How does Recognition of Prior Learning Promote Lifelong Learning?


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Presentation Werquin

  • Prof. Patrick Werquin, Ph.D., French Tertiary Education and Research Institute (CNAM), Paris


Recognition is a term that applies to several different concepts in the fields of education, training, and/or learning. This contribution focuses on the specific case of recognition of non-formal and informal learning outcomes (a.k.a. recognition of prior learning outcomes, RPL). Even in this context reduced in scope, recognition has two different meanings. It applies to the recognition of learning outcomes acquired outside of any formal environment: it is the technical recognition, i.e., assessment, or validation by assessors. It also applies to the general acceptance, by the society, that a qualification awarded in the RPL system – or in general, but the issue is more complex in RPL – is a proof of competences: this is the societal recognition.

After a short conceptual clarification along the lines mentioned above, the communication attempts at showing that RPL is a real opportunity to promote lifelong learning (LLL), and for different reasons. It touches on the fact that RPL is not meant to just award full-blown qualifications, and it may also allow successful applicants to be grated exemption for access to the formal education and training system, and typically to the higher education system. It also goes into developing arguments about who are the typical lifelong learners, to show why the RPL approach is conducive to further learning throughout life. In the particular case of university, RPL may appear as a reasonable cost-effective solution to fight the declining demography and the ever-diminishing number of individuals leaving upper secondary education, by increasing the pool of potential students.

Recognition of prior learning outcomes is not only one of the most inclusive approach that exist in the field of education, training and learning, it is also an effective and efficient policy tool.

Prof. Patrick Werquin Ph.D.

Patrick Werquin is currently professor at CNAM: Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (French Tertiary Research and Adult Education Institution; National Conservatory of Occupations, Vocations and Trades), Paris; and international independent consultant based in Saint-Sulpice-sur-Lèze, France. He has worked, among others, with and/or for the French Development Agency (AFD), the Cedefop, the CIEP, CTB-Enabel, DVV-International, Ecorys, EFMD, European Commission (DG EAC, DG Reform, EACEA), GHK-ICF, GTZ-GIZ, IaDB, IBE-Unesco, INCOM, I&D, ILO and ITC-ILO, IPPR the JP Morgan Bank, LuxDev, OCEMO, Panteia, SADC, SAQA, SFERE, TRU, UNECA, UNESCO, 3s Research and several ministries in many different countries.

Prior to these posts, he was senior economist with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), directorate for education from 1999 to 2010, including with the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI-OECD); and with the French National Research Centre on Employment and Qualifications (CEREQ, Centre d'études et de recherches sur les qualifications) from 1992 to 1999. He was lecturer with École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris and Marseilles, from 1989 to 1992.

He has a PhD. in Economics (1989, micro-econometrics of the labour market) and one in Social Sciences (1999, school-to-work transition of TVET graduates), and more than 30 years of experience in the field of data collection and modelling in the field of education, training and the labour market.

Patrick Werquin has been working and publishing on education and training policies, lifelong learning (LLL), technical and vocational education and training (TVET), national qualifications systems and frameworks (NQS and NQF), adult learning, low-skilled individuals/workers, adult literacy, new competences and assessment of adult skills, school-to-work transition, validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning outcomes (RPL, RNFILO, VAE), credit transfer, statistical indicators and econometric analysis of education and the labour market; in all OECD countries as well as in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab World, Europe and Southeast Asia.

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