In December 2014 the Minister of Higher Education and Training highlighted problems in education and training.
Some problems are ongoing and it’s important that people who wish to participate in the system – be it as Beneficiary (eg. Learner) or Service Provider (eg. Training company) understands the challenges.
What is the Minister’s role?
The NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008 gives gives the Minister overall executive responsibility for the NQF, for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the three Quality Councils (QCs), namely the QC for general and Further Education and Training (Umalusi), the QC for Higher Education (CHE) and the QC for Trades and Occupations (QCTO).
- In short – he is responsible for the credibility of the system.
- The education legislation and the Constitution require that all stakeholders uphold national norms and standards and in the case of the National Qualifications Act (NQF), to ensure that South African Qualifications are able to be bench-marked against international standards.
The Law and False Qualifications
The presentation of or claiming to possess a qualification is an offense. The Minister says:
In terms of section 13(n) (iii), it provides for me to request SAQA and the QCs to perform any function consistent with this Act and in section 13(k)(i) of the Act, SAQA is tasked with conducting or commissioning investigations on issues of importance to the development and implementation of the NQF.
- Fraudulent qualifications undermine the integrity and credibility of our qualifications and the qualifications assurance. SAQA was commissioned to establish a national fraud register immediately and to advise Nzimande about a policy framework, including the need for strengthening the legislation to address the issue of fake qualifications and to propose consequences for the perpetrators of fraudulent activities.
- SAQA responded to a directive from the Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on the verification of public service employees’ qualifications, and have put measures in place such as verification services for bulk verification of existing employees’ qualifications, and verification of qualifications of prospective employees, evaluation of foreign qualifications and verification of qualifications for high level appointments.
- He explains that
We have to protect the credibility of the quality assurance regime, and ensure that there is a robust response by the DHET, SAQA, and the bodies associated with being responsible for the quality assurance regime in South Africa to address the proliferation of fraudulent qualifications.
Rogue Training Providers
Unscrupulous providers which are not registered by the DHET and not accredited by a quality assurance body to deliver learning programmes also came under fire. These providers operate illegally and certificate people with fraudulent qualifications.
The DHET deals with such providers through a dedicated team of people who work closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to prosecute such illegal providers.
- Many people believe that they have achieved a qualification, or credit or a part qualification from an institution when in fact all they have is a fake certificate. Nzimande warned that this work will be on-going.
- To date SAQA has conducted qualification verifications for all National Departments, 66% of Provincial Departments, 6 Public Entities and 31 Municipalities. SAQA has checked the South African qualifications of existing employees (for these, SAQA does not differentiate between senior and junior staff) for 73% of all National Departments (but only covering 37% of the total staff in these Departments to date) and 49% of all Provincial Departments (covering only 25% of the total staff in these departments to date), as well as 2 Public Entities, and none for the Municipalities. In the case of all provincial departments, the qualifications of only 7% of the total staff complement have been verified.
These departments were advised to address this issue urgently.
SAQA has been involved in verifying the qualifications of applicants for high-level positions (Deputy Director-General upwards) from 01 August 2009.
To date, SAQA has checked South African qualifications for 93% of all National Departments and foreign qualifications for 54% of all National Departments. SAQA has also checked South African qualifications of applicants for non-high-level positions for 98% of National Departments, 52% of Provincial Departments, all 6 Public Entities, and all 31 Municipalities.
Extent of Fraud
SAQA has measured the extent of qualification fraud committed by applicants for positions at all levels since 1 October 2009 (when recording began). Cumulatively, as at 5 November 2014, the percentage of fraud uncovered by SAQA in pre-appointment verification of qualifications was 1.1% of the 63 663 individuals, and 0.7% of the 98 051 achievement records – (A record denotes one qualification for one person. Thus, if five qualifications must be verified for one person, then the number of people is one and the number of records is five).
Some interesting statistics from the records that SAQA has provided show that:
- for six months covered in 2009-2010 reporting period, of the 666 people (with 973 records) verified, there were 17 confirmed incidents of fraud (1.7% of the records and 2.6% of the people);
- In the 12 months of 2010/2011, of the 9 405 people (with 14 238 records) 258 records for 247 people were confirmed fraudulent (1.8% of the records and 2.6% of the people);
- In the 12 months of 2011/2012, of the 9 127 people (with 14 422 records) 86 records for 82 people were confirmed fraudulent (0.6% of the records and 0.9% of the people);
- In the 12 months of 2012/2013, of the 12 649 people (with 20 062 records) 119 records for 114 people were confirmed fraudulent (0.6% of the records and 0.9% of the people);
- In the 12 months of 2013/2014, of the 18 634 people (with 28 844 records) 128 records for 126 people were confirmed fraudulent (0.4% of the records and 0.7% of the people);
- for the first seven months of 2014/2015 reporting period, of the 13 182 people (with 19 512 records) verified, 92 records for 91 people were confirmed fraudulent (0.5% of the records and 0.7% of the people).
Foreign Nationals and Fraud
No incidents of qualification fraud were found among the 106 foreign qualifications checked for applicants for high-level positions in national and provincial departments. However, there were 2 public entity records and 9 municipality records that found to be fraudulent.
Government Crack Down
In partnership with SAQA and the Quality Councils, the DHET will work to ensure that the highest levels of scrutiny and verification are applied to protect the South African public and employers from people who commit fraud in this way, and to protect the credibility of the NQF and the quality assurance system in South Africa.