Benchmarking towards recognised development of musicians in the South African Police Service Bands (Loffie Naude)

The initial South African Police (SAPS) Band was established in 1903 in Pretoria. During the early years of its existence there were no official assessment (evaluation) tools to establish the standards of music-making in the South African Police Service. At the time musicians were recruited from the Police Stations, some on the basis of their formal qualifications, and others because of their demonstrated musical skills, musical aptitude and performance abilities.

During the latter part of the eighties and early nineties a syllabus was used to train SAPS Band members. This syllabus was further developed in 2004 but was not submitted for accreditation within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) context. SAPS as an employer could neither recognise the internal training of its Band members nor consider them for promotions in the SAPS.  SAPS Band members in the Inter-Departmental Music Advisory Committee (IDMAC) system were competing for positions against candidates with academic and professional qualifications obtained at universities and officially recognized on the NQF.

An innovative intervention was required to address the dead-ends that many SAPS Band members were experiencing. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) proposed a solution: a benchmarking exercise which would have two purposes. First, benchmarking would prepare SAPS Band members for a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process to make possible recognition of their knowledge and skills. Second, the benchmarking would also be used to develop a new qualification in cooperation with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) to ensure full accreditation in the context of the NQF.

The most important lesson learned through the benchmarking workshop is that agency is an important factor in changing dead-end situations into contexts offering hope and prospects. Agency in this instance refers to the ability to:

  • see opportunities for change and to act on these opportunities;
  • replace uncertainty about the future with certainty, options and hope; and
  • create pathways for the way forward for sustainable learning and development.

Dr Loffie Naude is a senior member in SAQA’s Research Directorate. He specialises in enabling RPL in new contexts, and research and development relating to RPL, CAT Lifelong Learning, and education and training systems. In his research and work he uses a diverse range of theoretical approaches.

For further information contact Dr Loffie at

The IDMAC was established to develop a music curriculum that could be quality assured within the context of the NQF