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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in adult education and training


11.Quality assurance

11.2Quality assurance in adult education and training

Last update: 8 June 2022

The reform of the education and vocational training (VET) system by the  Resolution of the Council of Ministers No 173/2007, 7 November) focussed on both young people and adults. As such, measures for monitoring and assessing dual certification provision are geared towards these groups.

Decree-Law No 92/2014, 20 June establishes the legal framework for private and public vocational schools in non-higher education, regulating their creation, organisation and operation, as well as the state’s authority and supervision.

In 2017, the Portuguese government requested support from the European Commission for the implementation of an adult education and training quality assurance model via the Structural Reform Support Programme.

Following this request, the European Commission appointed the OECD, in liaison with national government bodies, to identify and help employ strategies to implement a quality assurance model, considering good practices and lessons learned from other countries facing similar challenges.  

During the initial stage, the OECD should present an analysis of the situation in Portugal, considering all entities involved in the different aspects of quality assurance in adult education and training.

This analysis will be the starting point for the quality assurance in adult education and training project that ANQEP, I.P. is currently engaged in, as part of the work for the European Agenda for Adult Education that should be concluded in 2021.

Responsible bodies

As part of its responsibilities, the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP, I.P.) developed and implemented a series of measures to ensure the quality of the system, including:

  • the Qualifica Centre Quality Charter, which defines the indicators and quality standards of the organisation and functioning of the centres.
  • training programmes for trainers and staff from Qualifica Centres, to prepare recognition, validation and certification of competences professionals, as well as analysis and referral staff.
  • local monitoring plans, annually defined at national and local level, involving central and regional departments of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition, as well as the body responsible for European Social Fund management.
  • the implementation of the self-evaluation process of the Qualifica Centres, through the CAF model, with the creation of functional clusters of centres that help improve performance, promoting excellence and encouraging networking.
  • the progressive development of the Information and Management System of the Education and Training Provision (Sistema de Informação e Gestão da Oferta Educativa e Formativa - SIGO), which allowed simultaneous monitoring of Qualifica Centre activities, co- and self-regulation of institutions in the field and speedier up decision making. The analysis of SIGO indicators was extensively used to ensure the improvement of centre activity, highlighting strengths and overcoming weaknesses on a professional, institutional and organisational level.
  • the creation of the National Qualifications System (Sistema Nacional de Qualificações - SNQ)  and the New Opportunities (now Qualifica Programme) Initiative Monitoring Committee, which employed external experts and representatives of the social partners.
  • national external evaluation study of vocational courses.
  • national and international external evaluation study of New Opportunities Initiative – adults.
  • national external evaluation study of education and training courses and specialised artistic courses.

External studies have contributed to improving the system by providing data that allowed on-going and continuous evaluation of the suitability of the initiative.

The Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (Inspeção-Geral da Educação e Ciência- IGEC) is responsible for the external evaluation of the School Association Training Centres (Centros de Formação de Associação de Escolas - CFAE), which is, in turn, responsible for the continuous training in EFA.   

IGEC is also involved in evaluation for the Adult Education and Training Control Programme, which is focussed on adult education and training made available by public basic and upper secondary schools, which are part of the National Qualifications System.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

External evaluation of adult education and training

As part of the implementation of the New Opportunities Initiative (current Qualifica Programme), a review of the adult education sector was commissioned by the National Qualification Agency (ANQ, I.P.) (currently ANQEP, I.P.) and entrusted to a team of researchers from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (from 2009 to 2010), focussing on two major fields of current adult education and training policies:

  • the first assessment area was geared towards the production, processing and analysis of indicators regarding the achievement of strategic objectives for adults and operation of the centres.
  • the second assessment area includes the monitoring and self-evaluation of the network and the performance and degree of organisational maturity of the centres and the adult qualification system as a whole.

The study highlights recommendations to address future challenges related to the New Opportunities centres, such as:

  • reducing waiting times between enrolment and first reception and referral and then until the beginning of the qualification process.
  • streamline referral procedures for training provision outside centres via coordination between supply and demand.
  • maintaining high standards in qualification processes, considering the charter of quality, key-competences reference framework and existing technical and methodological guidelines for the different phases of the competence acquisition and certification process.

In 2012, a study was conducted on the performance of adult graduates in the employment market. Split into two studies, this evaluation, which was conducted by Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in response to a request from the ANQEP, I.P., sought to assess the performance of adults in the process of Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC), on adult education and training courses (EFA Courses) and certified modular training in the employment market, considering two aspects (employability and salaries).

In 2017, the 21st Portuguese government and OECD began collaborating for the National Skills Strategy, to identify concrete measures to improve adult education and training, specifically targeting adults with low qualifications. This study resulted in an evaluation and a set of recommendations for this sector. Published in 2018, it was entitled, "Implementation Guide for the Skills Strategy for Portugal: consolidating the adult education and training system". This study evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the Qualifica Programme, among other aspects.

Since 2018, the Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (Inspeção-Geral da Educação e Ciência - IGEC) has been involved with the Adult Education and Training Control Programme, which focusses on adult education and training provided by public basic and upper secondary schools, which are part of the National Qualifications System.

This programme has the following aims:

  • to ensure the legality of the operationalisation and implementation of adult education and training provision in public schools.
  • to verify the inclusion of adult education and training provision via autonomy mechanisms and school management procedures.
  • to assess procedures for curriculum operationalisation and learning assessment and certification in adult education and training, as well as the coordination between school clusters and non-clustered schools and the Qualifica Centres.
  • to analyse school results monitoring procedures and their impact on changes to educational provision.

In relation to the external evaluation of education and training provision for young people, see Subchapter 11.1 - Quality Assurance in Pre-School and School Education.

External evaluation of School Association Training Centres (continuous teacher training)

The legislation related to continuous teachers training and the tasks of the School Association Training Centres (Centros de Formação de Associação de Escolas - CFAE) establishes that the external evaluation of these training facilities is the responsibility of the Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (IGEC).

Improving teacher quality is associated with better teacher performance, which means that continuous training has an essential role on professional development.

With the deployment of the external evaluation of CFAE, IGEC aims to:

  • promote the quality of continuous training, identifying strengths and priority areas to improve the work of the CFAE.
  • match continuous training with the goals of local and national educational policies, facilitating teachers’ professional development and improving teaching quality.
  • leverage the CFAE and schools’ internal resources for quality training, based on the identified priorities.
  • contribute to continuous training regulation, providing those responsible for public education policies and the CFAE’s administration with pertinent information.

Monitoring of education and training provision for adults

Since 2007, ANQEP, I.P. (former ANQ, I.P.) developed and implemented monitoring models for education and training provision for young people and adults, which included AET courses, Certified Modular Training and Qualifica Centres (formerly called Centros Novas Oportunidades and Centros para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional).

In 2017, five teams were created to monitor the activity of Qualifica Centres, as part of a relaunch of adult education and training and the activities of the Qualifica Centres network, as well as improving their responsiveness.

These monitoring teams, one for each NUT II (North, Centre, Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve) are made up of two professionals from ANQEP, I.P., one from IEFP, I.P. regional services and two from DGEstE regional services. They are responsible for:

  • monitoring the work of each centre in its area (NUT II) by analysing the monthly information provided by ANQEP, I.P.
  • supporting the work of the Qualifica Centres teams of the respective NUT II.
  • supporting activities to mobilise the adult population.
  • carry out follow-up visits to the Qualifica Centres of the respective NUT II.
  • systematise the work carried out as part of the team's responsibilities, on a monthly basis.
  • participate in the network coordination and monitoring meetings with ANQEP, I.P.

In relation to the monitoring of education and training provision for young people, see Subchapter 11.1 - Quality Assurance in Pre-School and School Education. This subchapter has information about EQAVET - European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training and the Portuguese model for the Level 4 provision of the National Qualifications Framework (QNQ).