Frequently Asked Questions

Please make sure that you are familiar with the following terms before you continue.

What is the difference between a unit standard and a non unit standard learning programme?

unit standard learning programme is an applicable unit standard registered on the National Qualifications Framework by the South African Qualifications Authority.
non unit standard learning programme is a learning programme designed to teach the learner the fundamental knowledge in a subject and is a non credit bearing learning programme.

What is the difference between a qualification and a learning programme?

Qualifications and unit standards, governed by the NSB regulations and developed by expert stakeholder groupings, prescribe the outcomes, assessment criteria and other relevant detail for learner achievement. These guide the educator/assessor with regard to what the learner needs to know, do and apply.

A learning programme consists of learning and assessment activities derived from the outcomes that make up the qualification. This is what the provider designs, based on sound educational principles (for example, learnercentredness).

This manual offers a systematic way of planning learning and assessment activities that will assist the learner to achieve the desired knowledge, skills, applications and attitudes.

The learning programme is really the what, the when and the how of implementation. It is about what happens in the classroom: the teaching / learning and assessment activities associated with achieving outcomes.

It is clearly the task of providers to structure exciting, challenging and innovative learning and assessment experiences for learners, while it is the job of the ETQA to consider whether providers have offered learners a fair opportunity to acquire the outcomes by monitoring the learning programme and quality assuring the learning achievement.

What is an NQF Level?

Qualifications and unit standards are registered at particular levels of the NQF. Level descriptors are statements about the kind of learning that can be expected of a qualification or unit standard registered at a particular level of the NQF. These descriptions are broad and generic but they help to show.

Developing Learning Programmes for NQF-registered Qualifications and Unit Standards 7 what a qualification at a particular level will demand of a learner. Outcomes must be comparable with the level descriptors for that particular level.

The level descriptors are statements about the applied competence i.e. the knowledge, skills and applications at a particular level, and the autonomy of the learning process i.e. how much responsibility does the learner have for his/her own learning? Level descriptors can be found on the SAQA website as well as the Council on Higher Education website.

The NSB regulations require that for a qualification to be registered at any level of the NQF, a minimum of 72 credits has to be at the level at which it is registered.
To illustrate, a Certificate at NQF 5 means that there are 72 credits of the certificate at Level 5 and that the outcomes meet the requirements of the level descriptors at Level 5.

What are credits?

Credits are a measure of the notional hours or learning time that it would take the average learner to meet the prescribed outcomes. This includes contact time, structured learning, workplace learning and self-study (10 notional hours = 1 credit).

The number of credits assigned to a unit standard or a qualification can only be a guide to the average learning time. Learners learn in different ways, some learn faster and others more slowly. Experienced educators will adjust their learning programme accordingly to accommodate particular groups of learners. For example, it may mean that you have to prepare, in advance, additional material that the faster learner can be challenged by, or set up a peer group which can assist slower learners to grasp new concepts. There is no ‘exact’ measure of learning time which will apply to every learner!