Micro-credentials. Exploring the Dynamics of Micro-Credentials: Insights from Across African States.

The recent ACQF-II survey collected data on the place and trends of micro-credentials in the qualifications and lifelong learning systems in different African countries. 28 countries participated in the survey. Stakeholders express a practically unanimous call for a common continental approach. Authors: Zalán Tamás Jakab, Elzbieta Zutautaite, Gerda Stukienė. PPMI.

The Infographic Report offers a concise overview on the status and perspectives of micro-credentials - in the policy debate and in practice. The full report will be published early May 2024.

A recent survey collected data on the place and trends of micro-credentials in the qualifications and lifelong learning systems in different African countries. More specifically, it gathered information on the common types of micro-credentials, explored organisational differences and investigated various characteristics such as stackability, quality assurance methods, inclusion in NQFs and information requirements. Moreover, the survey gathered stakeholder perceptions, information on the current offering of micro-credentials and future plans. Given the various definitions of micro-credentials used across the globe, respondents were asked to consider various concepts sharing common features of micro-credentials.

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Key Findings:

Usage and Definitions: The survey reveals a nuanced landscape regarding the adoption and formal definitions of micro-credentials across African nations. Approximately 61% of respondents report the use of micro-credentials to some extent, While discussions on micro-credentials have started in most cases, formal definitions are not yet widely adopted. Half of the respondents (18 responses or 50.0%) claim that the formal definition of micro-credentials in their country is in the process of development, this forms a majority compared to other options. Another considerable part (13, 36.1%) indicates that there is no formal definition of the term in their educational system.  

Policy Integration: Despite active discussions in national and regional contexts, micro-credentials have not yet been referred to in official policy documents across the continent (21, 46.7%). However, the prevalence of discussions suggests a growing awareness of their potential impact, paving the way for potential integration into future policy strategies aimed at enhancing educational outcomes and workforce readiness. Results show that almost the majority of the respondents think that micro-credentials are discussed at least to a large extent or very large extent (20, 44.4%).

Sectoral Distribution: A notable trend observed in the survey is the predominant role of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sectors in the provision of micro-credentials (19 countries are providing micro-credentials in TVET). Additionally, higher education (13 countries) is also a priority sector for micro-credentials, while other sectors are much less likely to provide micro-credentials.

Provider Landscape: The survey underscores the diversity of micro-credential providers, ranging from online learning platforms to vocational education and training providers to employer organisations. This varied landscape reflects the multifaceted nature of micro-credentials, catering to diverse learner needs and industry requirements. Trade unions and schools are the least likely providers Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Guinea-Bissau, Seychelles, South Africa and Zambia stand out as countries having the most variety in micro-credential providers.


Types of Micro-Credentials: An analysis of micro-credential types reveals a focus on professional development and skills acquisition, with digital credentials being less prevalent. Professional certificates, skills programs, vocational certificates emerge and partial qualifications emerge as the most widely offered types.

Purpose: Stakeholder perspectives underscore the importance of aligning micro-credentials with evolving labor market needs, positioning them as a flexible tool to equip learners with essential skills. This is evident from the most popular purpose being that micro-credentials should better respond to changing labour market needs, followed by considerations such as providing reskilling and upskilling opportunities, increasing flexibility for learning opportunities and supporting lifelong learning.


Characteristics: Common elements of micro-credentials included in National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) encompass learning outcomes, issuing authority, date of issue, workload, and relationship to existing qualifications. These characteristics play a crucial role in ensuring the quality and comparability of micro-credentials within the broader educational framework. Overall, 9 countries (out of the surveyed 28) indicated that micro-credentials can be included in their NQFs. Furthermore, 7 countries have indicated that these micro-credentials can be stacked up with other qualifications and credentials. The absolute majority indicated that the growth of micro-credentials is expected to a large or a very large extent 

Challenges and Common Approach: Recognition, standardization, and lack of formal definitions emerge as key challenges possibly hindering the widespread adoption of micro-credentials. However, stakeholders express a practically unanimous call for a common continental approach.

Features of High-Quality Micro-Credentials: Recognition by relevant national authorities, as well as education and training organizations, trust by employers, and alignment between supply and demand on the labour market stand out as essential attributes of high-quality micro-credentials. A need for strong quality assurance as well as the possibility of using micro-credentials as blocks towards attaining a full qualification were also underlined.

Conclusions: The survey underscores both the promise and the hurdles surrounding the integration of micro-credentials within African educational systems. While discussions abound and stakeholders express a growing awareness of their potential, formal definitions and policy frameworks are yet to catch up with the momentum. Overcoming challenges of recognition, standardization, and policy alignment demands collective action and a shared commitment to a common continental approach. In navigating these obstacles lies the opportunity to harness the transformative potential of micro-credentials, driving educational innovation, enhancing workforce readiness, and fostering inclusive economic growth across Africa.