Twenty-two countries2 have helped to build up the OECD’s knowledge base on recognition of non-formal and informal learning outcomes. The various documents produced, including the 22 background reports drafted by the countries concerned are extraordinarily varied and informative (www.oecd.org/edu/recognition) and this paper seeks to concentrate on their essentials. It is thus the internal perspective of countries which is considered here.
This paper describes national circumstances as viewed by the countries themselves while also casting light on their practices. It is based largely on the country background reports and sets out the policy responses developed by each country. It thus focuses on the practices of countries and regions and, as far as possible, includes quantitative data or refers to pilot projects. The idea is to see how countries and regions relate recognition to ongoing challenges, whether of a societal nature or connected with the labour market. Indeed, in preparing their own policy responses many countries are looking beyond their borders and on occasions far afield – as in the case of Australia which is following the Bologna/Sorbonne Process – and striving for international excellence. In the European Union, for example, the many existent or emerging systems are already having a broad impact on the preferences of its member states and other countries. Herein lies the importance of a paper on national practices and the contexts in which they have been introduced. The examples provided draw on different country practices without claiming to be exhaustive.
The paper consists of two sections. The first reviews contextual factors, at least in so far as they may influence in one way or another systems for the recognition of non-formal and informal learning outcomes, especially in terms of their potential role as catalysts or inhibiting factors in recognition procedures. It then offers a description of how systems are organised, with their legal frameworks, procedures, technical arrangements and possible pilot programmes. The sections are structured by topic. Depending on circumstances, the paper includes entries by country or by topic where viewpoints are similar.