SADCQF: Regional Qualifications Framework boosting its potential - meeting on 11-12 May 2023. News article by: Eduarda Castel-Branco

The Southern African Development Community Qualifications Framework (SADCQF) builds a new impetus for implementation: Special Meeting of the Technical Committee on Certification and Accreditation (TCCA).

Objective of the meeting: a new impetus with focus on the priority areas and inputs to the new Roadmap for implementation of the SADC Qualifications Framework (SADCQF)

Date and place: 11-12 May 2023, in Johannesburg

Resources: the main Report (Review of SADCQF implementation, updated in May 2023) and the Inventory of NQFs in SADC are accessible for viewing and downloading at the dedicated webpage Cooperation with SADC. All Presentations (PPTs) shared and discussed at the meeting can be viewed and downloaded from the event webpage.

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Rationale of the Special TCCA meeting

In line with the directive of the Ministers of Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation of June 2022, SADC Secretariat, with the technical and financial support of the European Training Foundation (ETF) successfully conducted the Special meeting of the Technical Committee on Certification and Accreditation (TCCA) on 11-12 May 2023, in Johannesburg, to discuss the recommendations emanating from the study which reviewed SADCQF Implementation (SADCQF Implementation review study, 2022).

This Special TCCA meeting was conducted under the umbrella of the Implementation Plan of the project ACQF-II. This meeting was the second activity of the project, which started in April 2023. You can learn more on the goals and plans of the ACQF-II from the news article.

Implementation of the SADC Qualifications Framework (SADCQF) started in 2016, and in 2021 SADC Secretariat with expertise of the European Training Foundation (ETF), conducted a study to review the status of implementation and identify areas for further improvement of the SADCQF. This study was part of the research activities of the Project “Developing the African Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF-I)”. The findings of the study were discussed at two TCCA meetings (November 2021 and April 2022) and presented to the annual Joint Ministerial meeting (Education and Training, Science Technology and Innovation) held in Malawi in June 2022. The recommendations of the study were noted and endorsed by the Ministers.

In the five years of its existence, the SADCQF implementation model showed resilience in the face of challenges and severe resource limitations and was able to deliver tangible contributions towards some of the defined purposes. The countries’ commitment to accepting responsibility for the five implementation programmes was a unique strategy to progress with technical activities, create mutual trust between countries and generate a first tangible home-grown experience and knowledge on SADCQF, which will always be a reference point for the future of SADCQF and other RQFs in Africa.

Despite the joint efforts, the objectives set in the SADCQF Roadmap (2019-2023) were only partially achieved. The main gaps are visible in terms of the governance setting, which remains under-resourced and without an implementation unit; delayed methodological support to improve articulation in education and training / qualifications pathways; slow pace of alignment initiatives between NQFs and SADCQF; no follow-up actions related with use of SADCQF levels on newly issued qualifications in countries aligned to SADCQF. Reflection and development of common / regional standards of qualifications was not initiated, but the region could be better prepared in the phase ahead to embark in this important new line of work. The importance of capacity development and experience-sharing shows no signs of abating, all countries express readiness to engage and participate.


Mr. Nicolas M. Bilengalenga (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ministry of TVET and Occupations) chaired the meeting. The Special TCCA meeting was well attended: 29 representatives (onsite) and approx. 15 online from 14 SADC member states have actively participated in the 12 main thematic sessions of the programme. Other participants: SADC Secretariat (3 representatives), the key expert (ETF) and the expert of ACQF team.

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Themes of the Special TCCA Meeting

The Special TCCA meeting (11-12 May 2023) discussed the priorities recommended by the SADCQF Review report and provided valuable contributions to the Roadmap for implementation of the SADCQF (2023-2026). The priority themes recommended by the SADCQF review study for the new Roadmap (2023-2026) were discussed at the Special TCCA meeting, through sessions combining conceptual presentations, targeted questionnaires (polls), free comments and complemented by structured elaboration of the inputs for the new roadmap for SADCQF (2023-2026).

Themes of the main sessions on the agenda of the TCCA meeting:

  1. Governance of SADCQF
  2. Cooperation with the NQFs of SADC Member States
  3. Comparability of qualifications: common profiles of qualifications
  4. Digitisation – implications for qualifications frameworks
  5. Level descriptors: comparisons
  6. Micro-credentials: a general overview, reflections
  7. Cooperation with ACQF-II project
  8. Inputs for the Roadmap of SADCQC Implementation (2023-2026)

Status of National Qualifications Frameworks in SADC: brief updates

The first session of the workshop was fully dedicated to sharing of updates on the status of development and implementation of NQFs in SADC. Nine countries presented the achievements, challenges and plans related to technical aspects and governance of their NQFs. These countries are Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Currently almost 70% (11 countries) of SADC member states are implementing comprehensive National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs), encompassing all levels and subsectors of education and training, and acknowledging learning in different contexts (formal, non-formal, informal). All SADC NQFs have adopted a 10 levels structure, which reflects certain similarities in education and training traditions, and more recently also the influence of SADCQF. These developments have started over twenty years ago – Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius – and have seen some acceleration in the last five years, with NQF development actions in new countries. The NQFs in the SADC are at different stages of development and implementation, as summarised below. Despite progress, all NQFs in the region will require consistent implementation leadership, resources, and mutual learning with peers in the region and beyond. The experiences and struggles of the more advanced NQFs are invaluable references for the new countries just starting implementation. NQF are not just a matrix of levels, and do not deliver automatically on their promise.

The nine countries shared updates on the status of their registers of qualifications, notably on progress with development and inclusion of new qualifications aligned with NQF principles. Angola reported on the new TVET qualifications recently developed in line with competence-based approach and in cooperation with sectoral committees. Botswana provided an overview on the transition from legacy qualifications to NQF-aligned qualifications, and on the advocacy and support mechanisms to get the buy-in of the providers to engage in the process. This process required persistence and effort but had a positive result: over 85% of all legacy qualifications in Botswana have been revised.

Eswatini reported on the new governance arrangement of the NQF, based on the recently established Eswatini Qualifications Authority. Mozambique and Angola clarified the objectives, level structure and implementation plans of their recently approved comprehensive NQFs, providing concrete examples of diverse governance solutions fitting the context. The Angolan NQF is managed by the National Qualifications Institute, while in Mozambique the NQF is coordinated by the Technical NQF Commission, which gathers all sub-sectors of education and training and employment policy institutions.

Seychelles referred to new developments and initiatives to strengthen and improve the NQF, notably the adoption of the new SQA Act, review of the NQF Regulations, of Standards and Criteria for Programme Accreditation, and policies and manuals. Most importantly SQA is starting a wider review of the NQF in June 2023. Zambia reported on the review of several elements of the NQF, notably of the qualifications matrix and clarification of the place of “A levels” to facilitate understanding the Zambian qualifications and ease recognition abroad (e.g.: UK-NARIC).

  • Six countries have NQFs that have been operational for some time, and some have been reviewed: Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Zambia.
  • Five countries have NQFs in place (legal act approved, implementation started): Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
  • Three other countries are at the stage of development and consultation for their comprehensive and integrated NQFs, with some progress in the 2020-2022 period: Madagascar, and Malawi. Tanzania has developed the NQF for a while, and is in the process of official approval and start of implementation.
  • Two countries are at a very early stage of NQF development: Union of Comoros and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Comoros started steps to develop its NQF, in a process linked with the programme supporting enhancement of the TVET system. The Democratic Republic of Congo is starting development of a comprehensive NQF, in a process coordinated by the Ministry of TVET and Occupations.

TCCA members discussed and provided valuable contributions for the new Roadmap for SADCQF Implementation.

Inputs for the Roadmap of SADCQC Implementation (2023-2026)

Themes tabled for discussion and proposals by TCCA member - for participative design of the new roadmap:

  1. SADCQF Guidelines and Manuals on RPL, CAT, Recognition (& other themes) – dissemination, training, support to application / transposition at country level.
  2. Streamlining and reactivating alignment/referencing to SADCQF: support and invite all SACD member states to plan and participate in the process. Revise and update the Booklet (2017).
  3. Follow-up to alignment: Use of SADCQF levels on newly issued qualifications documents of NQF aligned/referenced to the SADCQF: develop the concept and guideline, submit it to approval by the ministers.
  4. New developments related to digitalisation of qualifications management, micro-credentials, common profiles (occupations, qualifications and new skills): develop the concept note, constitute a dedicated working group, raise funding, partnerships, roadmap.
  5. Capacity development and peer sharing: national level, SADC level, and wider international level
  6. Strengthening of cooperation with the ACQF and EQF
  7. Monitoring and evaluating systems and instruments to support a plan-do-monitor-review approach for SADQF implementation.
  8. On improved governance, organisation, resources of the implementation of SADCQF

Participants and the Chair commended SADC Secretariat and ETF for the successful organisation of the meeting. Further consultation at SADC political level is planned for June 2023.