Validate to Co-operate - Final report of the OBSERVAL-Net project


The present publication is one of the outcomes of the OBSERVAL-NET project (follow-up of the OBSERVAL project). The main aim of OBSERVAL-NET was to set up a stakeholder-centric network of organisations supporting the validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe based on the formation of national working groups in the 8 participating countries of the project. Each national working group worked towards bringing together key stakeholders in VNIL and political decision-makers at national level in order to coordinate policy implementation in the field. These national networks were supplemented by a cross-national level of networking, which focused on the following three thematic areas outlined in this publication:

  • The bottom-up process: The role of grass-roots initiatives in supporting VNIL, and strategies towards mainstreaming them;
  • VNIL at the workplace: The competence profile required for VNIL practitioners;
  • VNIL professionals: Success factors in the implementation of VNIL in employment settings.

The vocabulary used in the lifelong learning area is not completely fixed yet. This is even more noticeable in the field of recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning. Over many years, different terms have been used such as “Recognition of prior learning”(RPL), “Accreditation of prior learning”(APL) and “Validation of prior learning”(VPL). Sometimes, one might also see “Recognition of prior learning outcomes”(RPLO).

Recognition, Accreditation and Validation cover distinct stages in the field. For example, recognition does not mean certification, while validation usually does. “Prior learning”has now been replaced by “Informal / non-formal learning” and the term used within the OBSERVAL-NET project is “Validation”. Thus, the term used for this report is “Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning”, hereafter VNIL.

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