The National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill has officially been tabled in parliament.
The proposed laws will empower the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to establish and maintain registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications – including a full evaluation of foreign qualifications.
The new bill also introduces a number of measures to deal with misrepresentation of qualifications – including consequences for persons who misrepresent their qualifications, or organisations that issue qualifications that are invalid.
According to the bill, any person who claims that a qualification or part-qualification has been awarded to him or her by an education institution, skills development provider or foreign institution, where in fact no such qualification or part-qualification has been awarded, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to any sentence which may be imposed for an offence of fraud.
This extends to any person or education institution which fraudulently claims that they are offering a qualification, and any person who reproduces a false data document, certificate, diploma, degree, computer printout or any falsified records in connection with a qualification or part-qualification.
South Africa has long battled with the issue of qualifications and background checks, with the issue coming under the spotlight once again in recent months when it was revealed that the Tshwane mayor’s chief of staff was hired without the required qualifications.
Government has also clamped down on a number of ‘fake colleges‘ in recent months, and has urged urged students and parents to beware of the private institutions of higher education and training that are not registered.