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People who misrepresent their qualifications must face the full might of the law, the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has heard during public hearings on the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill. The Chairperson of the board of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), Professor Themba Mosia, said the Bill must be clear about sanctions for misrepresenting qualifications.

“Some of the people who misrepresent are in professions where people could die. It is crucial that we strengthen the Act,” Prof Mosia said, as he noted that the CHE is facing litigation involving the misrepresentation of qualifications.

The CHE was one of various organisations presenting today during the public hearings, including the South African Qualifications Authority, the Universities South Africa (Universities SA), Umalusi – the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, Absa bank, and the University of Johannesburg.

Universities SA Chairperson of the Teaching and Learning Strategy Group and Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, said they supported the Bill. “There are concerns, though, that we may unwittingly create a cumbersome, unworkable architecture that will lead to unnecessary bottlenecks in the system,” he said. Universities SA is concerned that the Bill is conceptually weak, he said.

Committee member Professor Belinda Bozzoli stated that she considered the Bill overambitious. “It is going to be cumbersome to implement; the Bill is overambitious. How will you verify qualifications for millions of companies?”

Another Committee member, Ms Julia Killian, welcomed the commitment to ensuring the Bill is a success, saying that the legislation will be the framework, while the details will be covered by policy and regulations.

Earlier, the South African Qualifications Authority had told the hearings that it verified 72 000 to 80 000 qualifications annually, mainly for government departments.

The public hearings are scheduled to continue for the remainder of the day.

Sibongile Maputi
5 September 2018