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OTTAWA, ON—(Nov. 12, 2021) Last night, at the Groningen Declaration Network annual meeting, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and World Education Services (WES) signed a partnership agreement that will ensure eligible refugees and displaced individuals can have their qualifications assessed and recognized in South Africa.
A significant number of individuals seeking SAQA’s foreign evaluation services are refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced. They often face challenges in meeting SAQA’s application criteria to have their qualifications assessed for recognition.
WES will serve as a collaborative partner to SAQA in developing a pilot initiative in line with its Recognition Model for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to assess and recognize the credentials of those with incomplete or partial documentation. The one-year pilot will begin in 2022 to develop a customized model for South Africa that incorporates global best practices–including the methodology developed by WES through its Gateway Program, the UNESCO Qualifications Passport, as well as practices from the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). This unique pilot in South Africa will build on established practices and expand into the principles of RPL (recognition of prior learning)-informed documentation process used by WES in its assessment of credentials and qualifications of refugees and displaced individuals.
WES developed a recognized model for evaluating incomplete or partial documentary evidence in 2016. Canada was welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees who were educated and skilled but left their home with little to nothing. They faced challenges in proving their academic qualifications which was preventing them from being able to continue their education or find employment in Canada. After a successful pilot, the program scaled to what is now the WES Gateway Program that assesses the educational credentials of individuals in the U.S. and Canada who have been displaced due to adverse circumstances in their country of education and have limited proof of academic achievements.
“There are millions of people across the globe who are being forcibly displaced. It is imperative that there are appropriate systems in place to ensure that education and skills are recognized—no matter where someone lands. WES is honored to work with SAQA in building and testing a method that works for South Africa,” says WES’ CEO and Executive Director, Esther T. Benjamin.
In her statement, SAQA CEO, Dr Julie Reddy added, “SAQA is committed to providing lifelong learning opportunities, and enabling access to meaningful and sustainable livelihood opportunities to all people who live in South Africa. We welcome this opportunity to work with WES on this exciting and innovative project to validate and recognise the qualification achievements of the refugee community in South Africa.”
WES is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees to achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential evaluation. Through WES Global Talent Bridge, the organization joins with institutional partners, community-based organizations, and policymakers to help immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials fully to utilize their talents and education to achieve their academic and professional goals. Its philanthropic arm, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, supports catalytic leaders and organizations working to build inclusive economies and to ensure that immigrants and refugees can achieve their aspirations and thrive.
SAQA is a statutory entity that was established over 25 years ago to design and implement a transformative National Qualifications Framework to reform and integrate a fractured education and training system. It is the only entity mandated by the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to provide an evaluation and advisory service to recognise the foreign qualifications of its citizens and foreign persons who seek to pursue further studies and work opportunities in South Africa. SAQA is a key player in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Convention which provides a framework for the recognition of academic qualifications throughout Africa and has a special clause on creating a special dispensation for the recognition of qualifications of refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced persons.