|The Courier N° 123 Sept - October 1990 - Dossier Higher Education - Country Reports: Barbados - (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)|
|Training schemes under Lomé II and III|
Educational reform was undertaken in 1971 and 1972, but its failings, particularly on the technical and vocational side, were such that a general conference on education and training had to be held in 1981.
After this, the National Reform Commission invited the Education Ministry to set up the New School , a new departure which, according to the countrys 7th Development Plan, was aimed, inter alia, at extending vocational education and bringing the quantity and quality of vocational training more into line with the needs of the employment market.
The schemes involved here include the creation and development of CRFPs - Regional Vocational Training Centres - in the interior, to promote economic activity in all branches of the modern, traditional and informal sectors which either presently exist or which could be encouraged in the rural areas.
The 5th EDF has financed a detailed study of two regions - Saint Louis and Ziguinchor - where the problem of tailoring training to present and future employment is particularly acute.
The Senegal Valley development policy, involving the gradual development of irrigated farming and directly and indirectly allied activities, was the cause of some upheaval, particularly on rural life, in the St. Louis region. It resulted in concentration of population in areas by the river, development potential for agro-food industries, activities prompted by the increase in irrigated crops and a change in traditional methods resulting either in unemployment or emigration.
The education system had to meet the demands of this situation and ensure that the extension of irrigation and improvements to growing methods would indeed make it possible to reactivate the economy and encourage other development possibilities (in fishing, craft linked to production systems, intensive animal rearing and so on).
Surveys of businessmen, producers (in the modern sector) and operators in the craft sector (masters, qualified craftsmen and apprentices) revealed that there were considerable needs to be met at virtually every level. Technical training for specific posts and a higher standard of literacy in the modern sector, as well as training and advanced technical skills in administration, financial management and production organisation in the craft sector were called for.
General training (in French and mathematics) for apprentices is seen as a priority (being the stepping stone to technical qualifications), as is a more specific grounding in general mechanics, metalwork, welding, furniture assembly, clothing manufacture and electronics.
This area has very sound physical and climatic potential when it comes to the sort of development that is focused on agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism.
Surveys suggest that requirements in the modern sector hinge on improving general and technical knowledge, perfecting work organisation and developing in-service training.
Professionals consulted in the informal sector stress that training arrangements should be compatible with craft production methods (and involve evening classes and crash courses). Priority for apprentices is on literacy and training in technology, followed by mechanics and electrics.
The whole idea of the CRFPs is to set up decentralised training structures that are flexible and can be constantly adapted to the needs of the economy in the regions concerned. In practice, this adaptability is achieved, in particular, by having all the regions economic operators (administrators, professional organisations, businessmen and the users themselves) involved in defining the training schemes.
It is the CRFPs job to assist the aforementioned category of young person, namely those already outside the school system or taken out of courses by an apprenticeship.
The beneficiaries of the scheme are craftsmen and manual workers, people in charge of groups and associations (of women, youngsters, villagers etc), apprentices, lower secondary school pupils who cannot follow vocational training courses, small bosses in trade and industry and women (additional training and job creation).
On offer are technical, practical and theory classes (in construction techniques, ironwork, woodwork and mechanics) for craftsmen and manual workers, additional training (in literacy, current events etc), educational training for selected craftsmen with a view to passing on technical skills to apprentices, basic training for apprentices and courses to bring young people in a learning situation up to standard.
The training schemes are designed to cater for needs, in the light of local resources and in coordination with the other people involved (businessmen, professional organisations and so on), and they can therefore be altered or amended from one year to the next to provide the best possible response to the demands of the labour market and the sectoral policies of the Government.
General principles of training
The Centres educational principles involve ensuring a constant link between training and production, which of course means developing the sort of educational engineering which will provide permanent diagnostic, design and evaluation facilities.
Other, equally vital principles behind the coherence of training and production include alternating theory and practice, producing utilitarian objects in the workshops, getting teams of teachers and students to fit out their own workshops, access to local workshops and, lastly, issuing formal qualifications in the light of the professions recognition of skills actually acquired. If there is no reference to national diplomas, then there will be no slippage into fields already amply catered for by the surplus diploma-holders turned out by many conventional training institutions.