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A world first for South Africa
Dr Jody P. Cedras, Director of
Registration & Recognition, SAQA

Professional Bodies are recognised and Professional Designations registered as a policy innovation provided for in the National Qualifications Framework Act, Act 67 of 2008 (The NQF Act).

SAQA is the State's entity mandated to further develop and implement the NQF in the effort to improve quality, promote access to, and accelerate redress in, education and training. Part of this mandate of SAQA is to develop and implement policy and criteria for the recognition of professional bodies and the registration of professional designations. The Policy and Criteria for the Recognition of Professional Bodies and the Registration of Professional Designations for the Purposes of the NQF Act was developed and approved by the SAQA Board in June 2012.

Through this Policy and Criteria, SAQA recognises statutory and non-statutory professional bodies. These bodies represent and regulate communities of expert practitioners, through continuous professional development (CPD), ensuring ethical practices to protect the public interest as well as awarding professional designations. Not only is the public protected against unscrupulous professional practices, but membership of a professional body also protects the professional against unfounded and unfair accusations from the public. Professional bodies that are recognised through the NQF process are expected to have in place sound ethics and disciplinary mechanisms to ensure that these interests, of both the public and the professional, are protected.

Professional bodies have not been spared the history of South Africa. It is therefore imperative that SAQA must ensure that there are no exclusionary or unfair gate-keeping practices. NQF-recognised professional bodies are expected to get involved in career advice and development initiatives in an effort to break the barriers that have been entrenched in many professions over the decades and in doing so, broaden access.

On 29 January 2013, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, launched the Policy and Criteria at a gala event, where certificates were handed to the recognised Professional Bodies. The Public Relations Institute of South Africa (PRISA) was amongst the first wave of recipients following its recognition on 27 November 2012.

SAQA believes that the recognition process will ultimately lead to better quality opportunities for learners by ensuring that there is a proper understanding and convergence of the standards required in the academic and professional fields respectively. There is a constant interplay between the curriculum and the profession it serves which must be made transparent. This can only enhance the synergy between the academy and professions.

By recognising professional bodies, SAQA is encouraging social responsiveness and accountability within the professions, and promoting pride in association for all professions. The recognition of these bodies also encourages international leading practice.

The Government of South Africa has shown visionary leadership by being the first country to be implementing policy and criteria for the recognition of professional bodies and the registration of designations incorporated in our NQF legislation. This shows that we recognise the critical role that professional bodies can play in quality assurance and standards development in our search for that delicate balance between protecting the public interest and enhancing professional integrity.

January 2014

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