Recognition of Prior Learning: Are We Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice in the Workplace?
Mary-Jane Makeketa, Mncedisi C. Maphalala
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
The study examines the implementation of recognition of prior learning (RPL) in the workplace, its effectiveness and impact on improving the lives of the previously disadvantaged groups and its contribution towards enhancing a culture of lifelong learning in South Africa. The Northern Region of the Eskom Distribution was used as a case for the purposes of this study. The study adopted a mixed method research approach in which a questionnaire was administered to a randomly selected sample of 242
... employees. In addition, interviews were conducted with three purposively selected (information rich) participants. The findings reveal that Eskom has policies and guidelines on RPL and a clearly stipulated purpose which is in line with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), however, the current RPL policies and procedures have not been piloted within the Northern Region, the information has not yet reached everyone in the business, and employees' level of awareness is still low. Findings also reveal that RPL does exist in Distribution and efforts to implement it are traceable. A number of milestones and achievements are noted in the business as a whole as well as in the region, although a lot still needs to be done to ensure full and effective implementation. The last finding shows that there are a number of gaps and challenges impeding the success of RPL. These range from capacity building to quality assurance. On the basis of the findings, a number of recommendations to strengthen the RPL practice in the workplace are proposed and suggested. Research question 3: What are the gaps in the implementation of RPL in the workplace? A number of gaps and challenges impeding the success of RPL were highlighted by various authors (Deller, 2004; ) in the literature review. These ranged from capacity building and funding to quality assurance. In this study however, gaps and challenges revolved around policies and procedures, proper control systems and information. Furthermore, findings from interviews indicated that there were challenges with regards to training of staff, registered unit standards and qualifications, standardised assessment tools, and lack of support from management. According to SAQA, planning for staff development is critical for the success of RPL in an institution or workplace. The SAQA RPL policy is explicit on the need for the training of qualified and registered practitioners (SAQA, 2004) . SAQA further maintains that the implementation of RPL will require the allocation of specific roles and duties and the development of expertise in this area of provisioning (SAQA, 2004) . Recommendations to strengthen the RPL practice in the workplace Research question 4: How can the RPL processes and practices be strengthened? A number of suggestions were raised by respondents in this section. Suggestions and recommendations made ranged from aspects and issues of promotion and marketing to calls for management support. While addressing emerging trends and challenges in RPL in South Africa, in the literature not only were challenges highlighted but