The NQF – a site of struggle in challenging times

By sylviahammond, 6 March, 2020

The Joe Samuels Tribute Evening Lecture The NQF – for what? Joe identifies three areas of rapid change, each constituting overall challenges in themselves: climate change, African continental developments, and the 4th Industrial Revolution. Against these challenges and context, the question is: the NQF – for what? Sitting in Cape Town, the first challenge is very well understood – the effects of climate change. For any doubters, coming to terms with the thought of having to personally carry a bottle of water to last a day – for all personal hygiene, cooking, and other activities is mind-changing. In Africa, however, for many women and girls, that remains a daily experience. But, how does this relate to the NQF? And, how does it relate to the learners – and the qualities and competences they acquire? Returning to 1995, Joe recalls that we had Critical Cross-Field Outcomes – intended to produce critical thinkers, and problem-solvers. He believes that somehow – we have lost that insight and intention. Take the introduction of coding – what relevance will that have without a problem-solving ability? And even more critically – what society do we want? Taking that question to the broader African context - what Africa do we want? And what Africa is envisioned? Joe identifies key agreements and strategies, and the UNESCO goal of global recognition.

  • Agenda 2063 is the overall plan for developing Africa as the global powerhouse. The aim is to have a single free trade area.
  • The African Continental Qualifications Framework. (ACQF). An excellent explanation is available on the JET website:
  • The Southern African Development Community Qualifications Framework (SADCQF), which has been in place since 2011. (The SADCQF Booklet will be included in the Downloads section.)
  • The Addis Convention, now ratified by South Africa. The full title is: Addis Convention on the recognition of studies, certificates, diplomas, degrees, and other academic qualifications in higher education in African states. Skills-universe carried a report on the presentation of the convention to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee:
  • World Reference Levels (WRL), which is not just the formal qualifications, but recognition of the competency profile of the individual, gained through a variety of means including informal and non-formal learning.

Finally, the third area Joe identifies – the widely-reported 4th industrial revolution. Contrary to the technical approach adopted by many reports, Joe raises the dangers. Too few questions are being asked of artificial intelligence (AI). The point is that AI is developed, and it is not neutral - the values of the developer are inherently incorporated and integrated into the resulting AI.  Sexism, racism, misogyny, bigotry, patriarchy – and other problematic ideologies and values - may all – intentionally or otherwise – be included. Questions of who benefits – and how – focus attention on the site of struggle. Technological development is disruptive, but what is the role, and how does implementation move us forward as a nation? How do we seek certified recognition – global terminology, in the context of a high turnaround time of that technological development? We need to move forward in weeks – not years.  We have opportunities – for example, the President currently chairs the African Union, and there are possibilities to exploit in eLearning. In conclusion, Joe thanks the audience, who elected not to forget his contribution. My comment: no politician – or other ill-intended individual – can remove or erase, a record of 22 years of service, founded upon intellectual quality and competence; and insight into the NQF – as a site of struggle, in the post-apartheid dispensation, and global challenges. Joe quoted President Nelson Mandela: “A winner is a dreamer, who never gives up”.  I do hope that Joe does not entirely retire and abandon the struggle.



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