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Unit Standard No.12164Page 16

The learner and assessor usually plan the portfolio jointly as sources of evidence may vary. The learner is then responsible for the collection of evidence and the compilation of the portfolio.

Once a portfolio of evidence has been compiled, this portfolio needs to be assessed by an assessor to see if it meets all the requirements of the specific unit standard/s being assessed.

8. What is recognition of prior learning (RPL)?

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is a key principle of the NQF particularly in as far as accelerated learning and ensuring the redress of past inequities is concerned, though it is not confined for use in these instances. It can be defined as:

Recognition of prior learning is giving credit to what learners already know and can do regardless of whether this learning was achieved formally, informally or non-formally.

The NQF recognizes that learning takes place in a variety of settings, for example:

Formal education and training programmes

Formal and informal on the job education and training

Self-study for enjoyment or improvement of qualifications

Informal experience gained in the workplace or community

Non-formal in-house education and training

Where appropriate, such learning should be recognized and credited.


There is no fundamental difference in the assessment of previously acquired skills and knowledge and the assessment of skills and knowledge achieved through a current learning programme. The learner seeking credits for previously acquired skills and knowledge, still has to comply with all the requirements as stated in the unit standard and will be assessed to determine competence.

The only difference is that this learner will not need to go through a learning programme. Obtaining credentials is not dependent on time spent in a learning programme, rather on the learner’s readiness to demonstrate competence. A learner who feels ready can present himself/herself for assessment and/or submit the necessary evidence as required by the learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Exactly the same principles, i.e. currency of evidence, sufficiency of evidence, validity of evidence and authenticity of evidence, apply in an assessment of prior knowledge.

Another useful way to understand RPL is to refer to it as “recognition of current competence”.  

9. What is “outcomes based education”?

Outcomes based education means that there is a focus on the outputs and end results of learning and not the inputs. In other words, what is the learner capable of producing or applying at the end of the learning? What competence can the learner display?

The diagram below attempts to explain this in more detail:

INSMAT final materials31/10/03

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