The NQF Amendment Bill is intended to deal with institutions that offer fraudulent qualifications and certificates, to deal with those individuals who deliberately misrepresent the qualification that they possess, and to provide the SAQA with powers to deal with these situations. The SAQA has always had the ability to verify the equivalence of foreign qualifications, and has the power to verify foreign qualifications.
Chairperson September of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training (PPCHET) indicated that the educational legislation intends to uphold norms and standards, and to ensure that the SA qualifications may be benchmarked against international standards.
The chairperson referred to the requirements of the National Development Plan for strong and simple controls, to regulate private provision of education. The level of unemployment and particularly youth unemployment, and the requirement to obtain a matric certificate, or qualification to find employment, makes people vulnerable to deception.
Various objections and concerns were raised by opposition parties. Although generally supportive, the opposition parties raised concerns about weight upon employers, and institutions. They quoted media reports of fake qualifications, and problems within the Quality Councils. A number raised questions about the SAQA capacity to meet the additional challenges.
The original amendment Bill has been amended in the PPCHET – one concern was that in the original Bill the SAQA could post the name of someone, who had apparently misrepresented their qualification, without providing the person with the right of reply first. That would be in contravention of the Constitutional right to fair administrative practice. That is covered by the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). Therefore, that section has been amended. Apparently, SAQA does already have a list of misrepresented qualifications.
There was some confrontation between the DA and EFF about qualifications required to participate in the Parliament. The SA Constitution allows for persons whether mineworker or brain surgeon to participate. In her closing statement, Minister Pandor thanked the participants for an unusually exciting education debate - with a smile on her face.
The concluding ANC statement indicated that Bill has been amended from the original form, and it is vitally important that it is implemented in the amended form. In the past black persons could not access advanced education and training, and now black South Africans are able to qualify in various professions, and trades.
Fee-free education will allow millions more South Africans from poor and working class families to have access. Unfortunately, together with the growing number of well-qualified persons, a growing number of misrepresented qualifications have allowed persons to be employed. All can recall the number of high profile individuals for example at the SABC.
The Bill provides SAQA with the powers to take action against those institutions, who offer false qualifications, and capacity to deal with those individuals misrepresenting their qualifications, and enter them on a public register.
The NLRD has the capacity for the increased challenge, and the Bill does not under undermine the Quality Councils.
Minister Pandor concluded by addressing the objections raised on the capacity of the SAQA. The Bill does not impose intolerable burden, and that the SAQA already has 20 million learner records on a digital database, that is fairly speedily accessible.
The Minister indicated that despite objections, this legislation is enforceable, and it is wrong to create an impression that every applicant’s qualifications must be checked – it is only the individuals, who are to be appointed – it is only the qualifications they say they hold, that need to be confirmed by SAQA.