Written by: Hannes Nel
After approximately eight years in which the QCTO made some progress towards the development and registration of new occupational qualifications, stakeholders are beginning to wonder if the new curriculum model will ever replace the old (legacy) one and, more importantly, if it would be an improvement. We currently have the situation where legacy curriculums as well as QCTO model curriculums are registered on the NQF. It is not clear when all legacy qualifications will be removed from the NQF. However, it would be a sorry day if such curriculums are scrapped without being replaced by new and, hopefully, better ones.
The following are some of the most important differences between the QCTO curriculum structure and the legacy qualification curriculum format:
- Legacy qualifications are composed of a number of separate unit standards, each catering for the achievement of practical competencies (outcomes) theoretical knowledge (essential embedded knowledge) and critical cross-field outcomes.
QCTO qualifications split the legacy unit standards into three separate unit standards per unit of learning (module or subject), one providing for knowledge, one for practical skills and one for work experience.
- Each legacy unit standard has its own NQF level and number of credits. They can be offered as separate learning programmes or combined with other related unit standards to form a “bigger” learning programme. Credits for each unit standard can be read into the NLRD. At least some SETA Learner record databases allow this, but it is not clear if the credits are still transferred to the NLRD.
QCTO units of learning and unit standards cannot stand alone and no credits are allocated to them separately. Credits are allocated for the whole qualification. No credits can, therefore, be read into the NLRD for separate units of learning or unit standards, with the result that it would probably not make sense offering them as separate learning programmes either.
- Legacy qualifications are not compared internationally, although this should be done during the design process.
QCTO qualifications are compared internationally to ensure that South African qualifications are on par with international requirements and trends.
- Legacy qualifications and unit standards were initially designed by Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs). This process, however, was watered down considerably to working groups, probably because SGBs often did not function properly for various reasons.
QCTO qualifications are designed under supervision of a registered Development Quality Partner (DQP). This procedure is already questioned, probably because of the inability of some DQPs to perform and manage.
- Legacy qualifications and unit standards specify who can benefit from the qualification or unit standard in general terms, referring to job titles.
QCTO qualifications (not units of learning or unit standards) are specific in terms of the occupational profile of those who should benefit from the qualification, even specifying the OFO codes, occupational purpose, tasks and context. The occupational description that needs to be specified is so elaborate that it could well be a job profile or duty sheet.
- Although legacy qualifications and unit standards as well as QCTO qualifications require workplace experience, the QCTO qualifications are much more specific in this respect.
The writing of occupational curriculums is taking longer than initially anticipated, leading to discontent amongst stakeholders and rendering the process inefficient. The reason for the process being extremely time-consuming is, unfortunately, not because of thorough work but rather because of long periods of inactivity between meetings, different stakeholders joining the process at different times thereby often disrupting the smooth flow of the development process and some unnecessary bureaucratic procedures which adds no value to the process.
There are two rather important deficiencies in the current occupational curriculum format namely that too much duplication takes place and it would be difficult to compare it with HE and TVET curriculums for determining equivalence. Determining equivalence is necessary in order to achieve articulation of the three NQF sub-frameworks and articulation is necessary for opening pathways between different NQF sub-frameworks.
Already, however, some of the new curriculums are not structured in accordance with the QCTO format. Registration number 15952: Higher Certificate: Early Childhood Development, is an example of such a curriculum. One can probably argue that it is a Higher Education qualification and that it, therefore, need not follow the QCTO format. However, the Quality Assuring Body is given as the QCTO.
I intentionally did not discuss differences between the old ETQAs and the current DQPs because there are no substantive differences. The QCTO largely delegated the quality assurance function to what used to be ETQAs and now they are called DQPs.