|Enhancing Cooperation Between Technical and Vocational Education and the Economy in Swaziland (UNESCO, 1993, 58 p.)|
In this document thus far, we attempted to narrate and share with the reader data from research, commissioned studies, and personal long interviews pertaining the role that vocational and technical education can take, and the major impact it can make on the economic development of Swaziland. As manifested in the document, perhaps the most compelling pressure on the Government of Swaziland to exercise educational reform and restructuring in favor of vocational and technical education in the last 10 years is the unpreparedness of noncollege bound youth for the wage and nonwage labor market. Sustainable economic growth is an impossibility if there is no adequate and skilled labor pool for business and industry. In a situation where the industrial base is limited (like in Swaziland), possession of vocational and entrepreneurial skills becomes relevent and critical in respect of noncollege bound high school graduates, unemployed "educated" youth, and dropouts.
Further reshaping and restructuring of vocational and technical education to enhance economic development will recquire changes in existing educational policies and structures. However, there are constraints on vocational and technical education that restrict its contribution to economic development.
· Swaziland formal school education system is experiencing high repeat and drop-out rates. Dropping out tends to occur at an early stage of general education before students have reached a point of acquisition of literacy, numeracy, and vocational skills (if offered at all) adequate for initial job entry into the labor market, or be self-employed. The lower the grade level at which students drop out, the less likely are the acquired basic skills (general and vocational) retained by the learner. Among other reasons contributing and central to the high rate of dropping out, is the problem of relevance of the formal schooling to the needs of students.
· The Swaziland education system is experiencing high costs of delivery of formal general education with a relatively high Government recurrent budget allocation and expenditures. About 35% of the 1991/92 recurrent budget was allocated to education (Economic Planning Office, 1993). A greater proportion of this budget goes to formal general education with far less, and disproportionate attention given, to nonformal, out-of-school vocational and technical education.
· Educational planning and manpower needs remain unsynchronized. The discrepancy between formal employment opportunities and the number of school leavers is an indication that planning for the educational system does not take into account the relatively small size of the formal labor market economy in proportion to the fast growing population and the need to develop alternative programs of study.
· Career counseling and development services enhance sustainable economic growth by providing, among other things, services needed to assist vocational technical students or any other persons in making the transition from school to employment. These services are constrained by:
1. Lack of a national data bank and knowledge on available occupations;
2. Unavailability of school-to-work transition programs and services at both secondary and postsecondary institutions; and
3. Lack of integration of school-based and work-based learning.
· The primary and secondary school curriculum places emphasis on general education at the expense of vocational technical education and entrepreneurship education, and yet only a limited proportion of the population benefits from tertiary education at the university, and vocational/technical colleges of higher learning.
· Vocational students are in a better position to undertake entrepreneurial activities for purposes of self-employment and thus, stimulate the economy. But lack of access to credit for small-scale businesses/enterprises poses a major constraint for potential entrepreneurs. Small scale entrepreneurs have difficulty obtaining credit primarily because they cannot meet requirements for collateral.
· The sector of the economy that offers opportunities for productive self-employment is agriculture and rural-based industries. The lack of access to land poses a problem for small business. Swazi Nation Land is communally owned and thus can not be used as collateral. Ownership of this land rests with the King, who holds it in trust for the Nation. In that case, there is no security of tenure. A policy to expand self-employment opportunities in the rural areas needs to be developed to overcome this constraint.
· Occupation and education linkages are fragmented, unstructured, uncoordinated, and informal. The purpose of such linkages is to enhance school performance and workforce preparation. For education to be relevant to the needs of individuals and society, small business development/enterprises and industry, and education should be strengthened. Appropriate models that link schooling and workforce preparation are non-existent, thus, a need exists to formulate them.
· The majority of female youth are still doing what has traditionally been considered "women's work" and this poses a major constraint particularly in respect of the fact that small entrepreneurs are primarily women. Women need to be fully informed about any and all jobs in which they may be interested including nontraditional careers to females.
· Lack of curriculum and structural articulation from secondary/high school pre-vocational/vocational education to tertiary/postsecondary vocational technical education programs breeds a mismatch. Much of the school and postsecondary/college curriculum and instructional delivery in pre-vocational/vocational education is disconnected and hence does not flow.
· Lack of curriculum and organizational/structural articulation from craft level tertiary institutions to technician level institutions poses major constraints to students/trainees wishing to acquire advanced vocational technical skills.
· The quality of vocational technical education programs is somewhat uneven and incoherent. There is lack of coherent programs as a standard. Swaziland needs to establish content and performance standards that benchmark what secondary and tertiary/postsecondary students/trainees should possess as they move from school, postsecondary to the workplace. These standards must be based on mastery (competency-based/performance-based) and the determination of which should reflect what prospective employers (business and industry) and small entrepreneurs consider relevant to Swaziland economic and social needs.
· Nonformal vocational education is not given the priority it deserves to redress the shortcomings of formal education/schooling as the latter remains out of touch with postschool realities. Formal and nonformal vocational technical education are neither complimentary nor articulated/linked.