SAQA’s Policy Document “Criteria and Guidelines for Provider” states the following:

A body may be accredited as a provider by an Education and Training Quality Assurance Body whose primary focus coincides with the primary focus of the provider.

Criteria for Providers:

In order to be accredited, SAQA has stated that,

A body may be accredited as a provider by an Education and Training Quality Assurance Body whose primary focus coincides with the primary focus of the provider, provided that the body seeking accreditation –

1 . Is registered as a provider in terms of the applicable legislation at the time of application for accreditation;

2 . Has a quality management system which includes but is not limited to –

– quality management policies which define that which the provider wishes to achieve;

– quality management procedures which enable the provider to practice its defined quality management policies; or,

– review mechanisms which ensure that the quality management policies and procedures defined are applied and remain effective;

3 . Is able to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes which culminate in specified registered standards or qualifications;

4 . Has the –

– necessary financial, administrative and physical resources;

– policies and practices for staff selection, appraisal and development;

– policies and practices for learner entry, guidance and support systems;

– policies and practices for the management of off-site practical or work-site components where appropriate;

– policies and practices for the management of assessment which include appeals systems;

– necessary reporting procedures; and,

– the ability to achieve the desired outcomes, using available resources and procedures considered by the Education and Training Quality Assurance Body to be needed to develop, deliver and evaluate learning programmes which culminate in specified registered standards or qualifications contemplated in paragraph (c); and,

5 . Has not already been granted accreditation by or applied for accreditation to another Education and Training Quality Assurance Body contemplated in Regulation 2 of the ETQA Regulations.


Outcomes-based Education and Training (OBET) makes use of formative and summative assessments.

Formative assessment refers to assessment that takes place during the process of learning and teaching.

Summative assessment is assessment for making a judgement about achievement. This is carried out when a learner is ready to be assessed at the end of a programme of learning.

Achievement is the recognition granted to a learner when all required learning outcomes have been successfully demonstrated.

An Assessor is the person who is registered by the Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (ETQA) / or Quality Assurance Partner (QAP) in accordance with criteria established by the Standards Generating Body (SGB) to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications.

Applied competence is the ability to put into practice, in the relevant context, the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a unit standard and/or qualification.

The SETA turn-around time for the processing of accreditation applications is a minimum of 90 working days, however the time taken to complete the accreditation process will be delayed considerably if the criteria for accreditation have not been met I any way. Delays as a result of training providers not having the required understanding, knowledge and expertise in the requirements for accreditation can delay the process for years. It is therefore recommended that training providers use the services of companies who have the required expertise in the field of accreditation to ensure success.

The SETAS do not charge for their role in the accreditation process at this point, however there is a cost for the development of a Training Provider Quality Management System and for Managing the Accreditation Process if the accreditation project is outsourced to an Accreditation Service Provider such as SETA Accreditation Services.

As an outsourced Accreditation Service Provider, the cost of our services varies and is dependent on a number of factors including how much input is required from us for the accreditation process. We recognise that each business is unique and that there is not a “one size fits all” solution when getting your business accredited. Therefore, after an obligation free consultation with us we will provide you with a tailor-made solution that meets with your budget.

An accredited provider is any person or body who, having met the quality assurance criteria laid down by SAQA, has been formally recognised by SAQA through the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (ETQA)

Accreditation is the certification, usually for a particular period of time, of a person, a body or an institution as having the capacity to fulfil a particular function within the quality assurance system set up by SAQA. Accreditation describes the processes and criteria by which the Quality Assurance Partner will give formal recognition that an institution, body or person is competent in terms of a specific purpose, for example as an assessment agency, as an assessor, a moderator or as a provider of education and training services.

Integrated assessment refers to:

  • Assessing a number of outcomes together
  • Assessing a number of assessment criteria together
  • Assessing a number of unit standards together
  • Using a combination of assessment methods and instruments for an outcome/outcomes
  • Collecting naturally occurring evidence (such as in a workplace setting)
  • Acquiring evidence from other sources such as supervisors’ reports, testimonials, portfolios of work previously done, logbooks, journals, etc.

Is the process of gathering and weighing evidence in order to determine whether learners have demonstrated outcomes specified in unit standards and/or qualifications registered on the NQF. The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Plan and conduct assessment of learning outcomes’ outlines the process in detail. The management of assessment is the responsibility of providers

The process of collecting evidence of learners’ work to measure and make judgments about the achievement or non-achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications

Applied competence is the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

Constituent means belonging to the defined or delegated constituency of an organization or body referred to in the SAQA ETQA regulations. ETQA’s have constituent providers, constituent learners and constituent assessors.

Core learning means the compulsory learning required in situations contextually relevant to the particular qualification/s.

Credits are a measure of the notional hours or learning time that it would take the average learner to meet the prescribed outcomes. This includes contact time, structured learning, workplace learning, assesment and self-study. (10 notional hours = 1 credit.)

Means that value assigned by the National Authority to ten (10) notional hours of learning.

Critical outcomes are the generic outcomes which inform all teaching and learning.

Critical Cross-Field Outcomes refer to those generic outcomes that inform all teaching and learning. For example, CCFOs may include working effectively with others as a member of a team, and/or collecting, analysing, organising and critically evaluating information.

It is a body accredited in terms of section 5 (1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act, responsible for monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the monitoring and auditing of national standards or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5 (1)(b)(i) of the Act.

Exit level outcomes are the outcomes to be achieved by a qualifying learner at the point at which he or she leaves the programme leading to a qualification and achievement of which entitles the learner to a qualification. They are the defined points of learning in a qualification at which a learner may leave the programme with recognition of learning achieved.

A Facilitator is an individual who facilitates learning processes and activities and manages and administers assessment: educator, teacher, trainer, mentor etc.

Education, Training and Development Practitioner, is a term used to include the whole spectrum of educators and trainers: teachers, trainers, facilitators, tutors, markers, lecturers, development, officers, mentors and the like.

Learnerships are training programmes that combines theory at a college or training centre with relevant practice on-the-job. There is no learnership if there is no on-the-job practice. The idea is that people really learn the “ins and outs” of an occupation by practicing all its aspects under the guidance of an experienced and qualified person. In order to become qualified themselves, learners will have to be assessed against occupational standards that have been agreed in advance by industry stakeholders. Learnerships are based on legally binding agreements between an employer, a learner and a Training Provider. This agreement is intended to spell out the tasks and duties of the employer, the learner and the Training Provider. It is designed to ensure the quality of the training and to protect the interests of each party. Employers can offer learnerships to their own employees or can recruit unemployed people for training. Current employees who are provided with learnerships are referred to as 18(1) learners. Unemployed people who are offered learnerships are known as 18(2) learners.

A learning programme is a structured set of learning offerings and related assessment and attainment requirements. It is a combination of courses, modules or units of learning (learning materials and methodology) by which learners can achieve the learning outcomes for a qualification.

A level descriptor is a statement describing a particular level of the ten levels of the National Qualifications Framework. A level descriptor provides a broad indication of learning achievements or outcomes that are appropriate to a qualification at that level. There is one set of level descriptors for the NQF.

Moderation is a process undertaken by a Constituent Moderator to ensure that people who are being assessed are assessed in a consistent, accurate and well-designed manner. It ensures that all assessors who assess a particular unit standard or qualification, are using comparable assessment methods and are making similar and consistent judgements about learners’ performance. Moderation of assessment occurs at both the level of the provider (internal moderation), and at the level of the ETQA (external moderation).

Internal moderation

Internal moderation ensures that assessments conducted in a single learning provider, are consistent, accurate and well-designed.

External moderation

External moderation is a means of ensuring that two or more providers delivering programmes to the same unit standards and qualifications, are assessing consistently to the same standard, and in a well-designed manner. External moderation systems are managed by the ETQA’sIs the process of ensuring that assessments of the outcomes described in the NQF standards and qualifications have been conducted in line with agreed practices, and are fair, reliable and valid.  The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Moderate assessments’ outlines the process in detail. One moderator usually checks the work of several assessors to ensure consistency. The management of moderation is the responsibility of the provider.

The NLTD is an electronic information system that assists the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to manage the National Qualifications Framework

A NSB is a body registered in terms of the SAQA Act, responsible for establishing education and training standards and qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the registration of national standards and qualifications have been assigned.

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a framework on which standards and qualifications, agreed to by education and training stakeholders throughout the country, are registered.

The NQF is the 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 life-long learning.

A short course is a type of short learning programme through which a learner may or may not be awarded credits, depending on the purpose of the programme.

A Credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which credits, in relation to the course’s contribution to a particular programme, unit standard and/or (part) qualification, is are awarded. (Paraphrased from CHE, 2001:44). A credit-bearing short course contains less than 120 credits.

A Non-credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which no credits are awarded in relation to unit standards or (part) qualifications depending on the purpose and/or assessment of the programme.

A Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) is a body established under the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c) whose main purpose is to contribute to the improvement of skills in South Africa through achieving a more favourable balance between demand and supply, and by ensuring that education and training.

  • acknowledges and enhances the skills of the current work force, (in addition to ensuring that new entrants to the labour market are adequately trained);
  • meets agreed standards within a national framework;
  • is provided subject to validation and quality assurance; and
  • where appropriate, is benchmarked against international standards (NTB, 1999).
  • monitor education and training in the sector.

The full list of SETA functions is contained in the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c).

Firstly, you need to have permission from your relevant ETQA.
Secondly there are acceptable principles to guide you as to how to use the SAQA trademarks. These are available on the SAQA website under the Policy on acceptable usage of SAQA trademarks by stakeholders.

Core Criteria for Education and Training Providers:


  1. Policy Statement – The organisation’s aims, objectives and purposes need to be spelt out.
  2. Quality management systems – Identify processes and outline procedures that implement quality management in the organisation.
  3. Review mechanisms – Outline the ways in which the implementation of policies would be monitored.
  4. Programme delivery – Outline how learning programmes would be developed, delivered and evaluated.
  5. Staff policies – Outline policies and procedures for staff selection, appraisal and development.
  6. 6. Learner policies – Policies and procedures for the selection of learners are outlined, and learners are given guidance and support.
  7. Assessment policies – Outline policies and procedures for forms of assessments that are used and how they are managed.
  8. Management system and policies – Indicate the financial, administrative and physical structures and resources of the organisation, as well as procedures of accountability within the organisation.

SAQA is the body responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework, established in terms of the SAQA Act no. 58 of 1995

General assessment has got the formative and summative components. With RPL assessment, it is mostly the summative component with formative done only by a candidate where further action is taken after the advisory session. When assessing candidates for RPL, they are assessed against the same Unit standards and exit level outcomes of qualifications using the same assessment criteria as for other full-time learners. What is demanded of a full-time learner has to be met fully by an RPL candidate during assessment.

Assessment of RPL learners can be on a one to one basis or even on group basis just like full time learners.

Certificates obtained through RPL should be the same as those obtained through full time learning so as to prevent discrimination of the RPL candidates.

Here are some of the reasons why RPL is done:

  • To redress the historical disadvantages like exclusion of many people from education and training because of regulations used by institutions, exclusion from certain jobs of certain population groups, etc.
  • To validate people’s skills and knowledge
  • For broader development of individuals
  • To facilitate access to jobs and progression in career paths
  • For recognition in terms of grading and pay/salary
  • For planning through skills audits
  • To promote employment equity

RPL is the comparison of the previous learning and experience of a learner howsoever obtained against the learning outcomes required for a specified qualification or unit standard and the acceptance for purposes of qualification of that which meets the requirements as specified in the accreditation documentation. Recognition of prior learning is giving credit to what learners already know and can do regardless of whether this learning was achieved formally, informally or non-formally.

It is a learner who has obtained a unit standard and/or qualification.

QCs are new sector-based structures responsible for the development and quality assurance of qualifications in their sub-frameworks of the NQF. There are three QCs for the three main sectors in education namely general and further education and training, higher education, and the occupational sector. Umalusi is the QC for General and Further Education and Training as provided for in the GENFETQA Amendment Act. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is the QC for Higher Education as provided for in the Higher Education Amendment Act. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations is the QC for occupations and is provided for in the Skills Development Amendment Act.

Quality Assurance means the sum of activities that assure the quality of products and services at the time of production or delivery. Quality assurance procedures are frequently applied only to the activities and products associated directly with the goods and services provided to external customers.

A Quality Management System is the written combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved. A quality management system is the sum of the activities and information an organization uses to enable it to better and more consistently deliver products and services that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its customers and beneficiaries, more cost effectively and cost efficiently, today and in the future.

The composition of all Qualifications is as follows:

  • Title of Qualification
  • Field and Subfield
  • Level
  • Credits
  • Rationale for the Qualification
  • Purpose
  • Rules of Combination
  • Access to the Qualification
  • Learning assumed to be in place
  • Exit Level Outcomes and their Associated Assessment Criteria
  • Critical Cross-Field Outcomes
  • International Comparability
  • Integrated Assessment
  • Recognition of Prior Learning
  • Articulation
  • Moderation Options
  • Criteria for the Registration of Assessors
  • Notes (Optional)
  • Unit Standard Title Matrix

What is the difference between a Qualification and a learning programme? Qualifications and Unit Standards, governed by the NSB regulations and developed by expert stakeholder groupings, prescribe the outcomes, assessment criteria and other relevant detail for learner achievement. These guide the educator/assessor with regard to what the learner needs to know, do and apply. A learning programme consists of learning and assessment activities derived from the outcomes that make up the Qualification. This is what the provider designs, based on sound educational principles (for example, learner-centredness). This manual offers a systematic way of planning learning and assessment activities that will assist the learner to achieve the desired knowledge, skills, applications and attitudes. The learning programme is really the what, the when and the how of implementation. It is about what happens in the classroom: the teaching/ learning and assessment activities associated with achieving outcomes. It is clearly the task of providers to structure exciting, challenging and innovative learning and assessment experiences for learners, while it is the job of the ETQA to consider whether providers have offered learners a fair opportunity to acquire the outcomes by monitoring the learning programme and quality assuring the learning achievement.

In SAQA terms a qualification is:

A planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined purpose(s) that is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning.

The formal recognition of the achievement of the required number and range of credits and other requirements at specific levels of the NQF determined by the relevant bodies registered by SAQA.

A qualification represents a planned combination/sequence of national unit standards that are intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning.

Primary focus means that activity or objective within the sector upon which an organization or body concentrates its efforts.

A provider is an education and training body (institution/organization, company, centre, collaborative partnership, or consultancy) which delivers learning programmes that culminate in specified NQF standards or qualifications and manages the assessment thereof.

A national unit standard (or unit standard) is a description of the end points of learning. It is the smallest unit that can be credited to a learner. It may be stand-alone, but generally forms part of a qualification. It is a statement of expectation and / or aspiration and forms the basis for the judgements or assessments that are made.

“Notional hours of learning” is the learning time that it is conceived it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined, and includes concepts such as contact time, time spent in structured learning in the workplace and individual learning etc.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is responsible for the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The primary objective of the NQF is the creation of a high-quality education and training system in South Africa that embraces the concept of life-long learning for all. One of the features of a quality system is the ability to manage and report information about the system accurately. The National Learners` Records Database (NLRD) is the electronic management information system that facilitates the management of the National Qualifications Framework and enables the South African Qualifications Authority to report accurately on most aspects of the education and training system of South Africa.

The NQF is a single integrated system which comprises of three co-ordinated qualifications sub-frameworks:

  • General and Further Education and Training Sub-framework
  • Occupational Qualifications Sub-ramework
  • Higher Education Sub-framework

The objectives of the NQF 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.

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

A Skills Programme is occupationally based and when completed will constitute credits towards a qualification registered in terms of the National Qualifications Framework. Provisioning is undertaken by a training provider accredited by an Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (Skills Development Act No. 97 of 1998). A skills programme is a type of short learning programme.

Specific outcomes are written statements of the knowledge, skills and values (demonstrated in context) which support one or more critical outcomes.

Verification is the process by which the recommendations from the provider about the award of credits or qualifications to learners are checked. It is an ETQA function to verify the claims of providers that assessment has been properly conducted and moderated. It is also termed “External Moderation”.