Recognition of prior learning: why is it so difficult to accredit learning that has occurred outside the academy towards the award of a qualification? a report from Australia
Wheelahan, L, Miller, P & Newton, D, 'Recognition of prior learning: why is it so difficult to accredit learning that has occurred outside the academy towards the award of a qualification? a report from Australia', Experiential, community, workbased: researching learning outside the academy, proceedings of the 2nd international conference of the Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning (CRLL), Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, 27-29 June, Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland, pp. 245-253.
One of the key drivers for RPL is its perceived capacity to act as a mechanism for social inclusion within the context of lifelong learning policy frameworks that seek to “encourage formal learning, to promote links between it and informal learning and to improve opportunities for people to use their informal learning to gain recognised qualifications” (Young, 2001: 4). However, it has not acted as a mechanism for social inclusion in Australia or internationally. This paper seeks to answer the question: why is it so difficult to accredit learning that has occurred outside formal education and training towards the award of a qualification, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds? The paper draws on research that the authors were commissioned to undertake in 2002 for the Australian Qualifications Framework Advisory Board. In this paper we consider two factors that inhibit the extent to which RPL is implemented: the focus on RPL as an outcome, with insufficient attention paid to RPL as a process; and, the extent to which RPL is mediated by, and mediates, exclusionary processes in formal education and training. Formal education and training is contextualised by the discourse of lifelong learning, which can increase opportunities on the one hand, but on the other, can act to “increase tendencies towards greater inequality, and [which] may [help to] entrench existing ones” (Field, 2002: 104).