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Developing qualification frameworks suitable for different contexts

12 June 2016

Qualifications Frameworks (QFs) are key instruments for educational reforms. Currently, approximately 154 countries and territories have developed or are in the process of developing QFs. The majority of them are low- and middle-income countries.

The international community gathered in Cape Town, South Africa in May 2016, to mark the 20th Anniversary of the South African National Qualifications Framework (SANQF) with the theme, ‘Qualification Frameworks (QFs): Agenda Towards 2030’. Drawing on the Global Inventory of National and Regional Qualifications Frameworks, the event highlighted the significance of NQFs for developing, transition and developed countries in relation to the new Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education. Experts agreed that NQFs can serve as a monitoring and measurement tool to help countries cope with global challenges by providing data on enrolment, learning outcomes and completion rates. Issues about how to improve the comparability, transparency and trust in the qualifications were also raised.

The conference also called attention to the role of cross-border recognition of qualifications in facilitating sustainable development. Representatives from the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf States, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) shared experiences of progress made in developing regional qualification frameworks in their various contexts. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) has been working with countries to establish, enhance or adjust their NQFs to their specific contexts and to current policies and practices. In addition, given the importance of NQFs worldwide, UNESCO is exploring the possibility of developing World Reference Levels (WRLs), international guidelines on quality assurance for cross-border recognition of qualifications based on learning outcomes.