Development and testing of a model for implementation of recognition of prior learning.
The Minister of Education's public statement In August 1999, that South African citizens should mobilize and build an education and training system for the 21'st century . among other things emphasized the application of procedures for recognition of prior learning as part of the restructuring process. On the other hand the resolution taken by the South African nursing Council at the beginning of 2000. that enrolled nurses should be upgraded through the process of recognition of prior learning further increased the urgency for nursing education institutions to develop and implement RPL policies In South Africa, Recognition of Prior learning (RPL)is seen as an appropriate approach to offer equity and redress of past imbalances in the education and training system. The purpose of the study was to develop and test an appropriate model that could be used for Recognition of Prior Learning for nurses. To test the model, it was implemented in a form of pilot projects by three institutions. It was important for the model development to identify and involve all the stakeholders of the nursing education system. An appropriate design for the study was a multiphase decision oriented evaluation research . Stuffelbeam's Context. Input, Process and Product evaluation model was used to guide the research process. The first phase was the development of the model which involved the Context evaluation. During the context evaluation phase, the Education Committee of the South African Nursing Council and the evaluative researcher developed the guidelines for the RPL process. These were refined by the stakeholders during the regional workshops. The results of this phase was the RPL guidelines. The second phase was the Input and the Process evaluations. Each institution had to make planning decisions for Implementation. The result was RPL policies for each institution Thereafter. the three institutions Implemented the RPL guidelines to specific target groups of nurses that were identified for the purpose of the pilot project. Data collection instruments varied according to the phase of the model development. Checklists were used to measure the extent to which each Institution had followed the RPL guidelines Dunng the Product (evaluation) phase. candidates' scores were compared with those of other candidates who accessed the specific programs through the traditional entry routes. According to the results all RPL candidates were successful In the programs they aimed at accessing DUring the testing phase after access, the RPL candidates compared favourably with other the other candidates who accessed the programs through traditional routes . The result indicate that the self- directed approach used during RPL helped the candidates in the actual programs. A process onented and competency- focused model was developed through an inclusive process. Nursing education Institutions and policy makers can use the model to structure and evaluate RPL implementation in nursing education institutions in South Africa.