The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has unveiled a digital certificate to help learners with foreign qualifications by reducing the time it takes to get the outcome of an evaluation.
Launched on Monday, the Digital Certificate of Evaluation reduces the lead time it takes to reach the qualification holder because it can be shared in real-time and can be verified in real-time as evidence to support applications for further studies, visas, employment, registration and/or professional licensing in South Africa.
Speaking at the launch of the certificate, SAQA CEO Joe Samuels said SAQA is the first qualifications authority in the world to launch such as digital certificate in a one-year pilot project.
“As part of its mandate, SAQA evaluates foreign qualifications, which means that it first verifies the status and authenticity of foreign qualifications and then compares them to national qualifications by locating them within the South African National Qualification Framework (NQF),” Samuels said.
The NQF Act 67 of 2008 gives SAQA the mandate to provide an evaluation and advisory service for foreign qualifications consistent with the act.
Digital seal and certificates
The digital certificate comes with a digital seal and hyperlinked digital certificates, confirming the information on the paper-based certificates.
The digital seal and certificates make use of a secure link to the SAQA database, where all evaluation outcomes are stored and confirmed.
Samuels said a SAQA survey showed that 76% holders of digital certificates have been accepted by the institutions, and 68% said it was easy for them to get the certificates and able to use them.
The survey also showed that more than 50% use the digital certificates to further their studies, while 28% use them to complete visa applications.
Misrepresentation of qualifications
Samuels said the digital certificate will reduce the issue of misrepresentation of qualifications and fraud. Already, 201 qualifications were found to be misrepresented.
He said he hopes SAQA will be able to move permanently to the digital space.
“Going digital in this way puts SAQA at the forefront of the fourth Industrial Revolution, which embraces digitisation and its benefits.
“This development builds on the efforts SAQA has made to ensure quicker and more efficient evaluation of foreign qualifications through the establishment of the African Qualifications Verification Network in 2016, as well as the Southern African Development Community Qualifications Verification Network in 2017, and SAQA’s ongoing work with members of the Groningen Declaration Network,” Samuels said.
SAQA asked stakeholders and recipients of the digital seals and certificates to share their experiences and ideas in order to help the authority move into the digital era.