Qualifications Systems

Bridges to Lifelong Learning

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In the quest for more and better lifelong learning, there is a growing awareness that qualifications systems must play a part. Some countries have started to realise that isolated developments in qualifications standards lead to uncoordinated, piecemeal systems. After reviewing the policies and practice in fifteen countries, the authors present nine broad policy responses to the lifelong learning agenda that countries have adopted and that relate directly to their national qualifications system. They also identify twenty mechanisms, or concrete linkages, between national qualifications systems and lifelong learning goals. The overall aim of this book is to provide these mechanisms as a tool for governments to use in reviewing their policy responses to lifelong learning. Evidence suggests that some mechanisms, such as those linked to credit transfer, recognition of prior learning, qualifications frameworks and stakeholder involvement, are especially powerful in promoting lifelong learning.

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Scope and Structure of the Study

In 2001, the OECD Education Committee launched a study on the role of national qualifications systems in promoting lifelong learning. The objective of the study, which directly involved 22 countries, has been to ascertain how national qualifications systems can be shaped to provide the greatest possible incentive to learn, in terms of both motivation and opportunities. What are the policy options open to decision makers that can promote lifelong learning for all? The core ideas in this study are complex, and many different words and phrases are used to communicate them. This chapter, based on input from country experts and international organisations, attempts to arrive at a common understanding of what precisely is meant by key terms and ideas.

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