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Malawian delegates in Zanzibar to learn about Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme


Delegates from Malawi on Monday arrived in Zanzibar for a week-long special study tour of the Island’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme. Members of the Malawi Government, Technical Vocational Training Authority ( TVTA)  and the International Labour Organisation (ILO)  visited Zanzibar’s Vocational Training Authority (VTA)  training centres where the Malawian delegates had the opportunity to learn about RPL firsthand.

The ILO defines RPL as the process of identifying, documenting, assessing, and clarifying informal learning against formal education and training standards. It provides an opportunity for informally skilled workers to acquire qualifications that match their knowledge and skills without going through formal education or a training programme. Since 2019, the RPL programme has been part of the government's National Skills Development Programme, which has set a target of reaching 10,000 candidates per year.

The United Republic of Tanzania has been identified as the best country in Africa from which to learn about RPL since the successful launch of the programme in 2014. To date Tanzania has assessed and certified over  30 000 workers with Vocational Education Training Authority (VETA) certification in 10 different occupations and Malawi hopes to emulate  this success.

VTA Senior Officer Mr, Khamis Mkubwa welcomed the delegates to the VTA training centre in Mkokotoni and shared the VTA methodology for conducting RPL. “VTA piloting the programme in 2019 with technical and financial support from ILO. We had over 240 applicants from which over 170 were assessed and certified. We are now on the second phase of the programme.”

Mr Mkubwa also shared some lessons learned:

“We now are focused on increasing the number of women RPL candidates and have identified more women centred occupations for certification.” 

Mr. Willie Dooms Kamanga, Malawi Ministry of Labour Senior Deputy Secretary louded the Government of Tanzania for the successful implementation of the National Skills Development programme saying:

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Government of Tanzania for welcoming us to draw on lessons learned while running the RPL programme and see how we can align ourselves to best practices and guidelines. Tanzania is the benchmark for the RPL programme in Africa so we are in the best place to learn,” he remarked during his opening remarks while visiting the PMO-LYED headquarters in Dodoma on Monday.

Malawi is in the process of piloting its own RPL programme but faces various challenges which they hope the learning visit will help to mitigate. Malawi, like Tanzania, views RPL a viable system to address unemployment by recognizing and certifying informally acquired skills in local contexts. RPL is expected to be more beneficial to those that may have no or limited access to formal technical and vocational training, workers in various workplaces who wish to their competencies formally recognized, individuals who are interested in furthering their education at every level among other reasons.   

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