n South African Journal of Higher Education - Qualifications frameworks in Africa : a critical reflection

Volume 23, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Today there is an accelerating trend towards qualifications frameworks as an instrument to develop, classify and recognise formal learning across the African continent, as is also the case across most of Europe, Australasia and the Asia-Pacific region. As more and more countries and regions across the world develop qualifications frameworks to improve harmonisation of education and training systems and comparability of qualifications, it is becoming increasingly evident that Africa has not remained unaffected. At present more than twenty African countries are actively engaged in qualifications framework development, including all Southern African Development Community member states and the SADC region as a whole, not to mention exploratory discussions in other regions and talk of a continent-wide 'African Qualifications Framework'.

Starting from an exploration of the apparent Western and Eurocentric origins of qualifications frameworks, and a realisation that education in Africa was influenced by Western and European ideas long before the advent of qualifications frameworks, we consider the extent to which qualifications frameworks influence the way education and training is organised in the African context. As we critically reflect on the seemingly unquestioned, largely uncritical, and nearly always unopposed move towards qualifications frameworks in Africa, we consider whether qualifications frameworks are able to embrace the distinctive tenets of the African context that can, as described by Catherine Odora Hoppers (2008, 24), make it possible to 'place and name' the collective experiences and abilities that African people bring to the field.

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