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Qualification fraudsters could find themselves behind bars

Written by Allison Cooper

Lying about your qualifications could now lead to jail time, according to the new National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Act which aims to prevent the misrepresentation of qualifications and fraud.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the NQF Amendment Act 12 of 2019 into law on 13 August and it was published for general information on 19 August. It will come into effect when it is made public in the Government Gazette.

According to Joe Samuels, the CEO of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) which oversees the development and implementation of the NQF, the amendments were made to strengthen the NQF Act 2008 in terms of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications. 

The NQF Amendment Act also imposes penalties on qualification fraudsters and on education institutions and skills development providers that falsely claim that they are registered and accredited. 

All providers have to be registered by the Department of Higher Education and Training and must be accredited by the Quality Councils to offer qualifications and part-qualifications that are registered on the NQF.

 “It is a criminal offence for an education institution not to be registered and accredited, let alone offer qualifications that are not NQF registered,” said Samuels.  A person convicted of an offence in terms of the NQF Amendment Act is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both a fine and imprisonment. 

A person or education institution; director or board member of an education institution, foreign institution or its agents; or a skills development provider found breaking this law may be ordered to close the business. 

Penalties can also be extended to anyone who makes or causes a false entry into the National Learners’ Records Database or the misrepresented or fraudulent databases. Ultimately, the Amendment Act seeks to protect the public against unscrupulous education and training providers and to protect government and the private sector from hiring people who do not have authentic qualifications.

Samuels advised the public to always check with SAQA to make sure that an institution is registered and accredited before you enrol. 

For information about SAQA call 0860 111 673 or email  saqainfo@saqa.org.za