Key-points and recommendations


Key-points and recommendations from the EAEA / NVL Conference

“The integration of non-formal adult learning in
National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs)”

Semi-structured Open Space discussion
November 26, 2010, Brussels



1. How could the third sector/ civic society/non formal adult learning benefit from the NQF?!

What are the benefits being in NQF?

• The sector can benefit through improving the practice
• Being part of an NQF can boost the self esteem of non-formal learning.
• The NQF can create visibility for the voice for the non-formal. It can increase the market value by making visible what we do and how we do it. It also promotes the professionalization of educators within non-formal learning.
• NQFs can enhance communication between different sectors, answering the need for more cooperation. .
• As NQFs improve the transparency of qualifications, they also support mobility, both national and regional.
• The recognition of outcomes in relation to qualifications can attract potential learners and increase the motivation and participation of potential learners.
• Providers can get access to governmental funding.

What are the drawbacks of being in NQF?

• NQF accredited courses might signal to learners that they belong to the formal system, which many learners with bad experiences from education might not want to go back to.
• There is a risk of narrowing the view on learning and fear within the sector that formalization may lead to a loss of freedom & creativity & flexibility.
• Creating standards may imply exclusion and there is the danger of creating two classes of providers. Non-formal, non-accredited providers would then be in a weak position.
• In some countries, the non-formal sector lacks  the power to influence the NQF process.
• There is a risk that funding might move to outcomes rather than the learning experience provided.It might be difficult to preserve cultural differences because of the EQF.
• It is difficult to describe and therefore accredit social competences.

What factors support entering NQFs?

• Internationalization of the labor market and mobility as well as demographic change
• Consultation among the stakeholders in the country
• It is important to ensure involvement of adult education and civil society as stakeholders in the national discussions
• Consultation / exchange among countries (preferably supported by EU / funding)
• One integrated system of all qualification gained in formal & non formal settings makes non-formal learning visible and creates a better balance between formal and non-formal learning
• Good guidanceTrust/ Cooperation/ Networking/ Transparency/ Political will
• Quality Assurance for non-formal learning is important

What are the next steps that should be done?

• Awareness raising
• Legislative framework
• Conceptualization and planning
• Quality assurance – the non-formal sector should examine what it can offer;
• Accreditation can provide an important form of quality assurance;
• More and creative ways of validation of learning outcomes (like Fetac, etc.)
• Involve learners – learn from best practice but each country / culture should work with and in its own tradition.
• Promote a bottom-up process

2. Validation of non-formal learning

The most important point concerning validation clarified at the conference is that it should be up to the learners what should be validated and not. Additionally, guidance is essential in order to bring validation closer to learners and clarify the purpose and process and guidance is important in helping the learners to identify the competences, e.g. through portfolio work.

Validation of non-formal learning

• As validation focuses on learning outcomes, all learning programmes and offers should be linked to the NQF.
• It is essential that competences of adult educators can be part of validation
• Linking to teacher training programmes is important

Remain outside validation

• Having pointed out that it is up to the individual learner to decide what should be validated, the non-formal sector would also like to point out that learning for learning’s sake is essential and enhances the life-wide aspect of learning.
• It is also important to retain the support and financing for non-formal learning, study circles, development of social competences even if the learners choose this type of learning for personal development and do not intend to validate the competences.
• Informal learning like hobbies, reading, internet, study trips, cultural activities are essential even without the intention to validate the learning outcomes

3. Challenges in validation; reliability and fairness:

• Make the purpose clear!

In order to make the whole recognition and validation process reliable it is important to:

• work with and further develop Quality assurance
• choose the methods and tools that ensure flexibility, variation, and fit the purpose
• set the criteria and standards for validation and they should be updated / revised in the process
• to develop the professional competences of people working with validation

In order to make the whole recognition and validation process fair (just) it is important that there is:

• equality of access to validation and access to guidance
• a coherent process of validation and feed-back on the results
• multi-financing / joint financing: employers should take their share of responsibility, as well as authorities and individuals
• individual’s right to appeal

4. How to raise awareness of the value and importance of NQF?

• Continuous and inclusive discussions of all stakeholders
• Mixing different interest groups, common working groups
• Local, national workshops, conferences, meetings
• Media support
• Adoption of strategic documents
• More examples from learners, it is important to know their experience
• Education organizations – capacity building of institutions, modularization of education, flexibility of offers
• NGOs – networking, advocacy, campaigning in cooperation with the state org., harmonising the NGO work with NQFs
• Employers – should be motivated to take part, and get involved more actively
• Trade Unions – support and lobby for NQF
• EU – funding, mobility, peer learning, twinning, best practice sharing, technical project help
• EAEA – follow-up, brochures, examples, life-stories radio/TV, build a network within the theme, expert support for further work