Aims of the ZQF

 One of the most important questions to be answered is “Why and What does Zambia need the ZQF for?”. The Namibian and South African answers to this question have been outlined above. At the international level, the main reasons for pursuing a qualifications framework can be summarised as follows:
  • Establishment of national standards of knowledge, skills and wider competencies.
  • Promote the quality of education and training provision.
  • Provide a system of coordination and comparing qualifications.
  • Procedures for access to learning, transfer of learning and progression in learning.

There is a diversity of qualifications frameworks from which can be adopted one suitable for a given country situation and objectives. The main features of such qualifications frameworks are illustrated below:

The choices made will be influenced by the following considerations:

  • Political and Economic context
  • Types of Frameworks
  • Underpinning assumptions
  • Implications on the Education and Training System
  • Experiences of other countries
  • Costs

International experience with qualifications frameworks shows that the following lessons are pertinent:

Policy and Strategy Issues

  • Many approaches have been too complex and bureaucratic;
  • Quality may be compromised by not acknowledging the different requirements of  “Basic”, “TVET” and “Higher Education”;
  • Overlapping policies and competing initiatives without determination of their precedence or priorities for implementation;
  • Placing undue reliance on reform of qualifications as an independent lever;
  • Attempting to apply the same rules to different learning situations, whether in formal institutions or workplaces;
  • Rigid registration and accreditation procedures
  • Time for implementation is often underestimated.

Institutional, Organisational, Management  and Financial Issues

  • Unclear responsibilities between national qualifications authorities and Government;
  • Tendency to introduce expensive and complex institutional structures;
  • Assumptions about capacity and costs may be underestimated, leading to resource constraints at implementation;
  • Need for expert contributions rather than stakeholder contribution.

System Tools

  • Need for enabling tools, handbooks, guidelines are often under-estimated

Competencies (Skills, Knowledge, Values)

  • Tendency to focus on the apparatus of standards setting to the detriment of institution building, pedagogy and professional capacity required at the level of provision.
  • Danger of assuming the availability of competencies to translate qualifications into learning and assessment provision;
  • Danger of inconsistency of application of rules and procedures as a result of vested interests and/or lack of understanding capacity;
  • Danger of bad assessment practices compromising quality of assessment – over defining assessment; disjointed assessment; assessment that does not test the integration and application knowledge and skills; dropping grading;
  • Need to develop & resource support systems; institutions;

Inter-relations

  • Loss of trust in credibility of the system, leading to questioning of the quality of the system;
  • Difficulty of communicating with thousands of stakeholders in a wide range of institutions and agencies; creating shared understanding; building on successful traditions and practices and maintaining trust in the new;
  • Understandable and predictable struggles between the representatives of different education and training traditions and values, in particular the resistance of higher education communities to adopting a theory and method of qualifications design that they regard as inappropriate and retrogressive / workplace practitioners wary of the hegemony of academia;
 It is pertinent that, in both Namibia and South Africa, the qualifications frameworks were regarded an instruments towards the attainment of overall national objectives based the social and economic history of these countries. In Namibia, the expectations of the national qualifications framework were:
  • Recognition of current competence and prior learning;
  • Comparison of outcomes from formal and informal learning in and beyond Namibia;
  • Integration of systems to enable horizontal and vertical movement and avoidance of “dead-end” pathways;
  • Comparison of higher education qualifications, including distance and on-line options;
  • Recognition of outcomes and processes;
  • Enabling life-long learning;
  • Comprehensive coverage of learning areas and people;
  • Redress of the inequities of the past;
  • “Democratisation” of education and training through inclusiveness;
  • Relevance of learning and certification;
  • Quality recognition irrespective of pathway.

In South Africa, the South African Qualifications Authority has the overall mandate to oversee the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework in response to the following objectives:

  • Creation of an integrated national framework for learning achievement;
  • Facilitation of access to, and mobility and progression within, education, training and career paths;
  • Enhancement of the quality of education and training;
  • Acceleration of the process of redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities, and thereby contributing to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.