South African Qualifications Authority

South African Qualifications Authority

Type Statutory body
Headquarters Pretoria, South Africa[1]
BTC Southern Africa

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a statutory body, regulated in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act No. 67 of 2008.[2] It is made up of 29 members appointed by the Minister of Education in consultation with the Minister of Labour. SAQA is mandated by legislation to oversee the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).[3]

The National Qualifications Framework

The NQF is a framework, i.e. it sets the boundaries, principle and guidelines, which provide a vision, a philosophical base and an organisational structure, for the construction of a qualifications system. Detailed development and implementation is carried out within these boundaries. All education and training in South Africa fits within this framework.

It is national because it is a national resource, representing a national effort at integrating education and training into unified structure of recognised qualifications. It is framework of qualifications i.e. records of learner achievements.

The NQF is a set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, thereby ensuring an integrated system that encourages lifelong learning.

The NQF consist of 10 levels divided into three band; Levels 1 to 4 equate to high school grades 9 to 12 or vocational training, 5 to 7 are college diplomas and technical qualifications, 7 to 10 are university degrees.[4]

Levels Designation
1 Grade 9
2 Grade 10 and National (vocational) Certificates level 2
3 Grade 11 and National (vocational) Certificates level 3
4 Grade 12 (National Senior Certificate) and National (vocational) Cert. level 4
5 Higher Certificates and Advanced National (vocational) Cert.
6 National Diploma and Advanced certificates
7 Bachelor's degree, Advanced Diplomas and B-tech
8 Honours degree, Post Graduate diploma and Professional Qualifications
9 Master's degree
10 Doctor's degree


In October 1995, the South African Qualifications Authority Act (No. 58 of 1995) was promulgated to establish the authority, whose main task was to establish the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The authority started operations in May 1996.

By 2001 the NQF was under review, and after that the 1995 SAQA law was replaced by the National Qualifications Framework Act (No. 67 of 2008). The authority remained in place and so did the updated NQF.


The functions of SAQA are essentially twofold :

SAQA’s primary objective is the promotion of a high quality education and training system in South Africa that embraces the concept of lifelong learning for all.


In order to realise this objective, SAQA has established and maintains the following:

SAQA also has the task of evaluating foreign educational qualifications to determine their South African equivalence. People with foreign qualifications who wish to attend South African education institutions or who wish to enter the South African labour market apply to SAQA to have their qualifications evaluated.

SAQA’s contribution ensures that South Africans have access to quality education and skills development to improve their lives.


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