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SU to quality-assure new Africa-centred international school-leaving qualification
Author: SU International
Published: 06/10/2021

​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) has entered into an exciting working agreement with the Independent Examinations Board's international arm (IEB-International) to quality-assure an Africa-centred school-leaving qualification that will be introduced internationally.

IEB-International is a subdivision of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), a South African non-profit. The IEB is an internationally respected board that conducts assessments for school-leavers in the independent school sector, including the South African National Senior Certificate (NSC), which has, until 2021, been offered in other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as well.

However, as recent changes in national regulations prevent the IEB-NSC from being offered outside South Africa, neighbouring countries that had been offering the NSC needed an alternative, comparable qualification and curriculum. To fill this gap, IEB-International has developed the IEB International Secondary Certificate (IEB-ISC). The qualification is Africa-centred, of a high quality, and internationally comparable.

Available from 2022, the IEB-ISC has been evaluated by Universities South Africa (USAf). This means that international candidates who obtain the qualification with merit or at an advanced level, and are offered a place at a South African higher education institution, will have met the minimum requirements for admission to degree programmes. In addition, the IEB has engaged UK Ecctis (previously known as UK NARIC) – who represents the United Kingdom in all international qualification matters – to benchmark the qualification and specific subject curricula internationally.

Yet, in terms of its mandate, South Africa's national authority for basic education quality assurance may not quality-assure an international school-leaving qualification outside South African borders. Hence SU was approached. In terms of the agreement, SU's Unit for International Credentialing (SU-UIC), housed in SU International's Africa Centre for Scholarship (ACS), will play a key part in quality-assuring the IEB-ISC. This includes establishing and maintaining consistent, appropriate academic standards in individual subject areas, verifying that the IEB has applied appropriate quality assurance processes to conduct credible annual examinations, and ensuring that the certification is authentic and free from manipulation.

An ISC quality assurance governance committee has met twice already. The committee will oversee the quality assurance of key IEB-ISC processes, the ISC-related work of the SU-UIC, as well as the functioning of the two working committees charged with curriculum and assessment, and standardisation respectively. The governance committee is chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs, Prof Hester Klopper, and comprises nationally renowned educationalists and leaders from basic and higher education, as well as former curriculum and assessment policymakers.

Quality-assuring the ISC offers SU a unique opportunity to be part of pioneering work with regard to international school-leaving qualification alternatives on the continent. The University is proud to be able to contribute to an affordable, African-centred approach to curricula and assessment.