n South African Journal of Higher Education - Recognition of prior learning (RPL) : from principle to practice in higher education

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Significant developments in RPL are taking place in the formal education and training systems in South Africa alongside other policy and curriculum initiatives towards access, equity, flexibility and lifelong learning. Demands to have learning gained informally from experience recognised will be great. This raises questions regarding the kind of RPL practices that could exist within higher education. Offering RPL could pose a big challenge to education and training systems, especially in terms of the absence of learner-centredness and the lack of curriculum flexibility in many parts of the higher education system. The problem, however, does not lie in the acceptance and adoption of the notion of RPL, but in the measurement and evaluation of learning that has taken place in varied ways and circumstances. The consideration of RPL requires a new commitment by higher education institutions to rethink some accepted meanings of higher education learning and particularly of higher education programmes. This article aims to contextualise RPL as a principle and to show the implications of recent developments in education for implementing RPL in higher education in South Africa.

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