Recognition of Prior
Learning Policy


The Workers ‘College has organically practiced the Recognition of Prior Learning since its formation and sees this practice as critical to its mission relating to emancipatory workers’ and Community Education. This policy is to align these organic practices within a QMS system formalising development implementation, assessment and moderation of certified programmes providing access to higher and lifelong learning paths and accrediting existing skills and knowledge within the NQF.

Recognition of Prior Learning is a principal aspect of the NQF.  It allows for the formal recognition of experiences, skills, and knowledge acquired by individuals of all ages and backgrounds outside of formal learning.


This policy deals with RPL as it relates to various ETD and other standards for:

  • Award of credit
  • Identification of gaps for provision of top up training
  • Award of Credit resulting in access to a higher level qualification or programme

RPL Definition

RPL is the summative assessment of what the learner has achieved up until the time of assessment through formal and informal experiences.

Principles of RPL Assessments


The standards should be accessible, easily understood and have real meaning to users.


Assessors must be fully aware of what is to be assessed as indicated in the unit standard, the specific outcomes and the assessment criteria.

Evidence collected from assessment activities and tasks must be related to specific outcomes specified in the unit standards or the qualification.

Reliability & Consistency

  • Assessment among all learners must be consistent with the same contextual standards.
  • There is a setting of high quality standards within a well-documented process using unambiguous procedures.
  • Simple, clear and well documented assessment procedures must be followed.
  • Clear, unambiguous assessment criteria must be the norm.
  • Assessors must be well trained.

Fairness and Flexibility

In order to ensure fairness of assessment practices should:

  • not disadvantage any individuals;
  • be accessible to all eligible persons;
  • be flexible in order to:
    • accommodate the scope of knowledge and skills encompassed in the assessment criteria;
    • the variance of contexts;
    • the range of needs and personal situations of potential candidates;
    • use multiple, parallel forms of evidence to measure the same competencies.

Role players in RPL

The following persons are involved in the RPL process:

  • The candidate
  • The RPL advisor
  • The RPL facilitator
  • The RPL assessor
  • The RPL moderator

Roles and Responsibilities of RPL advisers, assessors and moderators

RPL Advisor:

Must have extensive knowledge about the occupation and learning opportunities related to the occupation/experience of learners;

  • advises on the suitability of evidence of competence offered by the RPL candidate;
  • is skilled in advising and counselling;
  • provides advice on how to draw up a RPL portfolio;
  • does not make assessment judgments.

RPL Assessor

Assessors perform the normal assessment activity.

RPL Moderator

The moderator will perform the normal moderation activity.

RPL Evidence

What is critical to the RPL process is the evaluation of past experience of the leaner.

In terms of NQF principles, past experiences are evaluated in terms of notional credits, based on the fact that one notional credit is the equivalent of ten hours of relevant experience.  In order to properly evaluate the past experience of a learner, an RPL advisor assists the candidate in the compilation of a portfolio of evidence of prior learning experience relevant to the unit standards or qualification to be assessed.

A portfolio of evidence (PoE) is a collection of evidence or facts compiled by a learner to illustrate his or her learning and personal experience. This evidence can be direct or indirect.  The evidence contained in the PoE must meet the requirements of the relevant unit standard(s) and/or qualification as set out in the specific outcomes and assessment criteria before a candidate can be deemed competent and awarded the credits and/or qualification.

The portfolio of evidence should, where relevant, consist of the following documents:

  • a brief CV including personal, academic, training, employment and experience details;
  • documentary evidence relating to experience inclusive of working with various types of ETD practices;
  • copies of certificates, diplomas, work testimonials, etc.;
  • work history;
  • job description of candidate’s present position;
  • history of his/her coaching experience and
  • merit awards and achievements

At the completion of the portfolio, the learner is referred for assessment to an allocated assessor.  The assessor follows the procedure documented in the assessment policy

Quality And RPL

SAQA requires that stringent quality control management systems in place for all education and training providers and that these be constantly monitored by the ETQAS.  RPL is one form of assessment, and is based on the principles of assessment.  The policies and procedures relevant to assessment, moderation, record-keeping and others are thus relevant to RPL and will be verified by the ETQA as such.

RPL Record Keeping

The following records must be kept in respect of the assessment process:

  • Unit standards-relevant to the RPL assessment
  • Outcome of each assessment including:
  • who was assessed;
  • what was assessed;
  • what evidence was collected;
  • where the evidence came from and when it was collected;
  • how it was demonstrated and the method of assessment used to evaluate it;
  • what units of measurement or performance criteria were achieved;
  • when competence was confirmed;
  • when the credits and/or qualification were granted.

RPL documentation includes:

  • Needs Analysis
  • RPL questionnaire
  • Portfolio guidelines
  • Interview schedule  (if applicable}
  • Portfolio Assessment Tool (for the assessor)
  • Template for assessor’s report
  • Template for moderator’s report
  • Appeals policy and procedure

RPL Process

Applications for RPL should be made on the RPL Application Form (attached), and the applicant should indicate clearly the unit standards against which he/she wished to be considered for RPL. The Candidate must also make application for such programmes in the normal way.

A discussion will then be scheduled between the Applicant and the Workers’ College RPL Advisors, to clarify the process to be followed and make decisions around the purpose of the RPL and the most appropriate form of assessment and process for this purpose. E.g. access to a programme, top up education on certain unit standards or certification against a standard/s or a qualification.

The process to be followed will be that the Applicant will discuss with the Assessor the unit standard(s) being addressed, and all agree on the nature of the evidence required to be submitted either in the Portfolio of Evidence, or the assignments, practicals or examinations required for a successful RPL process. All such elements should be compiled into a POE. It is usual to refer the candidate to various formative and summative assessment tools that may exist in programme learner guides already.

The RPL candidate will then be assisted with the collection of the evidence for the portfolio, or preparation for the assignments or examinations by a facilitator or advisor.

Once the candidate is ready, he/she may submit the portfolio, or the assignments, or arrange for the practical, oral or other and or combined assessment to take place.

Once the Portfolio or the assignments have been submitted, the Assessor will scrutinize the evidence presented, and make an assessment decision. This will be communicated to the candidate, and if necessary a rationale  presented.

Candidates who are unsuccessful may resubmit modified Portfolios of Evidence, and seek a successful RPL in this way.

Candidates should know that they have the right of appeal to the Workers’College moderator or visiting verifier. This will be done by informing the staff in writing that the candidate wishes the matter referred to the Visiting Verifier. The staff will acknowledge the intention, and will facilitate a meeting between the candidate and the moderator/visiting verifier, and will make available whatever documentation may be required by the moderator /Visiting Verifier in order to deal with the appeal. The decision of the Visiting Verifier will be communicated to the candidate and to staff.

Appeals Process For An RPL Assessment

Should a learner be dissatisfied with an assessment, s/he should attempt to resolve the difference with the assessor first. Should this prove unsatisfactory to the learner, s/he has the right to appeal.

The appeal mast be made in writing on the prescribed form.(see Appeals policy WC.4.09.1.)

A learner may request that the portfolio be reassessed by a different assessor.

If there is still no agreement a moderator would be asked to assess the portfolio.

If the learner is still not satisfied, the matter will be referred to the review committee or to an ETDP quality assuror/verifier for further assessment.

Such reassessments would not be influenced by the original assessment as all evidence of such an assessment would he removed from the portfolio in question. The learner and the assessor will be notified of the results of any reassessments in writing.

The appeal and the results of the appeal are recorded and stored electronically in the learner records.

If the learner is still dissatisfied with the moderator’s decision regarding the appeal, he/she may apply in writing to a relevant ETQA authority.