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close this bookAPPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 3: Equivalency Programmes (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 69 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentChapter 1: Definition, Roles and Characteristics of Equivalency Programmes
View the documentChapter 2: Structural Models for Secondary Education Equivalency
View the documentChapter 3: Organizational Infrastructure
View the documentChapter 4: Clientele, Delivery Systems, and Learning Resources
View the documentChapter 5: Curriculum Framework and Materials Design
View the documentChapter 6: Evaluation, Accreditation, and Certification
View the documentChapter 7: A Training Curriculum for Equivalency Programmes Personnel
View the documentChapter 8: Equivalency Programmes and their specific Relationships with Continuing Education
View the documentAnnex: List of Participants
View the documentBack cover

Chapter 6: Evaluation, Accreditation, and Certification


a) What to evaluate

Evaluation in relation to the curriculum component is the first phase is evaluating an equivalency programme. The purpose of the evaluation is to clearly ascertain how effective and efficient the programmme has been in providing for the special group of learners for whom it caters.

In equivalency programme special issues to be addressed should include the effectiveness and relative efficiency of the programme compared to the programme for which it is an alternative. In particular, care should be taken to check if the delivery mechanism and the teaching methodologies are appropriate and offer a genuine alternative rather just a mirror of the programme for which it is to be an equivalent.

Evaluation should also give appropriate guidance to the individual learner to assist in the improvement of his or her learning. In equivalency programmes this type of evaluation should also show relative status in each of the alternatives. In non-formal continuing education alternatives it should also focus on broad outcomes such as general vocational skills, societal knowledge and values, and capacity to participate in community affairs.

As in all types of evaluation attention should be given to both short-and longer-term issues. In equivalency programmes short-term evaluation should focus mainly on achievement of immediate objectives while longer-term evaluation should focus on matters such as the impact of the equivalency on increasing educational opportunity. A key long-term issue should be to find out if certain equivalency programmes should be discontinued as courses for which they are alternatives or strengthened and diversified.

Another aspect of evaluation in equivalency courses is the special problem faced by such programmes because of the need to decentralize. While it is desirable, as in all types of education, to devolve responsibility for evaluation, such devolution must be undertaken in the full awareness of local responses not only within the programme itself, but in the programme for which it is an alternative.

b) How to evaluate

In equivalency programmes it is especially important that the evaluation be consistent with regulations and accreditation procedures. It is important that organisers help learners understand what the evaluation aims to measure and why such evaluation offers a means of making adjustment in learning. «Lack of success» comes to be regarded as a learning experience and not as a failure.

Self-evaluation is very important in equivalency learning. This is because most non-formal equivalency programmes stress self-paced autonomous learning.

c) Process of evaluation

As in any educational programme the system of evaluation is controlled by the objectives as set in the curriculum. For equivalency programmes evaluators and teachers may evaluate according to the following scheme.

Figure 6.1: A scheme for evaluation of non-formal equivalency programmes

The scheme as set out in figure 6.1 focuses mainly on short-term issues - particularly on the achievement of course objectives. While this is the main role of day-to-day evaluation, broader longer - term aspects need to be addressed such as the continued viability of the programme as a whole and its relationship with the programmes for which it is an alternative. The process of evaluating such aspects is complex and involves an analysis of policy and an investigation into national educational aspirations and needs.


Usually, in education, especially formal education, in both the required and elective courses, the teacher is the person who determines the behavioural objectives, materials, and the methods of teaching, and then evaluates the teaching in accordance with behavioural objectives one-by-one. This is shown in the following scheme:


In equivalency programmes, however, the approach used is more the non-formal one. When the learners are adults, then all aspects of the learning processes may jointly be determined by the teacher/ tutor and the learners. The evaluation should also include self-evaluation by the learners themselves.

Broader aspects of evaluation, such as evaluating the role, purpose and effectiveness of the course as a whole, require more complex procedures such as document analysis, use of observation, checklists, interview performances and social surveys.


Accreditation is at the core of equivalency programmes. Accreditation is a system of certifying or crediting competencies (knowledge, attitude, and skill - KAS) gained in one educational channel to another channel, thus facilitating flexible entry and re-entry to both channels.

Most Member States have some system of accreditation but this may vary from country to country. Focus is usually on competencies (KAS) gained from various sources whether formal or non-formal and giving corresponding credit(s) for these towards the work being done in a particular educational stream. Judgment on which competencies or experiences to credit and how much to credit may be done through various methods such as testing and projects accomplished. There is usually an accrediting body which sets standard for recognition of skills and which bridges learning systems to the world of work. However, in some countries the accreditation system may have to be expanded to include various alternative learning systems.

Guidelines for developing accreditation tests should take into consideration the following main ideas:

1. In equivalency programmes, emphasis is on preparation for the world of work, relating it ith income-generating and employment-generating schemes. It is not on the so-called «academic or intellectual» stream. Nevertheless, the learners who want to continue for further study must be given the chance to do so.

2. An optimistic view of education should guide the preparation of accreditation tests. A motivated learner should be able to catch-up after lagging behinds thus tests must be able not only to show mastery Of information but motivation to learn.

While accreditation has its value in terms of providing wider access to «recognised» education by crediting competencies gained outside the formal system, there are issues that may have to be addressed such as:

a) What are the limits of accreditation, if any? What proportion of accreditation should be allowed?

b) What can be credited for work done in one situation to that obtained in another situation?

c) Should there be just one national accrediting body or should accreditation be institution - based or both?

d) Who will set the standards and how should the standards be set far accreditation for equivalency programmes?

f) What measures have to be taken to safeguard the system from abuse?

The ideal should be to give maximum credit for all types of achievement. For cross accreditation between formal and non-formal courses; for life experience; between government and non-government programmes; for individualized project work and for work experience.


By certification is meant the award which “certifies” that the holder has attained a certain standard or level of education. To be of value such certificates must be widely «recognised» and accepted by educational agencies and individuals.

This volume has been limited to equivalency programmes at the level of secondary education. In that context certification may be carried out according to the type of equivalency programme. It can be categorised into at least four types of certificates as described below:

a) Formal secondary certificate

In this category, the learners of non-formal education programmes use the curriculum of formal education for study and take the school examination set by the formal school system together with learners from formal education at the end of the term or year.

b) National examination certification

In this category, the non-formal secondary education may or may not use the curriculum of the formal secondary education but may also join in an examination provided by an independent National Education Examination Centre. Any who pass the examination get the certificate according to defined criteria. Such a certificate would be awarded to candidates from either the formal or non-formal systems.

c) Non-formal education curriculum - Formal examination certificate

In this category, learners follow a non-formal education curriculum, but at the end of the term or year they take examinations of the formal education system. Under this category the curriculum of both non-formal education and formal education should not be very different, otherwise the non-formal candidates would be unlikely to succeed.

d) Non-formal Education Curriculum - NFE examination certificate

In this category, the NFE Department developes its own curriculum and gives a test or examination developed by the NFE Department itself. However, the certificates should be equivalent to the formal education at certain levels. This implies that they must be adequately «recognised» by the community at large.


In spite of the notable progress in providing equivalency programmes for the out-of-school population, the on-going programmes in the region are far from satisfactory. The scope and definition of equivalency programmes will need to be continuously re-examined to meet new challenges. The intended beneficiaries need to be further identified.. Partnership among government, non-government and community groups need to be strengthened and expanded to maximally mobilize available resources.

There are several issues which are currently creating considerable concern. These include the following:

1. How to increase greater access by disadvantaged groups, particularly out-of school youth and adults, the handicapped, populations in remote areas, and minority groups.

2. How to improve the programme’s flexibility and responsiveness to the various target groups and maintain quality and standards.

3. How to continue achieving transferability with formal education but at the same time resist the increasing pressure to formalize non-formal education?

4. How to more effectively integrate work-oriented curricula in general equivalency programmes?

Some directions for the immediate future (1993-2000) may well include the following:

1. Upgrade the levels of educational attainment of the work force to at least the level of lower secondary education through equivalency programmes.

2. Expand information systems through establishment of nation-wide networks of reading Renters, public libraries and learning resource centres and utilize mass media for more effective implementation of equivalency programmes.

3. Expand and improve vocational equivalency programmes with an emphasis on closer relationships with demands of the labour market and local earning opportunities.

4. Develop equivalency programmes for specific target groups with special needs and problems.

5. Create closer integration and linkages between formal and non-formal education, especially equivalency programmes.

6. Improve the quality of equivalency programme curricula.

7. Decentralize planning and administration of equivalency programmes to operational levels and promote greater participation of target group representatives in programme organisation and evaluation; and

8. Improve coordination and collaboration among agencies involved in equivalency programmes including both GOs and NGOs.