MDT Awards compared to SAQA National Qualifications
Back in 1994 Stakeholders in the mountaineering industry got together to develop a training and assessment programme to meet the needs of the mountaineering industry as there was nothing in place at that time to ensure what was being taught was correct and relevant. In 2000 the National Qualifications Framework was established and qualifications were developed and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) with whom all qualifications in SA are registered.
The SAQA qualifications are work based qualifications, but due to the generic skills of anyone working in the mountaineering industry, these qualifications can also be used for non professional purposes.
The SAQA Qualifications are unit standard based and are recognised by the SA Government for use for the purpose of registering as a guide with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), but are not widely recognised by the "industry" role players due to the poor standards initially experienced in the roll out of the NQ's.
On the other hand, the MDT Awards are widely recognised by industry roll players, and two of the awards are recognised by the UIAA as meeting the international model standards, BUT, are not recognised by DEDAT for purpose of registration as a guide in terms of the 2nd Tourism Amendment Act of 2000.
So should you wish to be a registered and legal guide in SA, you must hold the SAQA Qualification, the MDT Awards will not be sufficient for this purpose, however if your need is non professional, then the MDT awards programme is the way to go.
In fact the SAQA and MDT qualifications are so similar, (the SAQA Units were written based on the MDT programme), that the MDT Training Programme is still the best option for the training part of your qualification before you apply for assessment, whether you need a SAQA National Qualification or just an MDT Award.
In the meantime, we still recommend that you register for MDT Programmes, but if you need to obtain a National Qualification for professional purposes, we recommend that you choose an MDT Assessor who is also accredited & registered to offer National Qualifications. In this way you will gain both qualifications at the same time, saving money and effort.