Author Topic: SAQA, the NQF and Quality  (Read 763 times)

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SAQA, the NQF and Quality
« on: October 09, 2017, 02:50:40 PM »
The NQF, the SAQA Act of 1995 and the National Education Policy Act of 1996, among others, are explicit about the proposed orientation to quality within the South African education and training context, and more generally.

At the heart of this orientation is the concept of transformation, which includes:
0   Transformation of policies and policy formulation processes;
0   Transformation of structures and relations among them;
0   The creation of an integrated national framework;
0   Increasing access to and mobility within the education and training system;
0   Developing modes of democratic organisation and practice; and
0   Links to the political, social and economic reconstruction and development of South African society.

In addition, Regulation R1127, under the SAQA Act of 1995, defines quality in the following way:

The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.

The objectives specified by the Act indicate that the ultimate purposes of QMS are to:

0   Enhance learning in South Africa by increasing the number of learners, the frequency of learning, and the relevance and durability of what is learned.

0   Establish a framework of qualifications and standards that are relevant, credible and accessible.

These expressions of values are consistent with the total quality management (TQM) model, but contain strands of CTS also. The SAQA orientation to quality is generally holistic and focuses on processes that deepen democracy, flexibility within the system and client/learner-centredness; it also has to ensure that specifications of excellence are met.

However, this does not mean that SAQA has only articulated statements of orientation to quality. SAQA has also outlined what it sees as “quality indicators”, particularly in terms of assessing applications from providers. Providers would need to ensure that:

0   Their aims are clear;
0   Processes are identified;
0   Procedures for quality management policies are in place;
0   Sustainability of quality management strategies are in place;
0   They have the ability to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes;
0   They have the necessary financial, administrative and physical resources to deliver their programmes;
0   They have democratic modes of organisation and practice;
0   They have clear learner-centred policies and ways of dealing with learning programmes;
0   They are able to conduct off-site or work-site activities;
0   They have clear policies for assessment and its management; and,
0   Have policies for programme development in terms of content, people, procedures, practices and resources.

The above indicators are based on the objectives of the NQF, for both qualifications and programs, that providers:

0   Use the standards and integrate theory and practice
0   Utilise suitable learning and assessment processes for the prescribed learning outcomes
0   Better enable individual learners to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the country and the individual’s social-political-economic development
0   Facilitate and enhance access, mobility and progression
0   Redress previous inequities, particularly making available opportunities for those who could not previously access them
0   Periodically collect, store and report information describing achievements for each of the other indicators

Therefore, learner-centredness, relevance, democratic ways of operating, flexibility within the system, increasing access, transparency, accountability, recognition of prior learning and critical learning and teaching styles underpin SAQA’s sense of quality. All of these are outlined in the SAQA Criteria and Guidelines for Providers document and it supports the notion of quality development as a ‘process’, rather than a quality management ‘system’, per se.

All of the above features of SAQA’s orientation to quality, may be brought down to five essential categories of criteria for assessment that need to be used to ensure that quality assurance and management exist. These categories of criteria are:

0   Baseline criteria;
0   A quality management continuum;
0   Outputs, inputs and processes;
0   Ongoing improvement, accountability and transparency;
0   Democratic organisation and practice

PLEASE NOTE: It is in the light of the above-mentioned orientation to quality and with an emphasis on quality ‘development’, that the following section should be viewed. SAQA maintains that this document is not meant to be prescriptive with regard to the quality management approaches taken by ETQAs and their constituent providers. Each ETQA, together with its providers, has to take into account the context within which it is functioning and investigate which approach will best suit the needs of the sector.

At the same time, as much as the ETQA and its providers may decide on how to go about developing quality management systems, SAQA has to balance the responsibility of ensuring that the objectives of the NQF are advanced, within a flexible and developmental approach. The ‘core criteria’ discussed in chapter 4 address the directives as interpreted from the objectives of the NQF. In a sense it gives guidance on the type of ‘evidence’ a quality assurer will look for when an organization is audited. It is therefore meant to give guidance to the ETQA and its providers on the key areas of quality development.
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