Recognition of Prior Learning is a mechanism which provides for acknowledgement of a person’s knowledge and skills which might not have been acquired through formal training.

SAQA’s definition of RPL states “Recognition of Prior Learning means the comparison of the previous learning and experience of a learner howsoever obtained against the learning outcomes required for a specified qualification, and the acceptance for purposes of qualification of that which meets the requirements.”

This means that regardless of where, when or how a person achieved the learning, if such learning meets the requirements of a unit standard or a qualification, it could be recognised for credits. RPL is therefore a form of assessment for persons who have not attended training but still wish to be acknowledged for their current knowledge and skills in a particular area.

The SAQA RPL policy states: “there is no fundamental difference in the assessment of previously acquired skills and knowledge and the assessment of skills and knowledge acquired through a current learning programme. The candidate seeking credits for previously acquired skills and knowledge must still comply with all the requirements as stated in unit standards and qualifications. The difference lies in the route to the assessment.

RPL is an assessment process, and as such, the persons applying for RPL must understand that they will have to undergo some form of assessment to ensure that the required knowledge and skills are still current. Edutel’s RPL assessment mainly consists of questioning and workplace observation as methods of gathering the evidence to prove the candidate’s competence. This means that the candidate will most probably be observed while he/she is working and his/her Line Manager will complete a form indicating what the person can do. The person will also have to complete either a knowledge questionnaire, case study questions or an assignment (or a combination of these) in order for the Assessor to check that the knowledge or theory needed to use the skills properly, is up to date.

With Edutel there is a specific procedure which needs to be followed in order for the RPL assessment process to take place. It looks like this:

1. A prospective candidate, who knows that he/she most probably qualifies for RPL applies to Edutel by completing the relevant application form .
2. Once the application has been reviewed and approved, the potential candidate meets with an RPL Advisor, who explains the skills and knowledge requirements and checks whether the person does, in fact, have these at present. This is called the Screening Process.
3. If the person has some major gaps in knowledge and skills, he/she is advised to attend training to fill these gaps and come back later for RPL.
4. If the person meets requirements, then the process is put in motion.
5. The successful candidate will be given thorough preparation for the assessment which lies ahead and all concerns which the person might have are ironed out.
6. Then the evidence collection phase starts. At this point the Evidence Facilitator in the workplace (who might be the Line Manager) is trained on how to assist the candidate to collect the required evidence.
7. The evidence is collected over a period of time (which was agreed upon during assessment preparation) and this is all submitted to Edutel for formal assessment. The assessment is done by a registered Assessor, who makes a judgement as to whether the evidence submitted by the candidate covers all the requirements of the unit standard or qualification.
8. If it does, the candidate is declared Competent and, in due course, can celebrate his/her achievement.
9. If the evidence does not meet requirements, the candidate is given advice and support on what extra evidence is required and how to go about collecting this. Steps 7 to 9 then apply.

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