Assuring the quality delivery of qualifications

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					Assuring the quality delivery of qualifications
Christo Basson, Director: DQAD
SAQA’s goal for quality assurance is to ensure the good performance of the bodies it appoints to ensure the quality of
the delivery of qualifications, so that learners can rest assured that the education and training presented by accredited
providers is of high quality.

SAQA’s key quality assurance activities are the monitoring and auditing of ETQAs to ensure the quality of education and
training delivery.

Foreign qualifications are evaluated by SAQA’s Centre for the Evaluation of Educational Qualifications (CEEQ), which
also falls under the Directorate: Quality Assurance and Development (DQAD). CEEQ ensures that the holders of foreign
qualifications are assimilated into the South African system by making recommendations on placing their qualifications
on the South African NQF.

The following significant outputs resulted from SAQA’s endeavours to continuously improve the quality of education and
training in the country:

Education and training quality audits
SAQA’s auditing system previously focused on compliance, and progressed during the year under review, from monitoring
compliance to evaluating the performance of ETQAs. This is a logical step in the quality assurance of a developing system,
as SAQA will henceforth be able to measure the actual outcomes achieved by ETQAs.

The indicators and evidence to be audited were designed to assess the impact that the ETQA has on the quality of learning,
down to the level of the provider and learner. The performance-auditing instrument allows for sector-specificity when
determining the indicators against which evidence of performance is gathered. It will measure the actual quality of
delivery in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and economy.

The performance-auditing instrument that will be used to assess performance was developed in consultation with the
ETQAs and the external quality auditors appointed by SAQA. The outcome of the previous cycle of monitoring the ETQAs
culminated in a report on the Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the Education and Training Quality Audits of ETQAs,
containing all the findings across sectors. The recommendations of this report were also taken into account in the current
preparations for performance auditing. The emphasis of this report was on the importance of performance auditing to
ensure continual improvement, so that stakeholder satisfaction could be assured.

A representative pilot auditing exercise to test the new instrument was undertaken in November 2006. The audit instrument
was finalised and planning for the rollout of the performance audits will commence in April 2007. ETQAs have already
been requested to perform a self-evaluation exercise, using a questionnaire developed for this purpose by SAQA, in
preparation for performance auditing.

Continuous targeted monitoring interventions have taken place during the period under review. Targeted monitoring
was conducted in high-risk areas such as firearm training and driver training. This monitoring is aimed at the continual
improvement of the system through assistance and development in areas requiring improvement.

Co-operation between ETQAs
Providers of education and training must be accredited with the ETQA in its primary focus area. As not all qualifications
offered by a provider necessarily fall under one ETQA’s primary focus area, it is necessary to have formal working
relationships in the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between quality assurance bodies. These MoUs ensure
access to qualifications that would normally fall beyond the primary focus of a specific ETQA.

A system-wide monitoring of MoUs between ETQAs other than the “band” ETQAs, to establish the effectiveness of this
system, was completed, and SAQA is taking active steps to ensure the continuous improvement of the system so as to
ensure access to and the quality delivery of qualifications.

Extension of accreditation
The processing of applications for the extension of accreditation of ETQAs for newly registered qualifications is an ongoing
responsibility. As new standards and qualifications are registered, ETQAs are required to apply for accreditation and to
assure the quality of the standards and qualifications that fall within their scope. This process is properly tracked to ensure
the incorporation of qualifications by ETQAs for quality assurance purposes.

Flowing from the extension of accreditation is the uptake of qualifications. SAQA has initiated research on four levels of
the uptake of qualifications: uptake by ETQA’s, uptake by providers, uptake by learners, and lastly throughput and learner
results. Part of this will ensure the quality of delivery and the impact the uptake has on raising the skills level of learners
in line with National HR Strategies. This uptake will be fed into the performance auditing process.

Introduction of moderating bodies
One of the new innovations to improve quality was the introduction of moderating bodies in areas where possible
standards drift across the spectrum of ETQA was anticipated. The first area of possible standards drift was identified as
that of assessment and moderation practices. This will be followed by moderating bodies looking at standards drift in
provider accreditation and programme approval.

Terms of reference were drawn up for skilled people to assist SAQA on such a moderation body to determine any possible
standards drift across all sectors. The terms of reference allowed teams of SAQA staff and these independent qualified
moderators to evaluate assessment and moderation practices across all ETQAs. This moderating process was completed
in March 2007.

The outcome of the process led to the individual reports to ETQA’s as well as a trends report with areas of best practices
and areas that would require improvement.

Quality promotion
The ETQA Forum meetings add value to the system by offering a common platform for ETQAs and SAQA to share
information and experiences. Four of these meetings, where important and current issues were discussed and finalised for
implementation, took place during the period under review.

This communication conduit between SAQA and its strategic partners is vital for the growth of the NQF. The issues covered
include the Performance Auditing Instrument and process as well as the registration of Private FET Providers and MoUs.

Evaluation of foreign qualifications
SAQA acts as a national reference point for advice on the recognition of foreign and domestic qualifications.

The evaluation service rendered by SAQA is based on the generation, management and sharing of information about
qualifications and the systems from which they originate. This service aims to provide support for making decisions related
to the placement of foreign workers and learners in South Africa – hence it realises the NQF objective of educational and
work mobility in a highly practical way.

The financial year 2006/2007 was particularly challenging for the rendering of this service, owing to an unexpected
increase in applications resulting from a change in the 2005 Immigration Regulations. This increase led to a temporary
backlog in the processing of qualifications and the additional applications brought significant pressure to bear on staff
and systems, but was managed through proper planning.

SAQA received a total of 14 382 applications, which is a 71% increase on the number in the previous financial year.
Statistics furthermore show that since the 2004/2005 financial year, demand for the evaluation service has more than
doubled (see figure 1).

                         6000                                                          Number of
                                                                                       applications received
                                2004/2005: 6346   2005/2006: 8420   2006/2007: 14382

                                                     Figure 1
SAQA responded to this challenge by implementing a turnaround strategy, which included the following steps:

•   The CEEQ unit was restructured to make provision for a separate client service and administration leg, and additional
    permanent staff were appointed and trained.

•   A number of contracted evaluators were appointed and trained to conduct evaluations at the basic level. These
    contractors can be appointed again on a part-time basis whenever the need arises. Systems and procedures were
    overhauled and streamlined. Evaluation formats were also adjusted for the easier processing of applications.

•   Development work commenced on an electronic workflow system. This will enable SAQA to create and maintain
    client records at the beginning and end of the process and will also enable an online application facility and a public
    interface. The public interface will facilitate direct and ongoing communication between SAQA and its clientele,
    informing clients of the status of their applications by e-mail or SMS.

•   A designated reception area and fully fledged contact centre were put in place. This brought about an increase in
    dedicated production time for the evaluation leg, and a substantial enhancement of SAQA’s client service.

As a result of the dedication and hard work of staff and the implementation of the above measures, the backlog was fully
addressed by 16 October 2006 and SAQA is able to deal effectively with all applications, within agreed timelines.

The evaluation function has also gained greater significance in view of the government’s initiatives: the Accelerated and
Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) and the JIPSA. The value added through SAQA’s facilitation of the skills
acquired in education and training systems around the globe was demonstrated by some of the findings in a recent in-
house study.

Qualifications from more than 120 countries were submitted for evaluation. The top 20 countries from which qualifications
were evaluated is depicted in figure 2.

























                                                                                            Figure 2

Qualifications from the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) make up 55% of the

                                                                                   Number of applications received

                                                                                   Education, Training & Development

                                                                                   Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology

                                                                                   Physics, Mathematics, Computer & Life Sciences

                                                                                   Business, Commerce & Management

                                                                                            Figure 3

Of particular importance for the skills profile in South Africa is the fact that 12,3% of the qualifications evaluated cater for
needs in the field of education, training and development, and 22,7% will meet shortages in manufacturing, engineering
and technology and in physics, mathematics, computer and life sciences. Qualifications in business, commerce and
management make up 11% of the profile (see figure 3).

In addition to rendering an ongoing evaluation service, SAQA focused on building strategic relationships to enhance the
evaluation function, expand SAQA’s capacity and stay abreast of national, regional and international perspectives and
developments in the field.

To these ends, SAQA interacted and liaised with the following stakeholders/interest groups:

•   The Department of Home Affairs on issues of mutual interest, including the importing of scarce skills as manifested
    in the immigration policy

•   Delegates of the National Critical Skills Project of the Department of Trade and Industry to explore possible co-
    operation with efforts to import critical skills

•   The Directorate for International Relations and UNESCO at the Department of Education

•   SA Law Society in Midrand in April 2006, and an extensive workshop with immigration lawyers and practitioners

•   The International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA)

•   The Association for Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) and a group of
    other professional bodies to discuss the challenges that members of these bodies face in obtaining recognition for
    their qualifications

•   Delegates of the Allied Health Professions Council on professional registration

•   Department of Public Works on the importation of specialised skills from Cuba

International links were established and/or enhanced by meeting the following delegations:

•   The association of Professional Teachers of Zimbabwe in South Africa (PTZSA)

•   The Namibian Qualifications Authority

•   The Embassy of Gabon

•   A Russian delegation attending an International Examination Board ITEC meeting

SAQA also participated in the revision of the Arusha Convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education
in Africa. This formed part of the African Union’s drive in this regard.

     Ntsiki Gumbe, Delores Kotze and Richard Chauke at an information        Shandukani Manyaka from DQAD (left) engages with visitors from Namibia in
                              sharing session                                                             July 2006

           Hlumela Sondlo leads the DQAD Faranani in July 2006                                   DQAD celebrates the end of 2006