The first question most people ask when they want to do a nature guide course is which qualification should I do. At African Guide Academy we offer both the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) qualification as well as the Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) qualification. So which one to do?
The FGASA NQF2 Nature Guide Qualification has evolved over almost 20 years and FGASA itself has been around for more than 30 years. It was for this reason that the Standard Setting Task Force (SSTF) that designed the BQA qualification used this as a framework. As such there is approximately an 80% overlap in syllabus between these two platforms.
While FGASA stands for Field Guides Association of Southern Africa, the FGASA qualification is only recognised in South Africa. However, the name is recognised Africa wide. Although it does not give you a license to guide outside of South Africa, almost anyone in the safari industry recognise it as a valuable qualification. So, in short, FGASA is the South African qualification and BQA is the Botswana Qualification. Therefore if you are going to guide in one of the 2 countries it is a "no brainer" which qualification to do. However, if you are studying for enrichment purposes the question still stands.
The BQA Level 2 Nature Guide Qualification is the entry level qualification for guides wanting to start a career. Although designed around the FGASA NQF2 it has many areas that are specific for Botswana guides. The biggest difference between the two qualifications is that BQA is based on is outcomes based and is Standards Based Assessment (SBA). The qualification is broken down into Unit Standards (US) and every one of these is broken down into Performance Criteria (PC). This PC tells you exactly what you must know about that specific subject. For example "Be able to list the heights of the 3 major cloud groups". This gives the student a very clear idea of what is to be learned and assessed.
Another huge difference between the 2 guiding qualifications is that BQA, being SBA, allows the student to achieve the qualifications in sections. With FGASA you will write a 150 mark exam and if you do not achieve 75% you will need to rewrite your exam. With BQA you can decide to write only a few modules at a time and build up the required unit standards over time. However, because it requires every PC to be examined, it is a longer exam.
The great thing with African Guide Academy is you don't have to choose one of the other. You can do your FGASA and BQA examination in one. Our Nature Guide Manual is the basis for the FGASA and the BQA content. At the end of your course you can write your 150 mark FGASA NQF2 Nature Guide exam followed by a BQA supplementary exam focussing on the PC's not covered in the FGASA test.
In order to write the FGASA exam you must be registered with FGASA before joining the course and have your fees paid up to date. My advice to you is if you are thinking about doing it, do it! Register, pay your fees and get the most out of your Nature Guide Course by doing both the FGASA and BQA assessments.