|Promotion and Reform of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Africa (Uganda National Commission for UNESCO, 2001, 98 p.)|
The paper examined the issues, obstacles, challenges to and opportunities of TVET including planning and management issues that need to be taken into account if TVET is to achieve its intended objectives. It underscored the need for urgent strategies to meet the rapidly increasing numbers of the un-employed youth in Africa that has led to the creation of a new generation of social rebels and delinquents for African nations.
In this paper, TVET was operationally defined as any production, or human resource training aimed at making individuals productive, innovative and self-creative in preparation for living and gainful employment.
The paper also observed that the target population for TVET is quite wide. It includes both youth and adults groups:
· Youth in schools.
· Youth out of school including dropouts.
· Adults in subsistence occupations.
· Adults in self employment and
· Special constituencies (women, elderly, individuals with disabilities, etc).
The keynote address aptly asserted that, We are what we are because of our history. This history is reflected by:
· Changes in Economy.
· Skills to earn a living through training programmes.
· Lawyers, and doctors training years ago were organized out of the formal education system.
It informed participants that TVET was not new in Africa and Uganda in particular. Long before colonization, Africa had its ways of harnessing the environment through appropriate technologies. Western training emerged in Africa after the Industrial Revolution giving birth to formal technical education systems. This led to the syndrome of technological transfer; the feeling that the best education is Western education and the quickest way to develop was perceived as the transfer of western technologies to LDCs irrespective of the context issues.
Various Western countries exhibited their development models in Africa - one of these is formal TVET. These contributed to high un-employment through displacement of village labour intensive industries by Western led capital-intensive industries.
It was underscored that the effects of un-employment are worsened by lack of a social system/a safety net for the poor unemployed. This has made these youth to adopt negative coping mechanisms such as petty criminal acts.
Furthermore, Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) - especially retrenchment exercises have left many school leavers/graduates un-employed. There are no appropriate modern safety nets to address the effects of SAPs. The major dilemma is the wrong kind of education that does not prepare youth for work in their context.
The paper highlighted the need for policy to restructure and re-organize the traditional sector of the economy. It observed that TVET bridges the gap between higher education and secondary education. It is supposed to respond to the need of making the youth more self-supportive and productive. But the current attitudes towards TVET have to be unlearned before this can become a reality.
It was pointed out that despite the rhetoric about TVET, its aspects have not been made mandatory for each candidate in the formal and informal sector. The paper therefore underscored the need to re-think and re-focus TVET by policy makers.
TVET programmes were challenged for not being dynamic. Participants were called upon to spearhead efforts to make TVET adaptive to globalisation, information and communication revolution, increased mobility of labour and capital, emerging market economy and the knowledge based society.
It was observed that efforts to carry out curriculum reform and policy change have been fragmented and less coordinated. This has sustained the poor attitudes and practices to TVET.
It was noted that the traditional formal models of TVET have fallen short of bringing skills for all. They have promoted social exclusion of all people including the poor and marginalized.
The participants were called upon to develop TVET models that suit the African context including the values and culture in totality. However, they were cautioned that this should not compromise some global values of punctuality and adding value, efficiency and competition and positive work ethic.
In this paper, it was noted that the existing linkages between industrialization and TVET education are weak, fragmented and less coordinated. It was noted that effective coordination of the educational needs through curriculum and pedagogy to meet demands of the century is yet to receive full policy and political will to commit adequate resources.
Enhancing the status of TVET has been affected by limited interest in manual work, lack of work ethic, making the TVET programmes less attractive to the target groups. This is contrary to the European perspective of technical education that promotes TVET as one of the key cornerstones for development and employment generation. Attitudes to TVET in Africa must therefore change. Africa must learn and adjust to changes taking place the world over. The paper unraveled that attitudes of African employers whose recruitment methods are more focused on higher qualifications rather than skills and innovation is a major obstacle to TVET. Other issues raised in the keynote address included the following:
· Proper planning and coordination in selection of content.
· Inflexibility in programming, design and assessment.
· Diversity of funding, delivery mechanisms and service providers.
· Use of expensive and sophisticated equipment that are hard to maintain and bear cost implications.
· Poor infrastructure facilities - roads and housing units.
· Absence of career guidance that would take into account the market demands, learners requirements and services.
· Quality assurance, certification, valid assessment methods/quality of staff training should be addressed.
· Encourage more research to enhance better understanding of issues and pragmatic solutions to TVET.
· Partnership between government employers, trade unions and society TVET can be enhanced by the creativity of sound and medium scale enterprise.
· Selected planning and management training that has a positive correlation with local manpower needs.
· Problems of education in Africa are diverse - they need a holistic but systematic approach.
· Adequate administration and coordination of TVET.
· Liaison mechanisms to be put in place.
· Staffing and staff development for this sector.
· Career dynamism/progression.
· Inter-ministerial coordination (Human Resource Development Center - example of Jamaica).
· Location of TVET institutions - concentrated in urban areas, majority of the population is in rural area.
Focus on Uganda
The paper lamented that 90% of what is offered in secondary schools is very theoretical and it does not offer employable skills. The teaching about Shakespeare in love and Achinwa Achebe - Things Fall Apart does not offer trainees with the skills demanded on the labour market.
It was noted that the existing education machinery has not innovated pragmatic ways to develop and harness locally conceptualized technologies. This has turned us into consistent followers but not leaders of events".
The paper decried not only the limited scope of TVET but also the low innovation. Many viable sectors like hairdressing have not yet been targeted. The fragmented approaches to TVET and weaknesses in coordination were spelt out in the paper.
Uganda was urged to come up with TVET achievable goals and objectives that would create an impetus for its improvement and development. The paper underscored the need to avoid short-term emergency solutions instead of deliberate long-term structural transformation.
It was further articulated that teacher education in TVET has a challenge of making the training relevant and scientifically sound, technologically and contextually appropriate.
It was noted with concern that donors are dealing with small groups of elite who are over-whelmed with gravity issues. There is need for serious and focussed dialogue between donors and those getting aid.
The paper emphasized the need for tracer studies for education programmes to find out whether assistance went to the targeted groups. It is one thing to give the money and another to get results. Donors were called upon to be pro-active and to understand the mentality of the small groups of the elite. Strong dialogue, justification and follow-up by donors should be mandatory to ensure programme success.
TVET issues and their contexts are complex. They vary from country to country. Solutions should be country specific. There is need to promote policies that will reform TVET in all its aspects. Careful planning and clear vision rather than responding to situations/emergency planning should be the way forward.
Some Questions and Issues Raised by the Keynote Address:-
· Can education alone solve the problem of un-employment?
· What is the effect of un-employment on the demand for education?
· What is the work ethic in Africa - can the time laxity in Africa enable us to develop?
· Have the role models/mirrors of our society stimulated changes in this work ethic?. We have good trees but we import chairs because we lack the work ethic to produce good chairs.
· We must understand employment and the values needed to develop it before we can achieve it. Self-reliance with commitment and discipline must be inculcated or cultivated.
· How can an individual know that s/he has wrong education?
· What approach should we apply to empower our people? Visionary or piece meal?
· Are we a coherent society?