The RPL Conundrum: Recognition of Prior Learning in a teacher upgrading programme. Teacher Education in South Africa Series

Publication data:

  • Author(s):
    • Breier, Mignonne
  • Date:
  • Country:
    South Africa
  • Document Type:
  • Keywords:
    educators, phronesis, educational policy, Curriculum Development, Prior learning assessment, prior learning, South Africa



The practice of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the education of adults seeks to affirm and accredit the knowledge and skills which they have already attained in the course of their working lives. This monograph explores the implementation of RPL in a programme designed to upgrade tens of thousands of under-qualified teachers and finds a baffling dilemma: how does one value prior learning which one believes to be misguided, outdated, or inappropriate?

Case studies of the implementation of RPL in the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) at three universities present interesting approaches to the conundrum and reveal the importance of phronesis, or practical wisdom, in considerations of RPL.

This form of knowledge and of reasoning enables the individual to navigate the complexities of daily living in the light of a strong sense of morality and community. Formal recognition of phronesis may not be possible, but including the concept in the curriculum of a teacher upgrading programme may help to make the RPL component more effective and meaningful.

The RPL Conundrum is part of the Teacher Education in South Africa series. The series documents a wide-ranging set of research projects on teacher education conducted by the Education, Science and Skills Development research programme within the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), as part of a consortium of research partners.

A comprehensive investigation of the dynamics shaping the professional development of educators, the series provides important reading for educationists, academics and policy-makers.

[Author Abstract]


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