Tips for QCTO – the Tips for Parents & Learners is misleading

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    sylvia hammond

    The QCTO has issued this document with all good intentions to support parents and learners, avoid them paying for a programme that does not lead to an accredited qualification. All well and good. However:
    * if an unaccredited provider offers a course that is not registered on the NQF, and issues a Certificate of Attendance – that Certificate is NOT “invalid”.
    * Invalidity arises when an unaccredited provider alleges that the programme IS accredited. So the advice should advise the parents to ask specific questions (& if possible record the response).
    “Are you an unaccredited provider? and
    “Is this qualification registered on the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF)?
    (In the event that they have been misled they have a legal cause of action.)

    Secondly, if the provider has an approval from a professional body, such as the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP), they may issue a Certificate of Attendance – that is NOT “invalid”, and the certificate may be accompanied by a document indicating Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points gained. That is also NOT “invalid”.

    This document is well-intended – but misleading. Suggest it should be revised and re-issued.

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    Lynel Farrell

    Hi Sylvia,
    CPD points are not credit bearing, and a certificate of attendance isn’t credit bearing either. The main concern at the moment is that there are bogus providers marketing that they are accredited – whereby they are not, and they cannot provide proof of being accredited to offer credit bearing NQF Qualifications, Skills Programmes, Unit Standards, Occupational Qualifications, Part-Qualifications or Trades for that matter. A Certificate of Attendance, is merely stating that an individual attended a seminar or a course – but this does not mean that the individual achieved or obtained credits towards their qualification at all. Some of these certificates will also display SETA logos or even a QCTO logo – whereby the learner assumes that it is credit bearing and that it counts towards a qualification.

    sylvia hammond

    Hi Lynel,
    Thanks for your response. As I believe you know, and I made explicit in the introduction to the post, I am not opposed to the QCTO. In fact, I am extremely glad that they are now taking hold. I fully support their mission to inform parents to be wary, and to avoid spending their hard-earned money paying for programmes that are not legitimate.

    However, their mission here is to counter misinformation. I suggest that they cannot then themselves, indulge in misinformation. English is used as our main language of business, but it needs to be translated into all our other languages. Therefore, it is crucial that the level of English is specific and accurate.

    This media briefing starts off at the top as an “Advertorial”. What is an advertorial?

    “An advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content. The term ‘advertorial’ is a blend of the words ‘advertisement’ and ‘editorial'”. Merriam-Webster dates the origin of the word to 1946. Wikipedia.

    a newspaper or magazine advertisement giving information about a product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.”
    Definitions from Oxford Languages

    So we have an advert for something – the QCTO – giving the impression of an “objective” report.

    Recognising that the QCTO is trying to convey something that we know is incredibly complex, Step 1 sets out accreditation by the 2 Quality Councils, and notes that the SETA accreditation is still valid. No problem with that – I did just wonder whether Umalusi should maybe also have come in there.

    Step 2 makes a statement: “Employees are reluctant to hire …” We know they mean Employers. But what is the evidence for that statement? Do they have the research to back up that statement? I may be wrong. It is not my experience. I am not even sure that employers always want qualifications at all, unless they are an inherent requirement of the job.

    Next sentence: “All NEW skills programmes (my emphasis)…” What does that mean for OLD skills programmes? There are many. Going on further to inform that: If one were to enrol in a skills programme that is not “registered/recorded” will “…result in your certificate being invalid”.

    Now that is patently misleading.
    First, there are old skills programmes – any certificate clearly remains valid.

    Secondly, the words “skills programmes” are not patented by the QCTO. Anybody, who acquires a skill about anything, may wish to impart that skill in a programme. They can then issue a Certificate of attendance. The certificate is valid. It may not accrue credits – but it is still a valid certificate.

    Thirdly, there are international programmes, qualitications, and certificates that are not registered on the NQF. It may well be the employers definitely do want to employ people holding those qualifications. Those certificates are valid. They are not invalid as a result of not being on the NQF.

    I gave the example of a programme by an unaccredited provider and the addition of CPD points, because I had something specific in mind. All of that activity is outside of the QCTO (or CHE) ambit.

    The point I am making is this.
    I fully support the QCTO in delivering a public service. However, if they are addressing misleading adverts by providers, they should not respond by themselves indulging in a misleading Advertorial.

    We may well know the complexity of what is involved, and we are accustomed to using all the acronyms and the jargon. But parents of young people, whom I believe are the target market of this advertorial – they are not.

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