Skills or the lack thereof is an important issue in South Africa especially in the current economy. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) plays an important role in facilitating skills coming into and going out of the country through verifying and evaluating qualifications.
To ensure that it is on the cutting edge of verifying and evaluating qualifications; SAQA is a signatory to the Groningen Declaration and is a founding member of the African Qualifications Verification Network (AQVN). SAQA is also responsible for overseeing the implementation and further development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) – a framework for recording quality-assured national qualifications and part-qualifications. SAQA promotes genuine quality qualifications through the NQF.
The AQVN will be launched officially on 16 May 2016. The AQVN will enable cooperation and collaboration across the African continent. This will benefit lifelong learners wishing to study outside their countries, workers seeking employment in other parts of Africa, and organisations tasked with verifying and evaluating qualifications such as SAQA.
This launch will be followed by the 5th annual meeting of the Groningen Declaration Network (GDN). The GDN is a network of like-minded organisations working towards establishing “a more complete and far-reaching delivery of digital student data.”
Signatories to the Groningen Declaration on Digital Student Data Depositories Worldwide have one common goal: to develop secure and complete digital platforms for student data as a response to increasing student mobility. The Declaration states among other things: “As we see it, digital student data portability and digital student data depositories are becoming increasingly concrete and relevant realities, and in the years to come, they will contribute decisively to the free movement of students and skilled workers on a global scale.”
The GDN’s work is also important as it helps combat the misrepresentation of qualifications and document falsification which is becoming a serious challenge and is receiving worldwide attention. The theme for this year’s meeting, “A Digital World for All: Making Skills Mobile”, accurately reflects the ambitions and potential of the GDN. Skills, being a person’s attainments in terms of academic training, professional experience or otherwise, are digitally articulated and exchanged and should be accepted, as a person’s “legal skills tender.” That would make skills truly mobile.
To date, there are 41 signatories to the Declaration and 15 are expected to sign at the Cape Town meeting. The results of pilot projects on digital student data portability will also be showcased at the meeting.
The GDN meeting will be followed by the International Seminar on Qualifications Frameworks on the 20th May 2016. This seminar will bring together international specialists working in the areas of qualification frameworks and qualifications recognition, various other experts in education and training in general and representatives of governments. The objective of the seminar is to reflect on how far qualifications frameworks have come and also on how to advance them into the future by using the Sustainable Development Goals or the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Education 2030: Framework for Action.
These international events form part of SAQA’s 20th anniversary celebrations.