SAQA serves notice to retrench staff

31 October 2020

On 29 September 2020, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Board celebrated SAQA’s second consecutive clean audit, and 23 years of consecutive unqualified audits. Despite its celebration of these achievements, the Board had to take the difficult decision to retrench close to a third of SAQA’s staff complement to ensure the continued existence of SAQA.

 

SAQA only receives 44% of its 2020/21 annual budget from voted government funds and needs to raise the remaining 56% to cover its operating and other expenses. This income is generated through the various income-generating services that it offers to the South African public. Since SAQA’s establishment, it has supplemented its budgeted income through fee-generating services. As with many other entities in the country, SAQA has been adversely affected during the Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown in generating adequate revenue from its income-generating services.

 

The Board had no option but to take this hard decision to retrench staff for the first time in SAQA’s 23 year history, because it is required as a Section 3A Statutory public entity to submit a balanced budget for the 2020/21 financial year to the Minister Higher Education, Science and Technology for his approval and to ensure that SAQA will be able to operate in the context of drastic budget cuts to government funds over the next three financial years.

 

The Board and management implemented extensive cost-cutting measures and pursued a number of alternative options to meet its budget shortfall, but these have not yielded sufficient funds to avoid retrenchments. To ensure the continued existence of SAQA and the further implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in the long-term, the Board gave management the mandate to start consultations with staff and the Union in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

 

“This is a very disappointing situation for a model statutory body such as SAQA where the Auditor-General has never found evidence of wasteful and fruitless expenditure since SAQA’s establishment. The retrenchments will not only affect staff but also have a significant effect on access, equity and quality across the education and training landscape”, said the Board Chairperson, Dr Vuyelwa Toni Penxa.

 

The Board highlighted that in addition to the need for retrenchments in the short term, SAQA would also have to further cut back its mandated activities to deal with the announced budget cuts for 2021, 2022 and 2023. The SAQA Board is committed to a fair and transparent process that will ensure that all stakeholders are consulted and to minimise the scale of the staff retrenchments it has been forced to action.

 

Issued by: SAQA

Enquiries: Dr Julie Reddy, Acting Chief Executive Officer

Contact details: 012 431 5003

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