RAC in Flanders
In Flanders the term ‘EVC’ (Erkennen van Verworven Competenties – Recognition of Acquired Competences) is used to refer to the validation of non-formal and informal learning. RAC can be used to get admission to an education and training programme, to request exemptions from (parts of) a study programme and to obtain a Work Experience Certificate. An RAC-pathway consists out of four steps: identification, information, assessment and certification. The existing conceptual framework on RAC in Flanders meets the European recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
RAC is a topic relevant to various policy domains: education and training, work, youth, culture, sports and welfare. In Flanders the procedures and practices of RAC vary amongst the policy domains on the basis of different regulations. In order to avoid this fragmentation the Flemish government is developing an integrated approach towards the recognition of acquired competences. To this aim the Flemish government approved on 17 July 2015 the concept note ‘Integrated policy for the recognition of competences’. The aim of this concept note is to create a single framework linking the validation process to the Flemish Qualification Structure and creating common standards and quality assurance.
RAC in Flemish adult education
Adults who wish to obtain the diploma or certificate of secondary education at a later stage can take an exam at the Central Examination Committee. This is possible for a selection of educational programmes offered in secondary education. Exams are being organised all year around.
In addition, the Flemish Parliamentary Act of 15 June 2007 relating to (formal) adult education defines exemptions linked to the modular organisation of educational programmes. The Adult (Basic) Education Centres provide an evaluation for each module and can grant a course candidate exemption on the basis of credits for prior learning and/or an evaluation of competences. Different validation procedures and techniques can be used in different centres. However some centres offering the same programmes are cooperating towards more standardisation in their validation procedures and techniques. For RAC-candidates, these procedures in Adult Education Centres are free of charge.
The assessment of modules and the granting of exemptions are the exclusive competence of the Adult (Basic) Education Centres. The centres themselves are responsible for providing counselling and guidance, raising awareness, undertaking assessments, certifying the outputs of the validation procedures and providing quality assurance.
Department of work and social economy
The Department of Work has set up a procedure aimed at the recognition of non-formal and informal learning. This procedure is called the ‘Certificate of Work Experience’ (Ervaringsbewijs) and was created by a parliamentary act approved in April 2004. It allows people to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills needed to practice an occupation.
By the beginning of 2013 the Flemish Employment Services and Vocational Training Agency (VDAB) has implemented an operational platform for competence based matching which uses common tools and languages to match the competences of an individual to those required by employers. It is based on Competent, an online competence management system managed by the Flanders Social and Economic Council consisting of occupational profiles validated by social partners and stakeholders. The matching system is considered to be innovative and a good practice within Europe.
Socio-cultural adult work
In the socio-cultural sector Socius, the support service for social and cultural adult education, developed the tool Oscar. This tool, which is mainly an identification and documentation instrument, can be used as a portfolio to bring together experience from informal and non-formal learning environments. The socio-cultural sector has shown a wide interest to work with Oscar, which shows it is a useful tool for many organisations. However, similar examples of useful portfolio tools exist in the field.