6.4 Validation of non-formal and informal learning
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As stipulated under the Education Act, Malta established the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) to be responsible for the validation of informal and non-formal learning process.
The general process of validating informal and non-formal learning (VINFL) consists of:
- identification through dialogue of particular experiences of an individual;
- documentation to make visible the individual’s experiences;
- formal assessment of these experiences; and
- certification of the results of the assessment which may lead to a partial or full qualification.
NCFHE has worked in collaboration with different sectors in developing occupational standards.
NCFHE had started working on the childcare occupational standards by organising the Health and Social Care SSU according to the requirements listed in the Subsidiary Legislation. NCFHE has seven functioning Sector Skills Units working on Occupational Standards and is in the process of setting up another Sector Skills Unit. The roles of these Sector Skills Units vary from proposing occupational standards relevant to the sector, to providing guidance and counselling services to individuals submitting their documented experiences for validation and audit all assessment processes and results achieved thereby.
The following policies and documents serve as a reference to the development of the professional competences of staff involved in the validation process across all relevant sectors:
- Subsidiary Legislation 327.433 Further And Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation And Quality Assurance) Regulations
- Manual of Procedures for Provider Licensing and Programme Accreditation Version 1.2 Updated September 2016
- The National Quality Assurance Framework provides guidance to educational institutions that embark on the processes of Internal and External Quality Assurance in order to enhance the learning outcomes provided through their educational programmes. It is underpinned by the following six principles.
- The Manual for VET Providers and the Handbook for VET Providers (CEDEFOP)
- The handbook is meant to guide VET providers through a quality journey, based on the PDCA (plan-do-check-act/review) cycle, which underlies any quality management system (QMS). The handbook’s guidelines, advice and practical examples are taken from 20 providers of initial, continuing or sector-based vocational training, all of which have successful and mature quality management in place.
- The Manual for VET Providers is a guideline on how to implement Quality Assurance and is not prescriptive in any way. The Manual provides examples of good practice on how quality indicators can be used in the quality cycle systematically. It does not prescribe one system to be adopted by all. It does not set the criteria for accreditation required by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE).
The NEET Activation Scheme II aims at encouraging the re-integration of young people who are detached from the education system or from the labour market through targeted intervention and empowerment. Through this scheme, participants are individually profiled and receive forty hours of personalised assistance from assigned youth workers and another eighty hours of motivational and behavioural training intervention covering topics such as: Guidance on employment; Communication skills; and CV writing skills. This training enables participants to develop skills that are necessary for them both as members of society and as prospective employees. Following this initial phase, young people are requested to either further their training through continued education or else participate in a work exposure experience, leading to an offer of traineeship. In both instances, participants receive an allowance which should be equivalent to the minimum wage (subject to a number of conditions including performance and attendance).
The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) was officially launched to foster the development and achievement of excellence in further and higher education in Malta through research, effective licensing, accreditation, quality assurance and recognition of qualifications established under the Malta Qualifications Framework.
NCFHE focuses on:
- providing accreditation to further and higher educational institutions;
- providing accreditation to programmes or courses of studies at further and higher education levels;
- quality assurance of both educational institutions and programmes or courses;
- recognition of obtained national or international qualifications as well as prospective qualifications;
- validation of informal and non-formal learning;
- research and policy recommendation on issues related to further and higher education.
The following National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) frameworks are providing guidelines to assess and validate non-formal and informal competences in Malta. The national criteria and guidelines focus primarily on systematic quality work and assurance to carry out validation at first hand and also include external quality assurance.