I currently have the lyrics “We don’t need no education. We Don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teacher, leave them kids alone,” rattling around my poor old noggin. This is from Part 2 of the three-part composition Another Brick in the Wall from the album The Wall by Pink Floyd (click here if you want it to start rattling around in your brainpan also).

The reason for this rattling is that I recently received an email from one of my chums who we will call Ephraim (because that’s his name). Ephraim, yours truly, and another of my friends, David Ashton, have been bouncing occasional emails back and forth for a couple of years now.

Cameroon is a Central African country on the Gulf of Guinea (Click image to see a larger version)

David, who is British by birth, currently hangs his hat in Australia, but he was raised in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, which was once known as the “Jewel of Africa” for its great prosperity. Meanwhile, Ephraim is based in Cameroon, which is a Central African country on the Gulf of Guinea.

To be honest, I didn’t know as much about Cameroon as perhaps I should, so I just had a quick Google while no one was looking. Unlike Zimbabwe, which boasts 16 official languages, Cameroon has only two — French and English — along with five additional recognized regional languages. To make up for this shortfall, Cameroon’s nearly 25 million people speak 250 native languages. That’s ten languages for every million people, which has to be something of a record.

From the Wikipedia, we learn that Cameroon’s natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas; also, that the country is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” for its geological, linguistic, and cultural diversity, but we digress…

Ephraim is 33 years old. He has a BTEC Level 3 qualification — coupled with 10 years’ experience — in Electrical Engineering. The reason for Ephraim’s recent email is that he’s looking for an accredited online Level 6 course in Electrical Engineering or any related vocational qualification that’s affordable (BTEC Levels 6 to 7 are equivalent to university degrees).

Ephraim’s screenshot of the School of Practical Accounting (Click image to see a larger version)

As part of his initial communication on this topic, Ephraim included a screenshot of something he’d found online pertaining to an organization called the School of Practical Accounting in England, along with the question, “Can you help me check if this school is legit because I’m thinking of enrolling in a program there?”

I replied that I’d never heard of this school, but that it’s been 42 years since I graduated from university myself and that I’ve been living in the USA for the past 32 years, so I’m a bit out of touch with what’s going on in UK education.

I performed a Google search and tracked down the School of Practical Accounting website. I did think to myself that if I were looking for a qualification in Electrical Engineering, then an accounting school would probably not be my first port of call. Having said this, scrolling down the home page does show a Graduate Diploma in Electrical, Electronic, and Instrumentation Engineering under the banner of the London International College.

With respect to accreditation, I found something that said: “The School of Practical Accounting is a registered institution with the ACTT (Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago).” This is probably where you might want to imagine me saying “Hmmm” to myself and raising a quizzical eyebrow.

According to the font of all knowledge — a.k.a. the Wikipedia — Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela that is well-known for its African and Indian cultures, as is reflected in its large and famous Carnival. It’s also well-known as being the birthplace of steelpan, the limbo, and music styles such as calypso, soca, rapso, parang, chutney, and chutney soca.

On the one hand, I savor the sound of the steelpan (a.k.a. steel drum, although it’s not actually a drum, but rather an idiophone) and I love the limbo, although it’s rare that you will discover me doing both at the same time. On the other hand, it has to be acknowledged that Trinidad and Tobago has not previously impinged on my radar on either the educational or the technological fronts.

In the case of the London International College, the closest I could find was the London International College of Continuous Development, which — on its accreditation page — happily claims to be “duly accredited by internationally recognized accreditation bodies” and “well-known accreditation agencies” without actually sullying itself by mentioning any names or giving any examples. Curiously, the only address for this establishment that I could find on their website was 2711 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE 19808, USA. A quick Google on this address informs us that “This office space is available for lease” and that the most popular places at this address are Dapper Maids (with an average of only one star out of 75 reviews), LoraFlora (also with only one star), and Terribite (with four stars out of 15 reviews, which means that, whatever it is that they do, they seem to be doing a good job at it).

Sad to say, the bottom line from all of this is that things seem somewhat dubious to me. Of course, it may be the School of Practical Accounting turns out the best practical accountants you could hope to meet at an accountant’s party while their friends at the London International College are extruding exemplary engineers such as the world has not previously seen, but I for one would think twice before pressing the “Please debit my account” buttons on their websites.

If you know — or manage to root out — any more information about either of these institutions, I’d love to hear it. More importantly, can you offer Ephraim any advice with respect to his mission, which is to find an affordable accredited online BTEC Level 6 course in Electrical Engineering or any related vocational qualification?