23 SES 11 D, Refugee Education
Recognition and validation of prior learning (RVPL) is a new but fast growing area of policy as well as research in adult and continuing education especially due to discourse of National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) and increased numbers of migrants and refugees in Europe. Within this terrain, RVPL plays a crucial role as paving pathways to education, training and qualifications; promoting workforce development and participation in the labour market; enhancing social inclusion and democratic citizenship; and personal and professional empowerment (Singh, 2015, p. 63). It is considered as key to build inclusive societies through creating an opportunity to give access to education and training and to strengthen the qualifications of especially disadvantaged people (Harris, 1999). The UNHCR also identifies RVPL “as an essential tool for displaced persons and refugees –children, young people and adults – to record their prior learning and results obtained” (Singh, 2015, p. 81). In this sense, validation is “really about making all learning visible to encourage people to continue, help them get a job and/or raise their self-esteem” (CEDEFOP, 2016). Hence, this paper targets the recognition and validation policies and practices in Europe for refugees and migrants from a comparative perspective.
Even though there exists an increasing emphasis on the RVPL in Europe, the recognition and validation policies and practices are very fragmented both within the countries and across the countries (European Inventory, 2014). There are several approaches and different arrangements for different sectors as well. Yet, refugees or migrants are not targeted in most of the existing systems (CEDEFOP, 2016). CEDEFOP reports that only 10 countries have initiatives that directly serve the migrants. Moreover existing systems are not able to deal with the current situation of refugees “neither in terms of number of individuals to be processed nor in terms of the particular problems caused by language, cultural background and lack of written, formal documentation” (CEDEFOP, 2016). There are other challenges not only faced by the systems, but also the refugees and migrants themselves. Studies show that very limited number of migrants/refugees use existing recognition offers (Liebig, 2015). Less than 17% of disadvantaged groups, including low-skilled individuals, early school leavers, jobseekers/unemployed, individuals at risk of unemployment, older workers, migrants/refugees and people with disabilities are users of RVPL in countries with validation arrangements in one or more education subsector (CEDEFOP, 2016). There is strong and well-documented evidence that a large number of migrants work in overqualified jobs; 45% of high-educated migrants were overqualified for the work they had in 2012-2013 (OECD/EU, 2015). While over qualification is highly studied (Biffl & Pfeffer, 2013), RPVL is not discussed in the policy and research levels, and there is a lack of empirical studies tapping these issues except a few ones such as Kirk (2009), Guest and Vecchia (2010), Andersson and Osman (2008), and (Sigh, 2015).
Within this framework, this paper mainly focuses on the analysis of RVPL policies in EU as a mechanism to enhance social inclusion and equity in relation to integration of refugees and migrants in the society. “How is the political terrain of RVPL shaped in the EU, how is the social inclusion reflected in the policy texts and how do these policies affect the practice of RVPL in relation to social inclusion of the migrants and refugees?” are the key question that drive the study. The aim of the study is twofold: first it aspires to provide a clear analysis and the picture of RVPL policies in EU policy and practice) targeting the refugees and migrants in the EU and second to critically reflect on the impact of these policies on the RVPL practices from the social inclusion perspective.
This studys employs a qualitative research methodology based on policy analysis and document analysis. European level policy documents issued by the EU and the EC, and by main stakeholders such CEDEFOP on the RVPL will be analysed through interpretative policy analysis (Yanow, 2000). In interpretative policy analysis, analytic attention is shifted “to the constructed character of concepts – such as “policy,” in a broader, “governance” discourse – or of specific terms in particular policy issues – such as “integration” or “housing decay” – and their potential for multiple interpretations” (Yanow, 2015). Yanow identifies three broad categories of human artefacts to analyze – language, the acts (including non-verbal communication) and material objects that language references – which, through symbolic representation, give expression to their creators’ meanings (Yanow, 2000). In this study, policy texts, thus the language will be main artefact of analysis. In interpretative analysis the meanings of the key concepts and, of the concepts themselves emerge from the field. In the current study concepts of RVPL and social inclusion as well challenges, problems, solutions to these problems and outcomes of the process will be investigated within the selected policy texts. Different conceptualizations and identifications of the concepts will be searched within the policy text in order to shed a light on the meaning attributed by the policy makers at the EU level. Results will be presented from the critical perspective to shed light on the issues of RVPL policies at the European level with a focus on reflections of social inclusion.
A preliminary analysis of the policy terrain of RVPL in Europe indicated that EU has been showing growing interest on RVPL. Yet, there is a lack of common political and legal framework targeting refugees. Refugees and migrants are not visible in the policy and legal documents. Moreover, there exists a lack of coordination at the EU level in terms of RVPL policies and support and engagement from civil society / non-public sector. In addition, despite the abundance of suggestions made, limited concrete steps taken especially at the national levels. Further analysis will focus on the conceptualizations of RVPL in policy texts from the perspective of social inclusion.
Andersson, P., & Osman, A. (2008). Recognition of Prior Learning as a Practice for Differential Inclusion and Exclusion of Immigrants in Sweden. Adult Education Quarterly, 59 (1), pp. 42-60. CEDEFOP (2016). How to make visible and value refugees’ skills and competences. www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/pla_nl_backgroundpaper.pdf European Inventory of on validation of non-formal and informal learning (2014). Final synthesis report. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2014/87244.pdf Guest, P., & Vecchia, M. (2010). Scoping study on support mechanism for the recognition of the skills, learning and qualifications of migrant workers and refugees (Final Report). Glasgow: SCQFP. Harris, J. (1999). Ways of seeing the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Studies in the Education of Adults, Vol. 31, No.2. Kirk, J. (Ed.). (2009). Certification counts: Recognising the learning attainments of displaced and refugee students. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. OECD/European Union (2015). Chapter 14: Settling In: Third-country nationals in the European Union Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/8115051ec017.pdf?expires=1516969024&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=CC8F69E729A460B6A02E6C84FB3FC2E0 Singh, M. (2015) Global perspectives on recognising non-formal and informal Learning, technical and vocational education and training: Issues, concerns and prospects. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 21,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-15278-3_4 Yanow, D. (2000). Conducting interpretative policy analysis. London: Sage Publications.
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