In 2009, the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) and the National Training Agency (NTA) were assigned the responsibility of overseeing the development of a national policy on the recognition of prior learning. The policy enables candidates to earn credit for unit standards or full qualifications which are in line with Namibian Qualifications Framework.
Challenges and opportunities
Many Namibians were denied opportunities to participate in formal education because of their involvement in the struggle for independence, which Namibia gained in 1990. Unfortunately, many of the same Namibians are still excluded from participating in education as well as in the development of their country because the skills and knowledge they acquired over the years have not been formally recognised. In many cases there is no documented proof of their skills.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) thus intends to redress past injustices by recognising and accrediting relevant prior learning and experience. RPL can play an important role within the Namibian education and training sector.
National standards, policy and framework activity
One of the key features of the Namibian Qualifications Framework (NQF) is the provision of opportunities for Namibians to gain qualifications through the recognition of competences regardless of whether they are gained in formal, non-formal or informal settings.
The NQF was created in 2006 to regulate qualifications in education and training. The Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) sets qualifications standards and is responsible for accreditation, assessment and validation of all national qualifications, including RPL (Government of the Republic of Namibia, 1996).
A formal agreement between the NQA and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) mandates the NTA to coordinate the setting of competency standards, associated national curriculum modules and assessment criteria for vocational trades up to NQF Level 5. These are then made available as packages to training providers. Registered training providers thereafter develop institution-specific policies that enable candidates to earn credits for unit standards or for full qualifications aligned to the NQF. These registered training providers also act as assessment centres.
In 2009, the NQA and NTA were assigned the responsibility of overseeing the development of the national policy on RPL. Following a consultative process, approval of the policy was granted by the Minister of Education.
Currently two separate policies on RPL are in operation. One is the RPL policy developed by NTA for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions. The other is the RPL policy developed by the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL).
A directive from the NQA to have all qualifications registered on the framework by 2015 will ultimately lead to a more integrated education system in Namibia. This will facilitate transitions between the different sub systems of the education and training system as well as upward movement on the qualifications ladder as a result of RPL or credits obtained.
Government of the Republic of Namibia. 1996. Namibia Qualifications Authority Act, Act 29 of 1996. Windhoek, Government Printers.
Government of the Republic of Namibia. 1997. Namibian College of Open Learning Act, Act 1 of 1997. Windhoek, Government Printers.
Namibia Ministry of Education. 2006. Regulations setting-up the National Qualifications Framework for Namibia. Windhoek, Government Printers.
Namibia Ministry of Education. 2009a. National Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning. Windhoek, Government Printers.
Namibia. Ministry of Education. 2009b. National Policy on Lifelong Learning. Windhoek, Government Printers.
Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL). 2008. Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning. Windhoek, NAMCOL.
H.V. Heroldt Murangi
Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL)
 NQA was established as a statutory body through Act 29 of 1996 to oversee the development and implementation of the NQF.