Pupils who obtained matric by using the educational programme provided by Accelerated Christian Education South Africa (Ace) had valid qualifications, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, has declared.

The South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa) was interdicted by Judge Ronel Tolmay from informing the public that these pupils did not have valid qualifications.

Ace provides educational programmes through a number of independent schools; the so-called Schools of Tomorrow.

It turned to court on an urgent basis after some pupils who obtained their matric through the programme experienced problems with the qualifications.

Ace asked the court to interdict Saqa from informing the public that the Schools of Tomorrow Grade 12 College Entrance Certificate has been de-registered and that the qualification was invalid.

It was said the actions by the respondent (Saqa) impacted on those students who had obtained these qualifications and who wanted to study further.

In light of this some students were refused study loans from banks while others had their employers questioning their credentials.

Ace promotes and sells its programmes to prospective high school pupils. It does not do the actual teaching, but the schools affiliated to it do so.

There are no final exams written, but once the pupil had advanced through the Ace curriculum, they receive their qualification, called the Grade 12 Ace Qualification. It is comparable to a matric qualification.

It was also acknowledged that pupils with this qualification could apply to South African universities for higher education.

Ace, in 2015, decided to not proceed with its study programme and reached an agreement with Umalusi that there would be a reasonable “teach-out” period for the qualifications to ensure that pupils still in the system would not be disadvantaged.

It was also agreed that the last date of enrolment into this programme would be July 30 last year and the cut-off date to achieve this qualification June 30, 2019.

This was to give the pupils enough time to obtain the qualification if they had to repeat.

Ace said Umalusi gave the green light for students to obtain this qualification up until the end June 2019.

However, Saqa started informing verification agencies such as banks and employers that while the qualification was still accepted, Ace was not accredited to offer it.

One of the pupils who obtained the qualification in 2010, and later her Bachelor of Psychology, was questioned about her matric qualification when she started to work for the Mpumalanga Education Department.

She even had to face disciplinary action because she obtained her Grade 12 certification through the Ace programme.

The department said this qualification was not recognised by Saqa. Ace said the information provided by Saqa was contradictory to the agreement it had reached with Umalusi.

It was argued that this caused the student a lot of embarrassment.

Another student was refused a student loan from a bank as his qualification he had obtained was also questioned.

The applicant said Saqa was providing incorrect information to the public and to institutions.

This caused unnecessary hardships to the former students who had obtained this qualification, it argued.

It also prejudiced those due to complete the programme by the end of June 2019.

Judge Tolmay said it was clear this qualification was legal and should be accepted up until the end of June 2019.

Pretoria News