North West Economic Development hosts Consumer Dialogues

Be a wise consumer and know your rights

The North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation, and Tourism says Consumer Dialogues remains a foundation stone of the department’s mandate. As the entire world celebrates World Consumer Rights Day, the department through Consumer Affairs held a dialogue at Madiba Banquet Hall in Potchefstroom recently. This is as part of celebrating Consumer Month under the theme “Know your rights to fair and honest dealing”.

The dialogue was aimed to create awareness of the rights and responsibilities of consumers when applying for admissions at private higher education institutions. The focus was more on empowering students, academic sponsors, and the public in general on the registrations requirements for private higher education institutions as per the Higher Education Act, and accreditations of such Institutions in line with the National Qualification Framework for quality assurance for courses offered.

Meanwhile, a Grade 12 learner from Potchefstroom Boys High, President of the school and the Head Boy, Ntsikelelo Folose described the dialogue as a platform that have opened their eyes by learning the right steps to take when applying in an accredited institution, and the tips of identifying red flags in terms of those that are not accredited.

“We are creating this platform to bring an understanding of the protection afforded to the students, academic sponsors, and redress for loss suffered as a result of enrolling with unregistered institutions and implications thereof or for acquiring certificates from unaccredited institutions. However, parents and the public are advised to ensure that students are registered in accredited institutions. It is important to know your rights as a consumer and if they are infringed you can contact the Department. The Department will investigate the matter and in case not amicable solution not reached, the matter is referred to Provincial Consumer Court which will ensure that learners get a redress and are refunded all their fees paid especially on the cases lodged,” the Director Consumer Protection, Mr. Seile Letsogo.

It is very important that after the learner has verified the registration status of the school/college they should check whether the qualification offered is credited by UMALUSI or another quality council or body such as Sector Education Training & Authority (SETA), South African Quality Authority (SAQA). This will assist by showing that the studies offered are accredited in terms of the relevant legislations as outlined in South Africa. Learners are urged to contact UMALUSI helpline @ 0860 35 66 35, SMS @ 072 204 5056, office line @ 012 349 1510, email sends e-mail) or SETA is external) to verify accreditation.

According to Letsogo, the department has observed with a concern that there are unregistered private institutions that are mushrooming throughout the province and continue to provide education and training to communities within the province. The Department will continue to have engagements with relevant institutions to address this matter to protect consumers as outlined in the Consumer Protection Act of 2008.

The dialogue was attended by 150 learners and students around J B Marks and Matlosana Local Municipalities. Amongst the stakeholders that formed part of the panel with the learners and academic sponsors were South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), Department of Higher Education and Training, UMALUSI, and National Credit Regulator (NCR), and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

Source: Government of South Africa