The Government of Mozambique approved on 17 August 2021 the decree that operationalises the System for Recognition of Acquired Skills (SRCA) in Mozambique. In light of this decree, the pilot project for the implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) was implemented by the National Vocational Education Authority (ANEP) in collaboration with Swisscontact's Skills to Build Project, designed to formally assess and recognise skills and experiences acquired through informal or non-formal learning.
Ida Alvarinho, who is in charge of the Department of Professional Qualifications of the National Authority for Professional Education (ANEP), gives an insight into how the implementation of the RPL system through a pilot project has turned out and what the recognition and certification of acquired skills will mean for the economy, the country and its people.
The Government of Mozambique is implementing a profound reform of the vocational education sector and one of the aspects that is part of this new subsystem of vocational education is the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The RPL system arose to respond to the large number of citizens in the country who have acquired professional skills in certain qualifications but have not yet had the opportunity to have these skills officially recognised because there was no system to regulate such a certifications process. We know that there is an informal system in the country where we find “technicians" that we hire on a daily basis to do some work on our houses, cars, etc., but they cannot apply for public contracts, cannot get references even when they want to conduct self-employment, because they only have their personal statement, they do not have a document that recognises and validates their competences. Therefore, on the one hand, they don't have access to employment, reducing their employment capacity, and, on the other, the "formal" development of the country is underestimated, because it does not "officially" count this labour force.
During the implementation of the pilot project, ANEP had the responsibility to organise, provide and communicate the requirements that the centres need to fulfill to implement the RPL process and also to provide the technicians to facilitate the training of trainers which allowed trainers to become official RPL facilitators and evaluators, to conduct the elaboration of RPL referential and to supervise the evaluation of competencies of RPL candidates. Swisscontact provided the technical support, financed the training of trainers, and equipped the centres with the necessary material and tools for the training and practical tests. It was also through Swisscontact and its partner, the National Youth Council, that candidates who were already working in the neighbourhoods were identified in their workshops.
The training centres involved in this process were already partners of Swisscontact. Three training centres were identified: The Vocational Training Centre for Electrotechnics in Maputo and the Vocational Training Centre of Machava, both belonging to the Institute for Vocational Training and Labour Studies Alberto Cassimo (IFPELAC) and the Vocational Training Centre for Water and Sanitation, under the Ministry of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources.
With Swisscontact, in general, it has been an exemplary collaboration. During the implementation of the pilot project, regular meetings every week were held, where we evaluated the previous week and planned the coming one. As it was a new activity in the country and not everything was possible to be planned, some problems and difficulties, mainly on the training centres' side, arose and were solved thanks to the great collaboration between ANEP and Swisscontact.
Most African countries are like Mozambique: A large part of the active population participates informally in the economy of the country, and the informality goes as far as not having any document that shows that the person is skilled. I hope that many facilitators will be trained in different parts of the country and that the system will be implemented and become locally enrooted and that it will develop. We started with a pilot, all done in-person, but possibly in the future some competencies will be assessed remotely.
First of all, it is to spread the knowledge about the RPL system and its regulation to vocational training institutions and companies to stimulate their interest in becoming certified as RPL centres and from there provide assistance and control the first works that these centres will do.
As ANEP, we are grateful for the support of Swisscontact in this process, because without it, it would not have been possible to carry out this pilot project. The collaboration with the centres comes with many difficulties, and we must highlight the agile way in which it was possible to collaborate with Swisscontact and together find real and local solutions to the difficulties that arose. It is a good example of collaboration between a government institution and an international cooperation organisation.
The Skills to Build project is financed by Happel Foundation, among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).