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Recognition of Prior Learning

The RPL process is one which considers your knowledge and experience to gain a qualification. If you select a qualification that is closely related to your experience, you won’t have to attend much if any training. You can skip the training that inexperienced people would normally complete and jump straight to being assessed.


Imagine you dropped out of high school in Grade 10 (standard 8). You are now 32 years old and were employed as a sales assistant before being promoted to store manager. Your duties include managing staff, cash ups and promotions. You have decided it’s time to complete your Matric and study further.

Your  work experience can prove you have communication, mathematical literacy and business management skills in place. If you collect and create appropriate and relevant evidence to prove these competencies, you can avoid lectures and prepare for assessment.  This is key to the Recognition of Prior Learning process.

Being Assessed

Many are intimidated by assessment as they fear being unfairly judged. Current education theory encourages democratic approaches to assessment allowing for negotiation of the process and the presentation of evidence. Evidence must meet specific assessment criterion and exit level outcomes to be used for evaluation. Candidates compile portfolios of evidence that prove the presence of relevant skills, knowledge and values.

Portfolio of Evidence

The following documentation must be contained in your POE:

  • Personal details and contact information
  • Table of contents listing the various sections of the portfolio
  • Full curriculum vitae expanded to include a detailed work history
  • Include a print out of the SAQA  qualification you wish to be awarded
  • List of learning outcomes / standards for the award
  • Details of analysis recorded as COMPETENT / NOT YET COMPETENT with identified evidence referenced
  • Referenced / indexed listing of evidence – referenced to learning outcomes. For example, draw up a table, in one column list each specific outcome, in the next the assessment criteria, in the third your evidence, and finally the page number where the evidence is found
  • Copies of correspondence / application forms etc
  • Details of meetings with mentor

The POE must also contain a combination of direct and indirect supporting evidence.

Direct Evidence

  • Sometimes candidates must attend training to close specific gaps in knowledge and skill areas. Include your formative and summative evidence in your POE.
  • Project or work based assignments
  • Evidence of work based assessment – on the job assessment for work skills
  • Job specifications
  • Company organisation charts
  • Personnel records of in-house training and development
  • Accounts of personal experiences
  • Employer endorsement and / testimonials
  • Prior qualifications, Certificates of Education & Training etc
  • Training, assessment and test results
  • Curricula /course descriptions / outcomes
  • Staff training records / personal records
  • Products of work, samples of documentation / work undertaken, photographs

Indirect Evidence

Not all evidence needs to be created during learning programs. You can use evidence from the past 2 -3 years that shows what you already knew and managed to do before the program. (Check on valid time frames with your mentor. Some qualifications may only accept evidence from the past 12 months.)

  • Membership of related organisations and societies
  • General references
  • Newspaper cuttings
  • Other evidence – accounts of overseas experience, voluntary work etc
  • All relevant evidence and documents relating to the prior learning of the candidate must be identified by the candidate. Some evidence will be easily available, some will require further research through contact with present and former employers, personnel departments, trainers, personal contacts and other supportive sources.
  • Your mentor can assist you to identify the range and types of evidence to be presented.

More articles on RPL

The RPL policy, role of the assessor and evidence collection

What is RPL?

Qualification opportunities for the working adult

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Charles Cotter Apr 12, 2016 at 11:45 am

Very interesting article, Leonie.

I’ve taken the liberty of sharing on Twitter and the Facebook and LinkedIn group pages of the Southern Africa Professional Trainers Association (SAPTA). SAPTA is about to embark on the Certified Professional Trainers (CPT) process, which essentially, is a RPL process. I thought that our members would find the information useful.

Thanks and regards.

Charles Cotter
SAPTA Vice President

    Leonie Hall Apr 14, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Share share share! It’s music to any bloggers ears Charles! Thanks so much for reading and the time you took to share. I’m happy you find the info useful and relevant – more to come! I appreciate your endorsement.

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