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The South African National Qualifications Framework

Here’s what SAQA says

The National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008 provides for the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Every South African has opportunity to climb the NQF.

The NQF is a comprehensive system, approved by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, for the classification, registration and publication of articulated and quality-assured national qualifications and part-qualifications.

The South African NQF is a single integrated system comprising three co-ordinated qualifications Sub-Frameworks for General and further Education and Training, Higher Education and Trades and Occupations.

Objectives of the NQF

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.

South African Qualifications Authority

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) was established by Parliament to:

  • Advance the objectives of the NQF;
  • Oversee the further development and implementation of the NQF;
  • Co-ordinate the Sub-Frameworks.

Framework levels
The NQF is organised as a series of levels of learning achievement, arranged in ascending order from one to ten. Each level on the NQF is described by a statement of learning achievement known as Level Descriptors.
There is one set of level descriptors for the NQF.

The NQF is a single integrated system which comprises of three co-ordinated qualifications Sub-Frameworks. These are:

  • General and Further Education and Training Sub-Framework (GFETQSF)
  • The Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF)
  • The Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF)

The Sub-Frameworks have qualifications registered at the following NQF levels:

  • GFETQSF  – levels 1 to 4;
  • HEQSF  – levels 5 to 10;
  • OQSF  – levels 1 to 6. For NQF levels 7 and 8 the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations can motivate for a qualification only in collaboration with a recognised professional body and the Council on Higher Education, in a process co-ordinated by SAQA.


This useful tool will help you figure out where you are or enable you to effectively explain and illustrate the NQF.

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See the list of different qualifications available in South Africa.
The National Qualifications Framework links all available qualifications and part qualifications.

Progress from NQF Level 1 to 10 through traditional study or follow an occupational qualification route by entering apprenticeships or learnerships.

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