The Portuguese case of RPL new practices and new adult educators: some tensions and ambivalences in the framework of new public policies
This article reports the main contributions of an original empirical research project whose primary objective was to understand some of the complexities of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) practices in general and those referring to the Portuguese RPL case in particular. The main purpose of this study was to reflect critically upon the contemporary RPL practices and policies. Of particular relevance was the discussion of some aspects of (i) the form and mission of RPL as well as some aspects of (ii) the role and profile of RPL adult educators. These concerns were taken within the framework of a new adult education and training (AET) strategy and the ‘new educational order’, originating in late modernity. The four models used to capture ways of seeing RPL practices, proposed by Judy Harris, were theoretically revisited (as heuristic devices). However, this was assumed only as one possible route to better problematise the empirical findings. The results allow us to establish, for instance, that the need for outcomes with regards to the number of adults certified became progressively more important in the Portuguese case; that these practices tended to view learning as a cognitive process instead of a reality embedded in social practice; that this RPL was more about individual advancement than about collective advancement; or even that this RPL structure can be seen as a strategic device whose social purpose was more about constructing a new invisible form of exclusion than an innovative way of inclusion.
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