provide for RPL are managed and how their courses are carried out. SAQA does not manage the range and functions of RPL. The current Act requires SAQA to monitor the whole education system, and if there are issues that are in conflict, in terms of their quality assurance, then SAQA would have the open role to advise the Minister according to the quality assurance. The reason SAQA was included in the Bill means there is a line function between SAQA and universities, but SAQA will always be free to operate in whichever way it sees fit.”
“Dr Bozzoli asked why the Minister was asked to intervene in the regulation process of RPL, and why could the universities not do it themselves.
The Chairperson replied that some universities still do not recognise RPL and because of this they still continue to exclude a portion of people. That is the reason it was important for the Minister to intervene.
Adv Boshoff added that the Minister is responsible for providing overall guidance on policy matters, hence he was asked to intervene.
Mr Cassim asked what role does SAQA play which it is not currently doing.
Mr Patel replied that SAQA’s role is ensuring that qualifications are not fake and SAQA’s role is not the effective management of universities. The RPL matter is not a quality assurance-related matter either.”
There are a number of technical submissions and responses and debate about definitions – the full committee proceedings are available on:
The Bill is attached on this link
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.
14th Mar 2016 at 4:15 pm #27466
14th Mar 2016 at 6:07 pm #27465
Mr Sylvia Hammond you mean SAQA does not manage the range and functions of RPL?
SAQA says The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process through which formal, non-formal and informal learning are measured, mediated for recognition across different contexts and certified against the requirements for credit, access, inclusion or advancement in the formal education and training system or workplace. (Source: National Policy for the Implementation of RPL: par 30).
The aim is to make it possible to obtain formal recognition for knowledge gained throughout life, such as in workplaces and own reading or experiences. The RPL process also entails providing support to a candidate to ensure that knowledge is discovered and displayed in terms of a relevant qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
14th Mar 2016 at 8:08 pm #27464
Hi Thokozani, thanks for this quote.
I’m not saying that – the representatives from DHET said that to the Parliamentary Committee.
If I understand this correctly, the DHET representatives were saying that SAQA is the apex quality assurance body. SAQA does not carry out RPL itself, but it has a responsibility to quality assure what is done by institutions.
What the Chair said according to the minutes is that the universities do not recognise RPL. But I seem to recall many years ago that I contributed to the application of someone who had worked for me – and it was part of a portfolio that she was submitting to UWC. So that would seem to imply that some universities accept RPL.
Skills-universe members will confirm that on a number of occasions I have expressed my complete frustration that RPL has not delivered what I had expected it would. To me it is a fundamental pillar of redress for people who were excluded from formal qualifications.
It seems that if we are still arguing about it after 22 years then it’s no wonder we are getting nowhere. If I am wrong I would really appreciate it if someone would tell me what progress we have made.
15th Mar 2016 at 1:27 am #27463
15th Mar 2016 at 5:46 am #27462
Hi Sylvia, all I will say on this matter is that it is a crying shame that so little has in fact been done and that after so many years we still have no direction where RPL is concerned. It’s a little bit her and a little bit there. Someone must once and for all make a decision in this regard. I agree with you that RPL is “a fundamental pillar of redress for people who were excluded from formal qualifications”.
I cannot believe I once sat on a committee to do with RPL and that was back in 2011. Where are we today????
15th Mar 2016 at 6:04 am #27461
I have been campaigning for SAQA to become the national apex QA body for a long time already – since 2006. The reality, however, is that SAQA is not an apex QA body. In fact, SAQA is not a QA body at all. SAQA disbanded their QA section almost a decade ago. SAQA is not responsible for QA. SAQA does not manage assessment centres, assessment or RPL. SAQA does not monitor the educational system – this is the responsibility of D HET.There is not a functional line between SAQA and the universities. The CHE is responsible for higher education. By law SAQA is the custodian of the NQF. This means that SAQA is responsible for registering new qualifications. SAQA is only involved in RPL, integrated learning, etc. because of the excellent research that they do. In my opinion they are doing this to justify their existence – it is not one of their core functions.
On the issue of RPL – Mentornet designed an Advanced Diploma in RPL some two years ago, which we had evaluated by SAQA. We applied to be accredited to offer it but are still waiting and waiting for a positive reply from the HEQC.
15th Mar 2016 at 10:14 am #27460
Thank you all for your comments.
Hannes, I pulled out my dictionary before I answered to check the meaning of apex. It says the “highest point”.
So my logic tells me if SAQA is responsible for oversight of the Quality Councils, and the QCs (CHE, Umalusi & QCTO) have a quality assurance role, then surely SAQA must be the highest point for quality assurance?
Yes, you are right about SAQA research on RPL and the conference that they held produced some evidence of what was being done.
On the Mentornet advanced diploma that is very disappointing. I wonder as the majority of what would be RPL’d would be occupational qualifications, could it not be a higher occupational qualification under the QCTO?
Just a thought – maybe some radical thinking needs to take place on RPL – maybe we need a hashtag!
15th Mar 2016 at 11:01 am #27459
Sylvia, When doing research for my doctoral studies in 2007 I specifically asked James Keevy and the late Ben Parker if SAQA has a QA responsibility. They were adamant that this is not the case. I do not know the whole procedure, but would imagine that it should be promulgated in a Government Gazette if SAQA is to be made responsible for QA. I guess we can make an argument out that they should not register qualifications before ensuring that the curricula meet the quality requirements for such, but they most certainly have no say over assessment or moderation. And they are not a QA Body on any level.
15th Mar 2016 at 11:34 am #27458
Thank you – you are now responsible for my office being tidier as I needed to find one of my files to respond.
The following are taken from the NQF Act 67 of 2008 that came into effect 1 June 2009:
About the NQF – that it is a comprehensive system for “… quality-assured national qualifications” and under objectives 5 (c) “enhance the quality of education and training”
Then under SAQA functions:
s13(1)(h)(iii) “develop policy and criteria, after consultation with the QCs, for assessment, recognition of prior learning and credit accumulation and transfer”
Then under functions of QCs:
s27(h)(ii) “develop and implement policy and criteria, taking into account the policy and criteria contemplated in section 13(1)(h)(iii), for assessment, recognition of prior learning and credit accumulation and transfer”
s27(h)(iii)”… which may include appropriate measures for the assessment of learning achievement”
s27(i) “with regard to quality assurance within its sub-framework-
- (i) develop and implement policy for quality assurance;
- (ii) ensure the integrity and credibility of quality assurance;
- (iii) ensure that such quality assurance as is necessary for the sub-framework is undertaken” .
Please see what you think about this wording – it is not as clear as it could be but I would still argue that there is no point in ensuring quality of qualifications without the process to acquire them – surely those are sides of the same coin?
15th Mar 2016 at 11:51 am #27457
I agree with your interpretation, Sylvia. Hopefully Joe Samuels or one of his researchers will shed more light on this because SAQA has no section dealing with quality assurance. Also, I would like to see SAQA as the “Apex QA Body” tell the HEQC or Umalusi what to do. In summary, an organisation cannot be a QA body if it has no teeth.
15th Mar 2016 at 12:04 pm #27456
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