Comment on the National Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning (as amended in 2018). Draft for public comment dated 26 October 2018.

Mentornet fully agree with the draft National Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of RPL (referred to as “the National RPL Policy” in this feedback document). However, the RPL Policies of QA Bodies differ in some rather critical elements from the National RPL Policy. The following should be considered and, perhaps, discussed with them:

  1. Paragraph 7 of the National RPL Policy provides for RPL as a way in which to obtain credits, qualifications and part-qualifications. Quality assurance bodies that set artificial limits and preconditions for RPL can easily destroy the socio-economic and redress value of the process. Allowing RPL only for gaining access to further learning but not for certification is unfair and discriminatory.
  2. Paragraph 11 and 12.c of the National RPL Policy determines that the RPL policies of the three NQF Sub-Frameworks must be aligned with it. Hopefully all three QA Bodies will show the necessary respect for the professional work that SAQA put into reviewing the current National RPL Policy.
  3. Paragraph 15.d of the National RPL Policy accepts that the RPL Policies can differ in terms of context. This can easily be misinterpreted as meaning that different QA Bodies can accept only the terms of the National RPL Policy with which they agree, rendering the National RPL Policy ineffective.
  4. Paragraph 15.f of the National RPL Policy provides for the use of RPL for diagnostic, formative or summative assessments, to create opportunities for, or towards credit/exemption, access, advanced standing, professional designations or recognition in the workplace. Although not wrong, this extends the purpose for which RPL can be used substantially. Holistic RPL should be flexible, but diagnostics and formative assessment are only steps in the RPL process and not end-results.
  5. Paragraph 15.i and Maintaining data on how credits were achieved “under strict conditions of confidentiality” creates the impression that there is something wrong with credits achieved through RPL. A certificate is just the written confirmation that an individual has certain knowledge and skills. How the knowledge and skills were obtained is not relevant. Credits achieved through RPL and credits achieved through formal learning are of equal value and status – this should be accepted and supported unconditionally. Transparency is important.
  6. Paragraph 19. The role of education and training institutions should be protected and guaranteed, the only precondition being that the learning institutions, be they public or private, need to have the knowledge, experienced and capacity to offer learning in RPL and conduct the process if that is what they wish to do. Currently this is not reflected in the accreditation of private learning institutions, the representation of such institutions in National Coordinating Bodies or the allocation of contracts to offer such services based on merit.


In closing, quality assurance bodies currently have in their RPL Policies certain clauses that should specifically be addressed and precluded in the National RPL Policy, for example:

  • Refusing to grant learners credits towards a national qualification if the credits were achieved through RPL. Giving a learner who achieved a degree through formal learning 360 credits, but the learner who achieved 50 of the 360 credits through RPL only 310 credits for the same degree does not make sense.
  • Limiting the number of students who can be admitted to further studies through RPL. Not only is this an unnecessary and unfair obstacle in the way of redress of injustices of the past, it is also labeling RPL as inferior to formal learning. Countries with advanced RPL systems in place provide for the RPL of entire groups, which would mean that all students in a particular cohort can be accepted on account of them being assesses through RPL for full qualifications.
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Learning and Development Ethics: Article 2 of 9

Written by Dr Hannes Nel, D. Com; D. Phil

Introduction. I will discuss corruption and the consequences of unethical behaviour in this (second) article on ethics in ETD.

Corruption challenges for learning institutions. Learning institutions often do not have the financial resources to deal with legal and ethical challenges. They, therefore, cannot absorb costs related to corruption. To make things worse, government does not always set a good example, legislation is inconsistent and almost impossible to enforce, the people who are supposed to stamp out corruption are often also corrupt, and methods suggested by government to combat corruption do not work. Learning institutions can do the following to deal with corruption and sustain the organization.

  • Ensure that the manager or managers in the institution are people with integrity. You can also appoint an ombudsman, i.e. somebody who monitors that all practices in the organization are above board.
  • Corrupt practices should always be rejected no matter how big the unethical financial gain may be.
  • Report corruption. The problem with reporting corruption is that those who are guilty of corruption are also mostly well-skilled in leaving no evidence. Whistle-blowers are often victimised by those who are supposed to ensure law and order.
  • Don’t deal with corrupt people.


The consequences of unethical behaviour. Unethical behaviour always creates a chain reaction of further unethical behaviour. It causes everybody to lose money, jobs and their freedom. It often ruins the economies of countries that could otherwise have been wealthy. And ultimately, when the entire economy is ruined, the negative effects of unethical behaviour return to those who started it.

Acting ethically is simply a matter of having vision. Vision means being able to foresee the consequences of your actions. A person with vision will understand that being dishonest will not only damage others but him or her as well. If you manage a learning institution or participate in learning in an unethical manner, you will fail and you run a serious risk of losing everything that you value in life, including your freedom.

There are many (too many) examples of dishonest people who became rather wealthy. In fact, the trend is so familiar that one invariably wonders if someone who is wealthy is not corrupt as well. It is as if honesty and wealth are two opposite poles. Some may say that you can’t possibly become rich if you are a goody boy.

Ultimately your approach to learning is a matter of choice. You may choose to be corrupt and dishonest or you may choose to walk the narrow road with integrity. Corruption might well help you to make a lot of money quickly, but you may also end up with nothing, perhaps even in jail. You need not be dishonest to be rich.

Dishonest people can make it really difficult for you to refuse a bribe. Sometimes they can colour the transaction in such a way that you might not even realise that it is a bribe. On the other hand, some people might pretend not to recognize the transgression. It becomes really difficult not to succumb to temptation when you see that your competitors are doing well while you are struggling to make ends meet. However, there will always be potential clients who respect integrity and quality. They are the most valuable clients because they often support you much longer than the corrupt ones.

The problem with dishonesty is that it robs you of your freedom, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Dishonesty is not what makes people successful. It may help you land a few good contracts or get good exam marks that you did not deserve, but in the end it often backfires.

Dishonest people are always scared that others will find out the truth. They are always paranoid and they always live their lives waiting for the right time to start over, to be free. Being dishonest means building your own prison. The learner who is dishonest creates expectations with his or her employer that he or she will be able to do certain work after having been trained. You will be terribly embarrassed and might even lose your job if you cannot do the work because you cheated to obtain a certificate.

If you are a risk taker who enjoys the excitement of operating outside the law, then go ahead and enjoy the roller-coaster ride. Accept that your chances of losing your job and perhaps even ending up in jail are much higher than if you work in an honest way.

The important thing to remember about ethics is that in spite of all the codes of ethics and ethics programmes, it is not organizations that make ethical decisions. Individuals make ethical or unethical choices. It is people who put ethics into practice.

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