Challenges and opportunities at institutions of higher education
Given the funding challenges discussed earlier, institutions would need to strategise to develop alternative funding of RPL. A possible option would be to develop specialised RPL modules in core learning areas an offer these also as continuing professional development courses to registered professionals and in this way attract third stream income. Another option would be to consider how RPL specialised modules related to research/research projects, at the postgraduate level, can be co-published with the student and consequently receive research output funding. In this regard, such research could open opportunities for collaborative forms of research; this will be discussed further later.
Attitudes to quality assurance/knowledge assumptions
Perhaps the most pertinent impediment to RPL are the entrenched attitudes and knowledge claims of academics, socially and intellectually conditioned within a paradigm of formal and often socially disconnected education. At the base of an alternative system is a fundamental value of respect for society, beyond the confines of academic silos, which is a vital source of knowledge through lived experiences, realities of diverse contexts, cultural practices and socio-economic agency.
Evaluation and assessment are, however, confined within formal nonns and standards; different learning pathways, contextual experiences and lifelong learning are not given much consideration. Importantly, the value of assessment as a driver of learning and the potential of rigorous assessment to bridge gaps in learning, assessment as pedagogic practice, requires much overdue consideration and deliberation.
Institutions of higher learning would require the investment of time and resources to openly interrogate the possibilities that RPL can offer to academic programmes through alternative pedagogies and different ways of thinking about research and publication. There is a need for support to those academics who are actively engaging with research and practice of RPL to drive policy development and strategies of the effective implementation through collaborative engagement. Administrative support for RPL is also an area lacking at most institutions of higher learning in South Africa; however, this again relates to a conservative national funding model.