Process for the Recognition of Prior Learning
Across the world, countries increasingly recognize the value of informal and non-formal learning and many are establishing systems to acknowledge competencies gained through these modalities.
Mauritius is one of the leading countries in the African region to successfully initiate RPL as one of the key mechanisms towards certification of skills and competencies against National Qualifications and in so doing, is facilitating people to make the transition from the informal to the formal economy. The strategic move towards a high income earning country as enunciated clearly in the Government Vision 2030 cannot be achieved unless there is a strong and competent human resource base.
However, wherever and whenever achieved and nurtured, the recognition of such skills and competencies is a strategic endeavour and would lead to many benefits for the individual, the employer, the industry and the economy.
In line with the SDG 4 and the SADC Guidelines for RPL, the development of a new RPL guidelines 2016 provides an enabling framework for recognition of skills and competencies up to level 6 of the National Qualifications Framework thus broadening the scope of the system and bringing more inclusivity in the education and training landscape.
With the active involvement of the private sector in the implementation of RPL, there is now consensus on its effectiveness and reliability in gauging the level of competency against unit standards.
The trust in RPL is now acquired given that the system has been tested and benchmarked against the SADC Guidelines for the RPL.
Time has come for massification of RPL and to catalyze the process, this paper provides for a first of its kind RPL scheme to unable any employee to have the opportunity to earn a qualification by assessing prior learning through the RPL method.
With an aggressive RPL campaign, the scheme is expected to reach out to employees as well as individuals operating in various trades of the economy at different level of operations aiming for qualifications up to diploma level [level 6]
What is RPL?
Recognition of Prior Learning is a process used to identify, assess and certify a person’s knowledge, skills and competencies, regardless of how, when and where the learning occurred, against prescribed standards for a part or full qualification. (ILO, 2015)
The implementation of RPL rests with the MQA as per the provisions of the Mauritius Qualifications Act 2001 which is “to recognise and validate competencies for purposes of certification obtained outside the formal education and training systems”.
In the local context, however, for certification, RPL considers both recognition of accredited learning and recognition of prior experiential learning.
RPL provides an alternative route for earning a valued qualification.
The potential benefits of RPL are not limited to the applicants.
Employers, for instance, may benefit from RPL for cost-efficiency reasons. It allows employers to advance workers in which they have invested over the years and who possess the relevant skills and experience for a job.
Governments, on the other hand, can use RPL to improve the educational profile of their workforce and help applicants expand their employment prospects. If RPL is integrated into the overall education and training systems, it will positively impact the labour market, as well as countries’ economies, and society.
RPL process in Mauritius - The National RPL Framework
A National RPL Framework has been established to provide the architecture and establish an enabling environment that will facilitate the development and implementation of RPL.
This RPL Framework would, amongst others, establish a single and all-encompassing point of reference for RPL.
Central to the present Mauritian RPL model, starting from its conception to its implementation, resides the different phases namely the pre-application, pre-screening, facilitation and assessment stages.
RPL is proposed against unit standard based qualification. Different sets of RPL strategies is proposed for levels 2-3, levels 4-5 and for levels 6 i.e. the strategies for implementing RPL differ according NQF level at which it is being sought.
These strategies are linked to the target group for which the system is aimed for thus further increasing the reliability and validity of the system and thereby enhancing trust.
Notwithstanding the above, RPL, at this stage is limited to NQF level 6.
The table below briefly describes the different stages.
Candidate is provided information about the process of RPL
Candidate submits its application and identify the qualification against which RPL will be claimed
A facilitator guides the RPL candidate in the preparation of the portfolio
The candidate is assessed against the unit standards of the selected qualifications
RPL implementation modality
Intake of RPL candidates is limited to thrice yearly namely: Jan/Feb, April /May and August /September through an Expression of Interest exercise. Candidates will be given a three-month period to complete the Portfolio and subsequently once the portfolio is finalised. Assessment may be organised twice on a yearly basis [depending on quantity of portfolio submission]. The three months may, be extended on a case to case basis, upon agreement with all parties involved in the RPL process, be extended.
During the three months period for the preparation of the portfolio candidates will be monitored monthly. Only upon a favourable monitoring report submitted by the facilitator to the MQA, the candidate may be enrolled for assessment.
A range of assessment methods is used by the awarding body/ies amongst which the portfolio assessment is key. A plethora of other methods such as challenge test, interview, skill demonstration may also be used.
The RPL method makes provision for remedial actions in cases where there are skills and competency gap to ensure candidate completes the RPL process and earns the qualification.
The process flowchart below describes the different steps involved in the RPL process.
Criteria for eligibility for RPL
Minimum years of experience in the field
No formal entry requirement or level 1
Level 4 or 5