International Seminar: Recognition of Prior Learning for Professional Qualifications and Professional Designations

As Professional Body, SAESI attend as far as possible all SAQA meetings and events in order to comply but also to learn and grow. Below are links to the International Seminar: Recognition of Prior Learning for Professional Qualifications and Professional Designations held on 21 June 2019.



SAESI presents at IMATU Mid Term Conference

Mr Melvin Ramlall, President of SAESI presenting to members of IMATU at its Mid Term Conference. SAESI was invited to participate in the conference during the focus sessions on Service delivery failures and moving local government forward. As could be expected, given the recent challenges in the fire and emergency sector the presentation spawned intense discussions and positive engagements.

Read Mr Ramlall’s full presentation.

The truth about SAESI and its qualifications

The recent questions and challenges raised within the public domain regards illegal qualifications by a splinter group proclaiming itself a professional council is regrettably creating much uncertainty and confusion within the fire and emergency sector that has triggered representations of SAESI before the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), The Council of Higher Education (CHE) and the Quality Council for Trade and Occupancies (QCTO).

Following all of these fake news and engagements, SAESI within the South African context is recognised by SAQA as a trusted Professional Body and also recognised by the QCTO as the Assurance Quality Partner (AQP) of the Local Government Seta (LG Seta).

In the International context SAESI is a voting member of the International Fire Services Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) since 1994 and is authorized to certify the globally accepted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire-fighter programs.

SAESI outside of the United States of America (USA) is the largest Certification Entity in Southern Africa accredited for seventy (70) NFPA programs and is the first Entity in the world to be authorized to certify the Incident Command Programs of NFPA. The resent re-accreditation visit secured SAESI’s Accreditation until 2022 when the next IFSAC visit will take place.

SAESI was founded in 1959 when the need for improving the standards of fire-fighting in South Africa was realised by members located within the dominant municipal employer domain.

In 1985 SAESI registered six (6) levels of Fire Technology Qualifications with the juristic authority being the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) which was adopted as the “prescribed qualifications” upon enactment of the Fire Brigade Services Act, Act 99 of 1987 which read; “prescribe” or “prescribed” means prescribe or prescribed by regulation under section 15 or, except for the purposes of section 11, by guideline recommended by the Board and approved by the Minister; where in section (5)  Chief fire officer.—(1) A controlling authority shall appoint a person who possesses the prescribed qualifications and experience, as chief fire officer to be in charge of its service and in section (6) Members of service.—(1) A controlling authority may appoint any person who possesses the prescribed qualifications and experience, as a member of its service to perform such functions as may be assigned to him by the chief fire officer.

SAESI is also a member of the Fire Brigade Board identified in section 2(2)(e) where the  Fire Brigade Board.—(1) There is hereby established a board known as the Fire Brigade Board, to perform the functions assigned to it in terms of this Act or the regulations contemplated in section 15.

SAESI’s role in this qualification set the required examinations, marked the scripts and issued the certificates and the employer within its services established training centres that provided the education and training aligned to the qualification curriculum.

Through the successive years of transitions and reorganizing of government services these qualifications became embedded within the career path of the fire-fighter within the municipal domain. The Department of Corporate Governance (DCoG) remains legislatively mandated to administer the Fire Brigade Act and recognises within its Municipal Staff Regulations. These qualifications which are voluntarily adopted by the private industry, maritime, military, aviation, rail, forestry and petroleum industries. These qualifications remain dominant, relevant and credible within the sector and are also internationally comparable.

The SAQA Act in 1995 introduced academic reforms and introduced the qualifications framework which was later repealed and transitioned into the Skills Development Act of 1996 that introduced further reforms that mandated the Local Government Seta as the authority responsible for the development of education and training needs within the Fire-fighting Sector.

SAESI in aligning with the changes handed over its distant learning program to National Colleges Limited T/A Success College to provide the distance education and SAESI as their partner set and marked the examinations and issued the certificates. This relationship with Success College prematurely ended in 2003 when Success College were unable to re-register the qualifications under their name with SAQA.

As SAESI is a member funded institute its members resolved to sustain the Success Distance Learning mandate not to prejudice its members career path and remuneration, whilst it collaborated with the juristic bodies mandated by legislation to develop and register the qualifications on the national qualification framework (NQF) of SAQA.

At this point there are three (3) relevant Qualifications registered with SAQA, Occupational Certificate: Fire-fighter, NQF Level 4 (ID 98991) which articulates horizontally to Further Education and Training Certificate: Fire and Rescue Operations, NQF Level 4 (ID 57803), and articulates vertically to National Certificate: Emergency Services Supervision: Fire and Rescue Operations, NQF Level 5 (ID 64390).

The current educational environment promotes lifelong learning and SAQA has accordingly published enabling policies for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) and various others that ensure all formal and non-formal learning is considered by education institutions that would enable learners to integrate and articulate towards professionalization.

This allows members to engage directly with learning institutions and produce the SAESI Certificates for assessment that would translate to credit accumulation and access into required fields of study. All new qualifications developed must satisfy SAQA policy of international comparability and most short course proficiency programs of the NFPA standards are considered as benchmarks within the current development.

SAESI members have over the years remained strong in their resolve not to become an education service provider and remain a quality assurance body as it represents the community of expert practitioners spanning the entire range of the sector that are best placed to ensure the standards of education training and development adds value to the protection of our people, their properties and our environment.

SAESI engaged and is still attempting to engage with the only other role player presenting Fire Technology in the educational landscape, namely Tshwane University of Technology. Agreements came to regarding the development and presenting of a Distance Learning Programme that will both satisfy industry needs and serve the members have not been honoured by TUT as the programme would have been rolled out in 2017 already. Seeking written confirmation and further engagements with TUT in order to assist where possible in the interest of industry and our members have failed with no consultation or communique from TUT.

In the absence of this programme, SAESI has no choice but to continue with its in house education programme in Fire Technology to serve our members and industry.

Members are therefore urged to attend and participate in meetings of their respective branches and management and not to allow themselves to fall prey to the deliberate negative misconception of SAESI being publicized on social media and other platforms. Members should ask themselves that if SAESI’s qualifications are all of a sudden illegal or invalid just because it is not on the NQF, then surely ALL Qualifications pre the inception of the NQF which will include all Academic Qualifications obtained also become illegal and invalid.

 Compiled by SAESI President and Management

Approved Professional Bodies Advertorial

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act requires the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to recognise professional bodies and register their professional designations on the NQF. This only happens if the professional body meets the SAQA Policy and Criteria for recognising professional bodies and registering professional designations.

Benefits of being a SAQA recognised professional body:

  • Recognition as trusted professional bodies through an Act of Parliament
  • Part of a national database of professional bodies that uphold high standards of competence and ethics
  • Registration of professional designations on the most comprehensive national database of learner achievements
  • Exposure to best practice through access to fora that improve professional bodies functions

SAQA recognises a professional body if it:

  • Complies with, and adheres to, good corporate governance practices
  • Protects the public interest in relation to services provided by its members
  • Promotes professional development of its members to meet their relevant designation requirements
  • Has a code of conduct for its members to adhere to
  • Does not apply unfair exclusionary practices in terms of membership admission


Approved Professional Bodies Advertorial

New conference format drives interaction

By: Ilana Koegelenberg – Assistant Editor

Last year things were done a little bit differently at the SAESI 2015 conference, where each of the sessions were followed by breakaway groups, culminating in a final outcomes ‘game plan’On Thursday and Friday, 5-6 November 2015, the Black Eagle conference venue at Nasrec, Johannesburg sat full of industry delegates who came from all over the country (some even from beyond our borders) to discuss the three pillars identified for building resilient communities. The proceedings were well attended and everyone had their turn to contribute to the conversation.“The traditional way where speakers are presenting after one another with delegates only allowed a few minutes for questions afterwards, is not conducive to achieving any objective,” explained Moshema Mosia, City of Ekurhuleni’s head of Disaster and Emergency Management Services (EMS) and conference speaker. The topical theme around which the conference were structured, was a very relevant issue. “The theme of the conference, ‘Building resilient communities’, constitutes an emerging trend in the industry and is something currently on the dashboard of the industry worldwide.”Risk management
The first pillar the delegate team ‘tackled’ was ‘risk management’. Schalk Lubbe got the conversation started with his presentation, suggesting a National Plan for Risk Management that is supported by all industry role players and partners.

During the breakaway sessions, delegates were divided into two groups – one led by Marius Atterbury, Eskom’s senior fire and emergency risk management advisor, and the other by Peter May, senior advisor of fire risk and emergency management for Eskom Holdings, to discuss the topic at hand. Both groups agreed that a national risk management plan was definitely a good idea and worth working towards. “Informal settlements are here to stay and this risk requires an intervention to mitigate the loss of life,” – just one of the comments from the breakaway session.

The session groups also looked at whose responsibility it would be to make such a plan happen and the conclusion? “We are all responsible for making this work!”

Various other great suggestions came from the sessions as the leaders (Atterbury and May) left no stone unturned in making sure everyone got to have their say (even the ones that were sometimes unwilling). From training on building materials to teach informal settlements how to mitigate the risk of fires, to suggestions of an early alarm system and better spacing between structures – delegates had a lot of ideas.

In the end, the groups agreed that although a National Management Plan should be developed and cascaded down throughout the municipalities, they shouldn’t have to wait for an official plan to get started!

The second pillar was investigated on 5 November, with Paul Motsepe, the West Rand District Municipality’s PIER officer, leading the way with his presentation on the Public Information Education and Relations (PIER) Working Group. He investigated the four pillars of proactive approach for community education individually (Public, Information, Education and Relation). Motsepe also looked at key tasks that have to be undertaken to up education in the industry.

In the education breakaway session, groups had to discuss the current state of education. Both groups agreed that the education initiative is not currently community-driven and led, but driven and led by the respective local authorities, specifically the PIER group. However, there is a need for respectful consultation and inclusivity. Delegates stressed the importance of communities being addressed in ways that respects their beliefs and cultures. There is a problem with delivering what is thought to be needed versus what is actually needed.

It was noted that the PIER programme is not utilised throughout the country and therefor a mandate should be instituted from national government to ensure that the programme remains relevant as the vehicle to assist in the reduction or elimination of the identified risks. Currently there is a lack of sustainability.

Groups suggested that partnerships between all relevant stakeholders are vital for programmes such as PIER to succeed and that inter-departmental communication must be improved and resources distributed better to enhance education throughout.

Security and resilience
On the second day of the conference (Friday, 6 November), a noticeable amount of delegates have ‘disappeared’ but the remaining group took on the final pillar of ‘security and resilience’ with the same amount of vigour as the day before, determined to come up with a viable strategy.

The session was kicked off by Mosia, presenting a talk on ‘International Standardisation in Security and Resilience’. He looked at the role of standards and stressed the importance clarity in standards.

A breakaway session followed to look at who should all be involved in the making of standards and how these can be used to further security and resilience nationally. Both groups agreed that SAESI could be playing a more prominent role (many suggested a leading role) with regards to making EMS standards and a problem was identified with municipalities not doing what SAESI suggests.

Conference outcomes
The following three broad outcomes were identified at the conclusion of the conference on 6 November:

  • There is a definite need for a National Fire Risk Management Plan;
  • PIER is an essential aspect; and
  • SAESI should have an increased presence in standardisation.

“I believe these outcomes are achievable and that SAESI should establish a 2015 conference workgroup to work through the feedback submitted and develop an action list with responsible people and target dates,” suggested May. “Regular feedback should be given to the delegates on progress made as per the action list with consolidated feedback on all the issues raised prior to the 2017 Conference.”

An overwhelming positive response
The new format of breakaway sessions were well-received and participation was at an all-time high. “The breakaway sessions brought about deeper discussions and analysis of the topics to come out with what the conference resolves upon under specific topics,” said Mosia. “This newly-introduced process added value to the delegates who are the experts in the field on all the topics. They became participants on the paper being presented rather than being recipients. They set their own course!”

“The conference topics was relevant and seemed to have found a lasting impression in the minds of the delegates that attended the various topical speakers and breakaway sessions,” agreed May. “The new approach for the conference was well-received and attended, the delegates actively participated in the various breakaway sessions and it offered each delegate the opportunity to have their voice heard. The atmosphere created was conducive for constructive discussion irrespective of rank with specific resolutions flowing from these sessions.”

And the delegates? What did they think? “I saw a well-organised event with a lot of information to absorb,” commented Mandla Kunene, fire officer of Engen for Health, Safety, Environment and Quality.

“I’m of the opinion that this year’s format was very balanced, entertaining and informative,” agreed Angelo Aplon, Station Commander at Overstrand Fire & Rescue. “The presentations were brilliant, and the presenters experts in their fields. This was my first year, and I would like to see a greater representation of all the role players in the industry.”

For a full gallery of conference and other memorable moments visit Fire Online.