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‘SA doesn't have a qualifications crisis’

The issue has been the subject of substantial debate following Pallo Jordan's resignation.

Saqa has dismissed concerns that the country has a qualifications crisis. Picture: Stock.Xchng.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa) has dismissed concerns that the country has a qualifications crisis.

The issue has been the subject of substantial debate following ANC Member of Parliament (MP) Pallo Jordan's admission that he faked his academic qualifications.

Jordan resigned from the National Executive Committee and Parliament earlier this month.

The ruling party said it received a detailed explanation from Jordan on claims that his qualifications are false.

Jordan has no degrees or diplomas from the University of Wisconsin-Madison or the London School of Economics, the two institutions cited on his CV.

Saqa CEO Joe Samuels says out of 12,000 South African qualifications they have screened in this financial year, 66 were fraudulent, representing roughly 0.6 percent.

He says although the Public Service and Administration Department has given a directive for all government departments to use Saqa to verify qualifications, when it comes to MPs, there is no particular qualification that qualifies them for the work they do.

"So in that particular case, it is up to the individual not to misrepresent their qualifications."

He says at ground level, where people are not in the public eye, it is not difficult to check their qualifications, due to electronic records and because no audit is needed.

This is in contrast to a previous era where you had to dig for qualifications, he says.

"Saqa has all the electronic records from 1992 onwards, but before that, it's a bit more difficult to dig up records."

He says people need to know that misrepresentation is fraudulent and when discovered by Saqa, the police are informed.

"There is a clear register of people who get certificates and we can check electronically. But, not enough people check the qualifications presented to them by simply going back to sources, the university and institutions."

Samuels adds the key question departments need to pose is whether or not they want a person in their employ who has misrepresented him or herself.