Pierre Smit

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Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning is a process whereby people’s prior learning can be formally recognised in terms of registered qualifications and unit standards, regardless of where and how the learning was attained. RPL acknowledges that people never stop learning, whether it takes place formally at an educational institution, or whether it happens informally.

The process of RPL is as follows:

Identifying what a person knows and can do;

Matching the person’s knowledge, skills and experience to specific standards and the associated assessment criteria of a qualification;

Assessing the learning against those standards; and

Crediting the person for skills, knowledge and experience built up through formal, informal and non-formal learning that occurred in the past.

In practice what this means is that a learner or an employee’s non-traditional or non-formal experience and learning can be recognised.

The RPL assessment is mostly summative in nature with formative assessment done only to a learner where further action is taken after the advisory session. The assessment of candidates is done against the same unit standards and exit level outcomes of qualifications using the same assessment criteria as for other full time learners. What is demanded of a full time learner has to be met fully by an RPL learner during assessment.

Assessment of RPL learners can be on a one to one basis or even on group basis just like full time learners. If 50% is demanded as a pass mark for full time learners, the same should apply for RPL learners.

Certificates obtained through RPL should be the same as those obtained through full time learning so as to prevent discrimination of the RPL learners. However, recording of RPL learners and their achievements should be kept by the respective ETQAs and providers involved. This will help track the success or failure of RPL implementation in South Africa.



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