WOU hosted a 21-member delegation, comprising senior officials of various quality agencies, higher education authorities and community colleges/institutes from 12 countries in the Pacific islands, at the main campus today.
Accompanying the delegation on their study tour to WOU were Gail Townsend, Education Programme Specialist of UNESCO Cluster Office for the Pacific States, Apia, Samoa, and Jihye Hwang, Programme Specialist of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok. The focus of the visit was to learn about the implementation of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in Malaysia.
Earlier from April 19th to 24th, they had received briefings at the Malaysia Qualifications Agency (MQA), Cyberjaya on TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), quality assurance, Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF), Code of Practice for Programme Accreditation (COPPA), and the Code of Practice for TVET Programme Accreditation, and had visited a few educational institutions that conduct TVET.
At WOU, following an overview on WOU by Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, they had a half-day session on APEL with Registrar cum Director of Quality Assurance, Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi. He informed that WOU had been part of the team that developed the two APEL instruments for admission [APEL (A)] and credit transfer [APEL (C)]. In fact, WOU was the chair of the panel that develops the APEL(C) instruments.
His talk focused on five key areas, namely the emergence of APEL; types and objectives of APEL; APEL policies; APEL assessment tools; and the implementation of APEL where he shared on WOU’s experiences and challenges. He also elaborated how WOU has worked closely with MQA since WOU is one of the national APEL assessment centres appointed by MQA.
He stated that APEL (A) for admission and APEL (C) for credit transfer have already been successfully implemented in Malaysia, while APEL (Q) that focuses on awarding academic qualifications without subjecting students to the entire duration of studies has yet to commence.
Dr Liew said that APEL (A) certification is centrally controlled by MQA while the processing of credit transfers under APEL (C) is managed at the institutional levels.
During Q&A, MQA Senior Director of Accreditation, Lilian Kek Siew Yick, who was present, responded that institutions can embed traditional and cultural learning elements as part of their APEL assessment tools.
UNESCO’s Townsend, in thanking WOU, said, “The take away is that we must be focused on what’s best for the learner. In the Pacific, we want to move forward and engage our learners.”
Separately in an interview, she said, “APEL is of importance to the Pacific at the moment. But don’t make the system become so bureaucratic that it overtakes the need of the learner.”
She declared that she will be discussing with the team in Bangkok in a few days’ time to work out what UNESCO can do next, going forward, for the participants. “We will do a complete evaluation to find out how confident the participants feel to take things forward themselves, and then where would they like further support. So it will be those areas of further support that we will try to arrange to put into place and then we will monitor. It’s about what UNESCO can contribute based on what countries need and our strengths.”
The delegation also visited Universiti Sains Malaysia on April 26th before returning home.