Recognition of Prior Learning Overview
The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process through which formal, non-formal and informal learning are measured, mediated for recognition across different contexts and certified against the requirements for credit, access, inclusion or advancement in the formal education and training system or workplace.
The aim is to make it possible to obtain formal recognition for knowledge gained throughout life, such as in workplaces and own reading or experiences. The RPL process also entails providing support to a candidate to ensure that knowledge is discovered and displayed in terms of a relevant qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
Types of RPL
There are essentially two types of RPL:
- The recognition of prior accredited learning - learning undertaken in a classroom or formalised study environment
- The recognition of prior experiential learning - or learning achieved through workplace and/or life experience
The first type is relatively simple to implement, provided there is a common means of assigning value to both the learners previous qualification and the target qualification.The South African qualifications framework provides a standardised currency, via the mechanisms of level and credit, for determining the value of learning. Recognition of prior experiential learning is far more difficult to implement as, according to many it involves designing instruments that will capture, measure and evaluate learning acquired experientially, and often informally, in a range of differing contexts.
The recognition of both the above types of learning, accredited and experiential usually involves the following process:
- The candidate is advised to reflect on his/her prior learning and experience in the light of identified learning outcomes
- The learner identifies his/her readiness and indicates this to the RPL advisor
- The RPL advisor prepares the candidate for an assessment by explaining and demonstrating how to compile a portfolio of evidence
- Once the learner is ready, the advisor informs the assessor
- The assessor meets with the learner and evaluates his readiness. If not ready he/she is advised on areas to develop. Once learner is ready, the process continues
- The assessor meets with the learner and identifies the assessment plan and the methods of assessment
- This is a supportive process, and learner must fully understand the process before it begins
- When ready, the learner will submit the portfolio of evidence to the assessor, which contains all the "proof' to show competency on the specific outcomes of the unit standard and/or qualification
- If the portfolio is adequate the learner is certified competent, or the learner will be advised on how to reach competency.
RPL is therefore a process that recognises what learners already know and can do regardless of whether this learning was achieved formally or informally.
So the understanding of what RPL is does not cause a major problem. For some candidates and or training practitioners where the problem exists is in the understanding and interpretation of the HOW and the WHAT - how is RPL assessed and what is to be assessed?
RPL Assessment Process
The assessment process is subject to a variety of principles as outlined:
- The application of the principles of the NQF
- The application of the principles of assessment in terms of credibility
- The submission of acceptable and sufficient evidence
- The assessment being based on the requirements of the specific unit standard, part qualification and/or qualification in terms of specific outcomes and assessment criteria
- Identifying and sourcing relevant evidence
- The use of various assessment methods and instruments
- The application of a fair assessment process
- The application of moderation and evaluation requirements
Normally on the submission of a Portfolio of Evidence the candidate will be assessed against the unit standard, part qualification or full qualification. RPL credits should only be awarded where the learner can demonstrate his/her ability to apply foundational (theory) and practical competence in the various outcomes and related assessment criteria. Credits will be awarded if the candidate demonstrates competence related to the specific outcomes and not exclusively for work experience.
Prior to conducting RPL assessments, an evaluation and approval of the RPL resources must be conducted by the SETA/ETQA. In the verification of the provider’s RPL practice, particular emphasis will be placed on the following:
- Resource competence and preparation
- Workplace requirements, evidence and instruments
- Evidence Gathering
RPL at Training Force
Training Force currently has developed RPL tools for three qualifications .This means we are able to accommodate RPL applications for the qualifications mentioned below:
- National Certificate: Professional Driving
- Further Education and Training Certificate: Business Administration Services
- National Certificate: Generic Management