This week on Khetha #15

Radio Stations: SABC Radio Stations

Topic: National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
Original Script Written by: Portia Mothiba

Programme Date: 15-18 April 2019
Week: 15
Target Audience: The General public

Script Notes:

  • The programme is entitled: National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • This script will be translated to other official languages and broadcast on 12Broadcasting Services (PBS) radio stations.
  • The programme is characterised by the radio presenter and a guest from the Department of Higher Education and Training.
  • The radio presenter is the main anchor of the programme and he/she will control the activities on the programme.

The objectives of this programme are to:

  • Explain the National Qualifications Framework
  • Clarify NQF levels and explain where qualifications are registered on the NQF
  • Emphasise the importance of studying towards a legitimate qualification
  • Educate about using the NCAP as a method of checking qualifications

The entire programme runs for 30 minutes; which includes Public Services announcements (PSAs).

Opening Billboard: ‘This programme is brought to you by the Department of Higher Education and Training in partnership with SABC Education.’

Programme Introduction

Presenter: Good day and a warm welcome to all our listeners. It is time for another exciting episode of Khetha, brought to you by the Department of Higher Education and Training in partnership with SABC Education. Today we are talking about the National Qualifications Framework, better known as the NQF. We are joined in the studio by our guest speaker from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), ********who will clarify the role and development of the NQF. It’s good to have you on the show ********.

Guest: Good evening ******** and a warm welcome to all our listeners. Thank you for having me on the show.

Presenter: Please explain to us, what is the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)?

Guest: Firstly, it is important for the listeners to understand that the NQF was designed with the following three things in mind:

  1. Enhancing the quality of education in South Africa;
  2. Creating confidence in the quality of education in South Africa, and
  3. Responding to the changing and diverse needs of South Africans.

The NQF is therefore a comprehensive system approved by the Minister of Higher Education and Training for the classification, registration, publication and articulation of quality-assured national qualifications.

It brings together three Qualifications Sub-Frameworks, namely, the:

  • General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-Framework (GFETQSF);
  • Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF); and
  • Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF).

These three Sub-Frameworks are interdependent and enable learners to move from one Sub-Framework to the other with ease.

In short, the NQF is the set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievements are registered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, thereby ensuring an integrated system that encourages life-long learning.

The NQF ensures that registered qualifications are treated and valued the same across countries. This means that a qualification such as a BA degree in South Africa can be compared to a BA degree in another country.

Presenter: Who is the custodian of the NQF?

Guest: The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is the custodian of the NQF and oversees its further development and implementation.

The objectives of the NQF as outlined in the NQF Act No 67 of 2008 are to:

  • Create a single integrated national framework for learning achievements;
  • Facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within, education, training and career paths;
  • Enhance the quality of education and training;
  • Accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities.

These objectives are designed to contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

Apart from advancing the objectives of the NQF and overseeing its further development and implementation as well as co-ordinating the Sub-Frameworks, SAQA’s role also includes advising the Minister of Higher Education and Training on NQF matters in terms of the NQF Act.

Presenter: Why is it important for our listeners to know about NQF?

Guest: It is important for listeners to know and understand how the NQF works in order for them to be able to navigate their education and training career paths and professional development. The NQF is a framework that enables learners to move up and across levels in their education and training as well as professional development, and also embark on career changes. It affects everyone.

Presenter: Please clarify to our listeners, how does the NQF work?


The NQF is like a plan of a 10-storey building with levels 1 to 10 for learning. It stipulates standards for qualifications and part-qualifications. Put differently, the NQF is like a map or guide that enables learners to chart their education and training path. For example, schooling in South Africa begins under the umbrella of General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-Framework or what is better known as Basic Education. At the end of Grade 9, a learner can either take the vocational route and go to a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College or remain within the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-Framework and read towards a National Senior Certificate at NQF Level 4.

Similarly, a learner who takes the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework route will get a National Certificate (Vocational) also pegged at NQF Level 4. These learners can continue to higher education or obtain other higher occupational qualifications. They can also move across the Sub-Frameworks. The NQF was created to ensure that all this is possible without learners reaching ‘dead-ends’ in their education and training.

Presenter: I hear you are talking about NQF levels, how is the NQF structured?

Guest: The NQF is organised as a series of levels of learning achievements, arranged in ascending order from 1 to 10. Since the NQF have 3 Sub-Frameworks, the NQF levels are categorised into three Sub-Frameworks as follows:.

  • General and Further Education and Training Sub-Framework For example, Grade 9 and General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) or Adult Education and Training Level 4 are both registered at NQF Level 1. The National Senior Certificate and the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) are registered at NQF Level 4.
  • The Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) consists of qualifications that are registered at NQF Levels 5 to 10 and these are quality assured by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). For instance, the qualifications in the HEQSF are registered on the NQF as follows:

- Higher Certificate                                                                                               - NQF Level 5

- Diploma, Advanced Certificate                                                                          - NQF Level 6

- Bachelors Degree, Advanced Diploma                                                              - NQF Level 7

- Honours Degree, Postgraduate Diploma, Bachelors Degree (Professional)    - NQF Level 8

- Masters Degree, Masters Degree (Professional)                                              - NQF Level 9

- Doctoral Degree, Doctoral Degree (Professional)                                            - NQF Level 10

  • The Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF) has levels 1 to 8 occupational qualifications which are quality assured by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). These are mainly offered by colleges, such as the Nated courses: N4- N6 or the National N Diploma qualification which is registered at NQF Level 6.These areworkplace-orientated qualifications. They also include learnerships that that are managed by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

Presenter: You mentioned that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) are at NQF Level 4, what is the difference between these qualifications?

Guest: The National Certificate Vocational (NCV) is a vocationally orientated qualification that gives learners knowledge and skills related to a particular vocational area e.g. marketing, hospitality and engineering among other areas. The NC(V) is offered at colleges. Whereas the NSC is a general academic qualification offered at schools. However, in terms of the National Qualifications Framework, both qualifications are registered at NQF Level 4.

There is a myth that an NCV Level 4 qualification is not as good as a NSC; this is not true at all and the NQF proves that. If you look at the learning outcomes of these qualifications on the NQF you will see that they are very similar. It is important to know that NCV provides experience of the workplace environment and is intended to directly respond to the priority skills demand of the modern economy.

SAQA has created an infographic under the auspices of the CEO Sub-Committee which consists of NQF partners that clearly shows the comparison of these two qualifications. The infographic shows that while both the NSC and the NC(V) are registered at NQF level 4, they serve different purposes. It also shows the number of years it takes to complete these two qualifications and it also shows the pass requirements for these qualifications. I would urge your listeners to go on to the SAQA website ( under Publications and download the infographic under brochures.

Presenter: There are different ways of learning that lead to qualifications , could you please explain this?

Guest: Learning can be formal, informal and non-formal.

Formal learning is learning that occurs in an organised and structured education and training environment that is explicitly designed as such. For example, formal learning takes place in schools, colleges and universities and it often leads to a qualification or part-qualification that is registered on the NQF.

Informal learning is learning that results from daily activities related to paid or unpaid work, family or community life or leisure. In other words, this is learning that occurs organically in an unstructured environment.

Non-formal learning relates to planned learning activities that are not explicitly designed towards the achievement of a qualification or part-qualification that is registered on the NQF. Non-formal learning is often associate with learning that results in improved workplace practice.

It is important for your listeners to understand the different types of learning because not all learning leads to a qualification.

Presenter: What is the difference between a skills programme and a short course?

Guest: A skills programme is an accredited learning programme that is occupationally based and which, when completed, may constitute credit towards a qualification that is registered on the NQF.

A short course on the other hand is a short learning programme through which a learner may or may not be awarded credits towards a qualification or part-qualification, depending on the purpose of the programme.

Presenter: How can our listeners check or verify the NQF level of a qualification?

Guest: Listeners cansearch on the SAQA’s database of registered qualifications and part-qualifications which is available on SAQA’s website: Place the tab on “services” and select “Qualifications and Part-Qualifications” on the drop-down.

Alternatively, they can search for qualifications by using the National Career Advice Portal (NCAP). The NCAP contains qualifications that are registered on the NQF. Visit the NCAP site on: On the home page; click and browse through the qualifications icon.

Listeners can also contact the Career Development Services: Helpline for more information.

Presenter: Thank you for the sharing this information with our listeners. Where can listeners get further assistance on the information discussed today?

Guest: Our listeners can reach us through:

  1. SMS with your question or send a “please call me” to 072 204 5056, or
  2. Call 086 999 0123, which is a call share line, from Monday to Friday between 8:00am and 4:30pm,
  3. Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
  4. Visit the CareerHelp website at ,
  5. Visit to our offices at 123 Francis Baard, Pretoria
  6. Facebook at
  7. Twitter at

Listeners can also contact SAQA’s NQF Advisory Services Helpline for more information on SAQA and quality qualifications:

Helpline: 0860 111 673

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Listeners can also contact SAQA via their Facebook page: or on Twitter: @SAQALive

To listen to Khetha podcasts, visit SABC Education platform at

Closing Billboard: ‘This programme was brought to you by the Department of Higher Education and Training in partnership with SABC Education’.