ACQF Guidelines and Training Modules – the technical foundation supporting the ACQF policy document

The Guidelines address the themes, considered essential in the context of ACQF.

ACQF Guidelines and Training Modules – the technical foundation supporting the ACQF policy document

The ACQF is in development in a process steered by the African Union Commission and the Advisory Group, and combining analysis, mutual learning and networking between countries and regions, capacity development. These drivers underpin the elaboration of ACQF policy and Guidelines.

  • ACQF Guidelines: A team of specialist experts is developing the Guidelines, which will be released until June 2022.

The first draft completed and submitted to ACQF Advisory Group meeting (13/01/2022). The concept paper on ACQF Guidelines and the themes they address was presented at the ACQF Advisory Group meeting of 28 July 2021.

The set of 10 ACQF Guidelines are the technical foundations accompanying the ACQF policy document. The Guidelines address the ten themes, considered essential in the context of ACQF:

  1. Guideline 1: Learning outcomes
  2. Guideline 2: Level descriptors
  3. Guideline 3: Referencing of NQF or system to ACQF
  4. Guideline 4: Validation and recognition of learning
  5. Guideline 5: Quality assurance in the context of ACQF
  6. Guideline 6: Registration and databases of qualifications
  7. Guideline 7: Monitoring and evaluation in the context of NQFs and ACQF
  8. Guideline 8: Communication and outreach
  9. Guideline 9: Innovation and technology in the context of qualifications, qualifications frameworks and ACQF
  10. Guideline 10: qualifications and qualifications frameworks – a systemic view.

Each Guideline is a trio of documents: (1) a synthesis guideline, (2) a technical guideline and (3) a training module:

  • Technical in-depth guideline: This document forms the core of the trio of documents. It will present as a short handbook: for clarification and technical support. This will be used by implementers, practitioners, and other groups
  • Synthesis version: This version is a shortened version for policy purposes. It will be used primarily by policy institutions, and other groups, and has a key purpose to provide policy orientation
  • Training module: This version will form part of the knowledge base and used for the ACQF Training programme and ACQF e-learning platform.

As instruments of the ACQF, each Guideline:

  • Clarifies and deepens key concepts, principles and practices related to the 10 themes;
  • Provides a technical orientation for national implementing bodies and stakeholders, especially the lead institutions managing the NQF or system and interacting with the (future) ACQF governing structure and implementation unit;
  • Is oriented to be a reference at both country (NQF or system) and continental (ACQF) levels, and addresses the perspectives and needs of both levels
  • Works in synergy with, and complements, other ACQF guidelines and will be used as a digital tool;
  • Refers to the relevant existing (or planned) African Union policies, instruments, guidelines and other conventions applicable in the domain of qualifications frameworks or systems;
  • Contributes to an AU area of education and qualifications, based on converging elements and recommendations that eventually contribute to continental integration and mutual understanding while respecting the diversity of the national and regional context; and
  • Will evolve and be updated and enriched to reflect new developments, experiences and needs related with the transformation of learning and other drivers.
ACQF: rationale, development process, main components and outputs

Education, skills and work will determine the improvement to livelihoods of the more than 1.3 billion people on the African continent, and drive growth and development for the generations to come.

The accomplishment of the potentialities of the African demographic dividend in post-Covid-19-pandemic economic recovery will depend on the development of the right mix of skills within the population and the quality and transparency of qualifications of all levels and sectors of education and training systems across countries. Learning must be lifelong and life-wide, to enable transitions to new jobs, especially in high productivity and innovation sectors, and adaptation to new skills requirements in the green and digital economies. Moreover, access to learning and qualifications should support inclusion in decent work and in the formal economy of small artisans, rural producers and the self-employed, and of the population with limited formal schooling but with practical professional and life experience, especially women and young people.

The African continent is marked by a wide diversity of education and qualifications systems, with different structures and typology of qualifications and limited updated information on qualifications in the public domain. International qualifications related to dynamic professional sectors, technologies and global companies gain ground, but often are not linked with qualifications frameworks and systems. A range of new transversal, digital and green skills are required for people to adapt and be employable in the context of the transformation of work and learning, digitalisation of public and private organisations and demands for a greener and sustainable economy. Migrants and refugees carry potentialities, skills, hope for safer life and work – but often no qualifications documents. Furthermore, continental free trade has started operations in a range of sectors, a process likely to trigger demand for new skills and qualifications and more efficient recognition. The informal sector of the economy shows no signs of abating and there is a vast need for good quality programmes of recognition of prior learning and access to modular skills development opportunities with certification.

The call for the establishment of a continental qualifications framework for Africa was formulated in key policy documents and strategic initiatives geared towards integration and prosperity on the continent. The ACQF responds to objectives set by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its First Ten Year Implementation Plan (2023). The main AU policies and political initiatives underpinning development of the ACQF are as follows:

ACQF development process is organised into two phases:

Phase 1 (September 2019 to November 2020): Mapping study and networking

  • Baseline evidence and analysis: mapping of the state of play, dynamics, main characteristics and perspectives of qualifications frameworks on the continent; and
  • Engagement with stakeholders, start of capacity development and peer learning on key themes related to qualifications frameworks and systems.

Phase 2 (2020–2022): Development of the ACQF Policy and Technical Document and Action

  • The process moves from evidence creation to the reflection on options and scenarios for the ACQF as a sustainable policy instrument;
  • The draft ACQF policy and technical document reflects the orientations from the discussion with African Union Commission and the ACQF Advisory Group of the scenarios and options for the ACQF.
  • Guidelines are in development to accompany the ACQF policy and technical document. ACQF Guidelines will support further implementation of the ACQF and assist countries and regional stakeholders (institutions and practitioners) interacting with ACQF.
  • The ACQF capacity development programme: building on a mix of delivery and networking modalities to disseminate information, coach national / regional teams, support a network of trained experts and conduct some research activities.

Main outputs and progress – until March 2022

  1. Baseline analysis and evidence: ACQF Mapping Study. Completed and pre-publication: November 2020. Final publication: March 2021. Four country reports were updated in October 2021 (Cape Verde, Egypt, Morocco and Mozambique).

The full collection of ACQF Mapping reports is composed of 13 national, three regional and a comprehensive mapping report – on the state-of-play and perspectives of qualifications frameworks in Africa. The full collection, including four national reports updated in 2021 are accessible in the ACQF website.

  1. ACQF Feasibility report – accessible in three languages at the Resources section of the ACQF website. Completed: end June 2021.

This report was presented and discussed at ACQF Advisory Group meeting of 28 July 2021. On the basis of the three scenarios of the ACQF, the feasibility study deepens the analysis of critical dimensions of feasibility, presents a plan of outputs (horizon 2026) and outlines initial reflections on the options for ACQF governance.

  1. ACQF policy document and Guidelines: first draft completed and submitted to ACQF Advisory Group meeting (13/01/2022).

The first draft was completed in December 2021 and shared with ACQF Advisory Group for discussion, comments, and validation during the 4th meeting (13 January 2022). The 2nd draft builds on the discussion and further comments collected via a process of consultation with all members of the Advisory Group.