Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Bangladesh: Challenges and Recommendations for a Brighter Future

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Bangladesh: Challenges and Recommendations for a Brighter Future

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Bangladesh: Challenges and Recommendations for a Brighter FutureThe Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) system in Bangladesh has emerged as a crucial pathway for validating and certifying the skills and knowledge of individuals who have gained their expertise through work and life experiences. As the global landscape rapidly evolves, the importance of recognizing competencies acquired outside of formal education and training has grown significantly. The RPL program, initiated under the National Skills Development Policy of 2011 and facilitated by the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP) under the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), has been instrumental in bridging the gap between practical experience and formal qualifications. However, as with any complex system, it faces several challenges and requires specific recommendations to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.

Understanding the RPL Process in Bangladesh

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process in Bangladesh is a vital mechanism designed to recognize, validate, and certify the skills and knowledge of individuals who have acquired their expertise through practical experiences in work and life. This process plays a critical role in bridging the gap between informal, experiential learning and formal qualifications, thereby promoting lifelong learning and facilitating career progression. To comprehend the RPL process comprehensively, we need to break down the key steps and components involved.

  1. Initial Application and Registration

The RPL journey typically begins when individuals interested in seeking recognition for their skills and knowledge decide to apply for RPL assessment. They usually approach RPL assessment centers or authorized organizations responsible for administering the RPL process. The candidates are required to submit an initial application, which often includes personal information, details of their work experience, educational background, and any other relevant documentation.

  1. Candidate Eligibility Assessment

After receiving the initial applications, the RPL assessment centers or organizations assess the eligibility of candidates. This assessment often includes verifying the authenticity of the provided information and ensuring that candidates meet the minimum requirements for the RPL assessment. These requirements may include a certain level of work experience, a minimum education level, and relevant skills in a specific field.

  1. Orientation Program

Once deemed eligible, candidates are usually required to attend an orientation program. The orientation program aims to prepare candidates for the upcoming assessment process. During the orientation, candidates are familiarized with the RPL process, the assessment criteria, and what to expect during the assessment. This orientation is particularly crucial for candidates who might have limited prior exposure to formal assessments.

  1. Skills and Knowledge Assessment

The heart of the RPL process lies in the actual assessment of the candidates’ skills and knowledge. This assessment phase is conducted by qualified assessors who are experts in the respective field of assessment. It typically includes two key elements:

  • Review of Work Experience: Assessors carefully review the candidates’ work experience and practical skills. They assess whether the candidates have the required competencies in their chosen field. The review often involves analyzing documents, portfolios, and any other evidence provided by the candidates.
  • Practical Assessment: Depending on the nature of the skills being assessed, candidates may need to demonstrate their abilities through practical assessments. For example, a candidate seeking recognition as a welder may need to perform welding tasks, while a candidate in a different field may be required to complete relevant assignments or assessments.
  1. Assessment and Certification

After a thorough review of work experience and practical assessments, assessors determine whether a candidate is competent in the relevant skills or partially competent. Competent candidates have successfully demonstrated the required competencies, while partially competent candidates may need additional training or experience to achieve full competence. Successful candidates are awarded RPL certificates that validate their skills and knowledge.

  1. Certificate Issuance

Competent candidates receive their RPL certificates upon successful completion of the assessment process. These certificates serve as formal recognition of their skills and can significantly impact their employment opportunities and career advancement. It’s important to ensure that the certificate issuance process is efficient to maintain candidates’ motivation and trust in the RPL system.

  1. Post-Assessment Impact

Assessing the impact of the RPL program on candidates’ employment and socio-economic status is another crucial aspect. This involves tracking the progress of candidates after receiving their RPL certificates to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. It also helps determine whether RPL certification leads to better employment opportunities, higher incomes, and career advancement.

  1. Recognition and Awareness Building

The success of the RPL system also depends on the recognition of RPL certificates by employers, educational institutions, and society at large. Awareness-building campaigns and workshops for employers are essential to inform them about the value of RPL certification and encourage them to recognize and hire RPL-certified individuals.

Challenges Facing the RPL System in Bangladesh

  1. Awareness and Outreach: One of the primary challenges facing the RPL system is the limited awareness among potential candidates. Many skilled individuals are unaware of the RPL program and its potential benefits. This lack of awareness inhibits the program’s reach and effectiveness.
  2. Application and Selection Process: The application and selection process for RPL assessments can be cumbersome. Some candidates may face difficulties obtaining the necessary leave permissions from their employers to participate in assessments. The selection process may also be perceived as less transparent by some applicants, which can deter potential participants.
  3. Language Barriers: The RPL assessment tools are available in English, which poses a significant challenge for candidates with lower levels of literacy. Providing assessment tools in Bengali alongside English could help address this issue.
  4. Involvement of CBT&A Trained Instructors: CBT&A trained instructors, who have valuable skills and experience, are not actively involved in the assessment process. This underutilization of their expertise leaves both the instructors and the RPL system at a loss.
  5. Delays in Certificate Issuance: While competent assesses receive their RPL certificates in a timely manner, partially competent candidates often face delays in certificate issuance. This inconsistency needs to be addressed to ensure fairness.
  6. Certificate Validity: The inclusion of a validity duration of five years on competency certificates may not be necessary and can potentially devalue these certificates. Consideration should be given to eliminating this validity duration.
  7. Awareness Among Employers: While some level of awareness about RPL exists among employers and society, there is room for improvement. Employers play a critical role in recognizing RPL-certified individuals, and further awareness campaigns may be beneficial.

Recommendations for a More Effective RPL System

Addressing the challenges mentioned above is essential to ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of the RPL system in Bangladesh. Here are specific recommendations to overcome these challenges:

  1. Diverse Advertising: Utilize various communication channels such as TV and radio broadcasts, posters, leaflets, and local cable TV channels to raise awareness about the RPL program and attract potential candidates.
  2. Streamlined Application Procedure: Simplify the application process, including accepting employer-provided ID cards and considering skill tests as an alternative to evidence of work experience. This will make the program more accessible and transparent.
  3. Effective Orientation: Ensure that the orientation program is effective and tailored to the literacy level of candidates. Increasing the duration of the orientation program may also help candidates better prepare for assessments.
  4. Utilize CBT&A Trained Instructors: Encourage the participation of CBT&A trained instructors as assessors. Their experience and skills can significantly contribute to the quality of assessments.
  5. Timely Certificate Issuance: Address delays in certificate issuance for partially competent candidates to ensure fairness and maintain motivation.
  6. Certificate Validity: Consider eliminating the validity duration on competency certificates to enhance their perceived value in the job market.
  7. Employer Awareness: Conduct campaigns and workshops to raise employers’ awareness of the benefits of hiring RPL-certified individuals. Their support and recognition are crucial for the success of the program.
  8. Enhanced Monitoring and Supervision: Implement robust monitoring and supervision mechanisms to ensure the efficient implementation of the RPL program and maintain its quality.
  9. Institutionalization: To ensure the sustainability of RPL in Bangladesh, institutionalize the program as a regular activity within the DTE and BTEB. This will help maintain its continuity and effectiveness.
  10. Address Language Barriers: Offer assessment tools in Bengali alongside English to cater to candidates with lower levels of literacy.
  11. Shorter Assessment Durations: Consider shorter assessment durations, such as one day or half a day, to reduce costs and encourage more candidates to participate.
  12. Web-Based Tutorials: Develop web-based tutorials in Bengali to help candidates better understand the RPL process and requirements.
  13. Alignment with Education Levels: Align different levels of RPL with formal education levels to make it easier for employers and educational institutions to recognize and accept RPL certificates.
  14. Motivational Workshops: Conduct motivational workshops for potential candidates to help them understand the value of RPL certification and encourage participation.

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) system in Bangladesh holds great potential for empowering individuals with formal recognition for their skills and knowledge. By addressing the challenges and implementing the recommendations outlined above, Bangladesh can further enhance the RPL program’s efficiency and inclusivity, ultimately contributing to the economic and social development of the nation.


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