In conjunction with the World Health Organization’s Department of Health and Research, the Department of Obstetrics and University of Stellenbosch, South Africa presented since 1997 hands-on semenology workshops for 87 health care workers from 16 Sub-Sahara African countries. The programme consists of a five-day workshop, during which participants underwent a pre-training test after which they received intensive hands-on training on sperm concentration, motility, vitality and sperm morphology. Following the workshop, all the participants were enrolled in a continuous quality control programme for sperm morphology. The morphology reading skills of 53 workshop participants that enrolled for the external quality control programme were analysed and classified over an extended period. The reading skills were monitored using 36 slides (18 sets over 48 months). Three participants (5.7%) had a poor standard of reading, 6 participants (11.3%) had a marginal standard of reading and 45 participants had an acceptable reading standard (83%). An external quality control programme can be highly successful, on condition that it is presented continuously with a 3–4 month interval between tests. Our results underline the importance of hands-on training and moreover the crucial role that follow up external quality control programmes plays in the maintenance of a technicians reading skills. This observation can be validated for all semen parameters.