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The Directorate: International Education and Partnerships at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) held a second online workshop on Evaluation of International Qualifications on MS Teams last Friday, 18 September 2020.

The online workshop was facilitated by DUT’s Philiswa Mncube, who extended a warm welcome to all administrators from other universities as well as the DUT community for the second session on the Evaluation of International Qualifications. She indicated that this session was a continuation from the first one, which had focused on a number of victors and directorates at DUT and across the higher education landscape in South Africa.

The guest speakers were Annie Viljoen, Acting Senior Manager for Universities South Africa (USAF): Matriculation Board. She gave a brief overview on USAf, formerly known as Higher Education South Africa (HESA), and which is a membership organisation representing all 26 South African public universities. She explained why there is a vital need for exemptions and its processes.

“The Higher Education Act 1010 of 1997 provides for the functions of the Matriculation Board to determine minimum general university admission requirements better known as matriculation endorsement requirements which are determined and are published in the Government Gazette. This act also allows universities to determine their own additional admission requirements,” she said.

She further spoke on the interface between the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and Universities South Africa functions within the similar post-school environment. Viljoen emphasised that the Matriculation Board Unit of Universities South Africa is responsible for administering the Government Gazetted regulations for admission into bachelor’s degree studies.

“In other words, it mainly evaluates applications to establish if applicants meet the exemption requirements and issue exemptions accordingly,” she explained.

On the other hand, she stressed that the SAQA Centre for the Evaluation of Educational Qualifications (CEEQ) unit evaluates foreign academic qualifications to establish their level when compared to South African qualifications of similar nature. Viljoen said that the CEEQ is an operational unit of SAQA, overseeing the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

“In a nutshell, the SAQA (CEEQ) function is in the main about equivalence whereas the Matriculation Board function is to determine whether applications are meeting the minimum degree admission requirements. The Universities South Africa exemption certificate is compulsory whilst the SAQA certificate is optional,” she said.

She further spoke on the condonation processes from when a condonation request is received until the application is finalised.

Adding further into the conversation was Louise Graham, the Finance Officer and Head of the Documentation Section for USAf: Matriculation Board. She spoke on the exemption procedures, what supporting documents were required, especially if the documents were in a foreign language, specifying that it would need to be translated and both the original language and sworn translated documents had to be submitted as well. She also focused on the certification process and the exemption of fees which are adjusted annually by the Joint Matriculation Board and Admissions Committee and approved by the Universities South Africa Board. She concluded by stating that the status of all application can be tracked via the Matriculation Board website:

Also giving his presentation on the minimum admission requirements was Clayton Lesufi, Quality Assurance and Regulation Officer for USAf: Matriculation Board.

He elaborated more on the exemption requirements for foreign school leavers, explaining the details relating to the Cambridge examinations for foreign conditional exemption, and the USA requirements. He concluded by stating that foreign school leavers are also required to apply for conditional or complete exemption with the Matriculation Board of Universities South Africa before they can be considered for placement at various public South African universities.

The final presentation was given by Shaun Swartz, General Manager: General Educational Development (GED) South Africa and Namibia. He is also the founder and CEO of SK Education Solutions with extensive experience in the management of education in schools, colleges and universities. His specific research interests include student retention and the integral use of computers and technology in the classroom, and his company has developed COL Campus and MaaS as well as an education marketplace called COL Campus makes use of integrated tools to promote the exchange of learning and assessment content, whether for face-to-face or distance learning, whilst MaaS monitors every aspect of the learner’s digital footprint in his or her journey to course completion.

He said that the General Educational Development (GED) test was a widely recognised and accepted test for high school (12th Grade) equivalency in the United States and accepted by more than 98% of American universities, and universities across the world. “It is certified as fully aligned with the United States education standards for college and career readiness, and in 2019 learners in more than 90 counties took the GED test,” said Swartz.

He explained that the GED Testing Service is supported and forms part of the Pearson family and is monitored by the America Council on Education (ACE), which also safeguards the GED mission to serve learners worldwide for educational attainment by providing opportunities and reducing barriers.

“The GED test measures knowledge and skills in the areas of reasoning through the language Arts, Mathematical reasoning, Science and Social studies. A minimum score of 145 per subject is required to pass out of 200, which is a 72.5% pass mark. Learners also have the option to study one subject at a time and test one subject at a time,” he said.

He emphasised the vital need for learners who are taking the test to be critical thinkers, explaining more on the assessment standards, certification process and where the Assessment Centres are based.

“All Boston City Campus and Business College VUE Testing Centres are authorised to offer the computer based GED tests in South Africa which have to adhere to stringent examination policies,” he said.

He explained that GED tests had built-insecurity measures to make cheating difficult. “There is a large amount of review and scrutiny after a test subject is taken. The consequences associated with cheating include but are not limited to having a tester’s exam revoked and even prosecution,” he stressed.

Swartz gave more details into the quality assurance processes of assessment, elaborating on the content alignment, assessment guide for educators, the rigorous test development process and the standardisation and norming study. He shared more on the typical South African GED learner which are mainly home schoolers who make up a large portion of test takers.

Pictured: Facilitator of the online workshop, DUT’s Philiswa Mncube.

Waheeda Peters

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