I, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of Education, hereby publish The Higher Education Qualifications Framework: Draft for Discussion, as set out in the Schedule, for comment in terms of section 3 of the Higher Education Act of 1997 (Act No. 101 of 1997) and in fulfilment of section 4(3) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000).
Separate and parallel qualifications structures for universities and technikons have hindered articulation and transfer between institutions and programmes. In Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education (1997) It was therefore proposed that a single qualifications framework should be developed for all higher education qualifications in line with the National Qualifcations Framework (NQF).
The National Plan for Higher Education (2001) subsequently provided the strategic framework within which the national system of higher education is being re-engineered to meet the demands of the 21st century. The proposed higher education qualifications framework is an essential complement to the national plan.
A new qualifcations framework must meet demanding criteria because it will guide the development of higher education qualifications and programmes for years to come. The framework should be clear and uncomplicated. It should reflect the present requirements of the unitary national higher education system and be capable of flexible application so that innovation is encouraged. It should be in line with international practice and should advance the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) of which it is an important part.
In developing the draft framework my Ministry has been greatly assisted by the reports of three specialist teams, each of which has evoked a penetrating and wide-ranging public response.
In January 2002, the Council on Higher Education (CHE) published A New Academic Policy for Programmes and Qualifications in Higher Education: Discussion Document (2002). This study, known as the Draft NAP document, was prepared over a two-year period by an Academic Policy Task Team, comprising members of the CHE and representatives of national bodies including the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
The other two documents involved intensive work on the implementation of the NQF undertaken on behalf of the Ministries of Education and Labour. The Report of the Study Team on the Implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (April 2002) and An Interdependent National Qualifications Framework: Consultative Document (July 2003) were both published by the Departments of Education and Labour. Both documents acknowledge the influence of the Draft NAP document.
This draft document has been developed with due recognition of the statutory authority of SAQA for the registration of qualifications on the NQF.
In preparing the present document the Department of Education has given careful consideration to this wealth of proposals and commentary. Fortunately a strong consensus has developed on a number of important issues. Where opinion has been divided, a judgment has had to be made. That is in the nature of policy making.
The Department of Education will revise the document for Ministerial decision after considering the public's response and the CHE's advice, and after holding consultations with the organised higher education and professional communities, SAQA, government departments, statutory agencies and organised civil society.
The new policy will be determined concomitantly with any necessary change to the NQF architecture and implementation framework that are determined by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister of Education in consultation with the Minister of Labour.
Comments from interested parties are invited, and should reach the Department not later than 31 August 2004. Comments should be marked "Higher Education Qualifications Framework" and addressed to the Director General, Department of Education, Private Bag X895, Room 534, Sol Plaatje House, 123 Schoeman Street, Pretoria, 0001, for attention: Dr Pamela Dube. The document may be faxed for Dr Dube's attention at (012) 325 4419 or sent by e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The name, address, telephone number and fax number of the person or organisation responsible for submitting comments should also be provided.
G N M Pandor, MP
Minister of Education