Professor Patrick Werquin
Professor Dr Patrick Werquin

Professor, CNAM (Conservatoire national des arts et métiers)
French Tertiary Research and Adult Education Institution
Paris, France


Professor Dr Patrick Werquin is currently a professor at CNAM: Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, French Tertiary Research and Adult Education Institution, Paris and an international independent consultant based in Saint-Sulpice-sur-Lèze, France. Prior to these posts, he was senior economist with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), directorate for education; and Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI).

Professor Werquin has been working and publishing on education and training policies, lifelong learning, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), national qualifications systems and frameworks (NQS and NQF), adult learning, low-skilled individuals/workers, adult literacy, new competences and assessment of adult skills, school-to-work transition, validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning outcomes (RPL, RNFILO, VAE), credit transfer, statistical indicators and econometric analysis of education and the labour market; in all OECD countries as well as in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab World, Europe and Southeast Asia.

At the Lifelong Learning Conference, he will be presenting “Recognising All Prior Learning Outcomes: Do’s and Don’ts’”, where he will share his idea that recognition of prior learning is a philosophy. It exists, or will exist, in many forms; and there is no such a thing as a unique one-size-fit all approach to recognition of prior learning. It should always be adapted to the context (culture, educational sectors, age and motivation of the participants). Issues are not the same in technical vocational education and training sector, in the tertiary education sector, and in the adult learning system. They are not the same either in Africa, Latin America, Asia, or Europe. Based on his experience from all the continents, and educational sectors, he will show the pros and cons of the different approaches, and clarify why such and such approaches are not recommended, or not, in such and such contexts.

1. How will Recognising All Prior Learning Outcomes (RPL) shape and change the future of learning?

Recognition of prior learning is essential for the future of learning because it explicitly recognises that we all learn everywhere and all the time, and that the outcomes of this learning have value, and should be given currency. Recognition of prior learning outcomes leads to a change of focus from learning activities to assessment of learning outcomes and actual competences. Because what matters is what individuals know and can do, and not where and for how long they have been learning. Recognition of prior learning outcomes is the most inclusive approach in the field of education and training: it potentially allows individuals to enter university without the academic prerequisite, and/or anyone who could not go to school or could not go long enough to achieve a qualification worth something in the labour market. It promotes self-esteem.

2. How can universities better integrate RPL in their overall assessment to augment and accelerate learning experience for students?

Universities can use the recognition of prior learning approach so that their students, and potential students, receive only the education and training they need. Correctly positioning students at their exact level, and identifying their actual needs, is key to effective and cost effective delivery of learning activities in the tertiary education system. Recognition of prior learning allows to considerably increase the pool of potential university students, because it allows the entire adult population to apply for entering university. Indeed, it provides a technology to assess all applicants, identify their actual level and needs, and therefore deliver only the top-up education and training they need.

3. What is the key insight from your presentation towards building learning societies in the future?

Recognition of prior learning is a philosophy. There are many ways to implement a recognition of prior learning approach, and all are good as long as they are adapted to the context and objectives of the stakeholders.

The main key insight is that learning takes place everywhere and all the times, and that all learning outcomes should be considered. Some countries are ahead of others in implementing approaches to recognition of prior learning outcomes. It does not mean they should be mimicked. Understanding the context, and adapting the recognition of prior learning to the context is a key element to success.

The core of recognition of prior learning is assessment. It should never be overlooked. It takes many years to build a reputation, and some months to kill it.

View Slides

View Visual Map