Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit

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Report No. 26
South Asia: Human Development Unit

National Qualifications Framework


National Qualifications Framework and Technical Vocational Education and Training in Pakistan

March 2009

Discussion Paper Series

Discussion Papers are published to communicate the results of the World Bank’s work to the development community with the least possible delay. The typescript manuscript of this paper there fore has not been prepared in accordance with the procedures appropriate to formally edited texts. Some sources cited in the paper may be informal documents that are not readily available.

The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent.

The World Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this work. The boundaries, colors, denominations, and other information shown on any map in this work do not imply any judgment on the part of The World Bank concerning the legal status of any territory or the endorsement or acceptance of such boundaries.






Summary of the Pakistani TVET Sector 2

A National Qualifications Framework in Pakistan 5

Objective and Benefits of a Pakistani NQF 5

Anchoring a Pakistani NQF in a Reform Program 7

Scope of NQF 10

Modes of Implementation 15

A Competence Based Approach 16

Involvement of Social Partners 22

Quality Assurance 27

Organizational Structure 29

An Incremental Approach 29

Organizational models 30

Action Plan 32

An Overall Implementation Body 33


Bibliography 37

Annex 1: The Education System in Pakistan 39

Annex 2: The TVET System in Pakistan 40

Annex 3: The Education System in Denmark 41

Annex 4: Flows in the Danish Education System from Basic School to Youth Education 42

Annex 5: Structures of Danish VET Programs 43

Annex 6: Vocational Education and Training in Denmark - Provision and Participation 45

Annex 7: The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework 49


This paper was prepared by Peter Khallash Bengtsen while he was seconded to the World Bank from his present position as Head of Section, Office for Lifelong Learning, Ministry of Education, Denmark. The author has been extensively involved in the establishment of the Danish National Qualifications Framework of Lifelong Learning and its integration with the European Qualifications Framework.

Valuable comments on earlier drafts that improved the paper, were received from the peer reviewer to this report: Mr. Jan Reitz Joergensen, Head Consultant, Office of Lifelong Learning, Ministry of Education, Denmark, and colleagues here in the World Bank. The team wishes to acknowledge the role of Mr. Andreas Blom, Senior Education Economist, who coordinated Mr. Bengtsen’s secondment to the World Bank and assisted in the preparation of this report. Lastly, Mr. Mohammad Khalid Khan and Ms. Julie-Anne Graitge deserve praise for their timely and diligent formatting of this paper.

This paper is part of the World Bank’s response to requests from Government of Pakistan to assist in providing more opportunities for skills development to its talented youth population.


AMU Adult Vocational Training

EQF European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning

FETAC Further/Higher Education

HEC Higher Education Commission

HETAC Training Awarding Council,

JDC Danish Joint Competence Description

KVU Short-term Higher Education

NAVTEC National Vocational and Technical Education Commission

NQFHE National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

NTBoard National Training Board

NQAI National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

NQF National Qualifications Framework

PNQA Pakistani National Qualifications Authority

SAQA South Africa Qualifications Authority

SCQF Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

SMEs Small and Medium Enterprises

TEVTA Technical Education and Vocational Training Authorities

TVET Technical Vocational Education and Training


A National Qualifications Framework (NQF) has benefits, which can improve TVET in Pakistan significantly, if certain conditions are met. This paper proposes and analyzes a set of essential aspects of a NQF that could guide Pakistan as it seeks to develop a NQF. The main challenges are to develop a NQF realistic in scope, commit stakeholders and relate the NQF to other education reforms. The policy recommen­dations in this working paper focus on a NQF based on sector-specific qualifications frameworks, an incentivized mode of implementation and an incremental approach. It is suggested that further knowledge is needed regarding integration of NQF development with other education reforms.


  1. A National Qualifications Framework (NQF) can be described as an instrument for classification of qualifications. The qualifications are incorporated on different levels in the NQF according to a set of criteria for the learning achieved.

  1. Governmental bodies in Pakistan have expressed an interest in establishing a NQF. Experiences with NQF development and implementa­tion in other countries are to be drawn upon. Develop­ment of such qualifications frame­works has from the establishment of the first framework in the vocational education sector of England in the 1980es expanded to countries around the globe, high-income as well as middle- and low-income countries. In several of these countries the NQF has been put forward as a promoter of wide reforms of the education system, because of the policy initiatives that are traditionally linked to the qualifications frameworks.

  1. Development and implementation of a NQF in Pakistan poses a series of essential issues to be considered. This paper considers the following elements as ‘essentials’ for a NQF:

  1. Objectives and benefits of the NQF (outlining the overall purpose of the NQF)

  2. Anchoring NQF in a reform program (linking with overlapping education policy reforms)

  3. Scope of the NQF (coverage of the NQF across the education sectors)

  4. Mode of implementation (voluntary/incentivized/regulatory implementation)

  5. Competence-based NQF (basing the qualifications on learning outcome)

  6. Involvement of social partners (linkages with employers and employees)

  7. Framework for quality assurance the NQF

  8. Organizational structure of the NQF

  1. This working paper will focus on the benefits and challenges facing the technical vocational education and training (TVET) sector of Pakistan when establishing a NQF. Lessons to be learned from Danish and other international experiences are drawn upon to assess the feasibility of developing and implementing a NQF in a Pakistani context. The relative large amount of Danish examples is due to the Danish origin of the author and the fact that Denmark right now is developing a NQF for Lifelong Learning.

  1. The main messages of the working paper are:

  1. Establishing a NQF in Pakistan has potential to promote transparency and progression and to provide a framework for more robust quality assurance mechanisms. Also, a NQF has potential to improve linkages between labor market needs of competences and provision of such competences from the education sector.

  1. Several challenges are significant to be aware of, when setting up a NQF: Development and implementation should be acknow­ledged as a medium- to long-term initiative. It takes time to develop and implement a NQF, when no previous reforms have eased the way, and when success depends upon involvement of a number of stakeholders with different interests. Committing all relevant stakeholders in principle and practice is crucial, both in the development and implementation phase. The scope of the NQF must be clarified and agreed upon by all stakeholders, which include questions like which NQF model to use and what qualifications to include.

    1. The paper proposes an incremental approach to developing and implementing a NQF. The process should not be rushed. Furthermore, a NQF comprised of partial frameworks for each education sub-sector is proposed as a feasible organi­zational model. This will allow different paces and phases for each partial NQF. The partial frameworks could be combined by a joint translational framework to promote coherence and progression between education sectors. Finally, the development of the NQF must be done in combination with other education initiatives to be effective. Developing a NQF will not by itself achieve the benefits sought by the Pakistani Government, unless policies are developed regarding improving linkages with industry, developing skills standards, developing quality assurance mechanisms, among others.

    1. The content of the paper is divided into three sections: First section summarizes relevant characteristics of the Pakistani TVET sector. Section 2 discusses each of the ‘essentials’, describes trade-offs and options for Pakistan when developing a NQF. Section 3 summarizes the policy recommendations arrived at in the previous section.
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Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconDp united Nations Development Programme Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development arab human development report 2003

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Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconTitle of report: Planning applications for consideration report of: Derek Quinn, Group Director Development and Enterprise Purpose of the Report

Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconTitle of report: Planning applications for consideration report of: Derek Quinn, Group Director Development and Enterprise Purpose of the Report

Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconThe Ames Library of South Asia and the Thomson Gale Collection

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Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconPage 346 Unit 6 Southwest and Central Asia Page 347

Report No. 26 South Asia: Human Development Unit iconRural Development and Natural Resources Sector Unit

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