|Establishing Partnership in Technical and Vocational Education - Co-operation between Educational Institutions and Enterprises in Technical and Vocational Education - A Seminar for Key Personnel from Africa and Asia - Berlin, Germany, 02-12 May 1995 (UNEVOC, 1995, 168 p.)|
|2 Co-operation between Educational Institutions and Enterprises in Technical and Vocational Education: African Experiences|
by L. B. LUKHELE
Leonard B. LUKHELE, born in 1934, has served for over twenty years as the Principal of the Swaziland College of Technology. He is now retired and contracted by the National Examination Council. He holds a M.A. in Education and Educational Administration at the University of Eastern Michigan.
The policy of education in Swaziland has always conceived the need for the educational institutions to co-operate with the world of work. If one looks back in the 1940's one realises that all schools both primary and secondary (there were not tertiary institutions then) had to provide arts and crafts, building, carpentry, agriculture and home economics. This emphasis was eroded in the 1950's in favour of theory subjects. However, this deviation was corrected in the late 1960's.
(2) Pre-Vocational Programmes
The objective of primary schools in Swaziland is to provide basic literacy with a mixed bag of work orientated attitudes. It is not to provide the youth with skills that can be employed directly in the world of work. As a concrete example of this statement primary schools provide practical arts which is a compound or a mixture of practical subjects, including those related to handwork, business environment, agriculture, home science etc.
The objective of secondary schools, at a higher level, is to provide a more diversified curriculum with a deliberate purpose to introduce to the students subjects leading to specific technologies and vocations. These subjects include technical studies, business studies, agriculture and home economics. Lately this approach has taken an interesting twist to a new pre-vocational concept. This concept advocates the need to train students in employable skills even before reaching the tertiary education and training level. This concept was originally an ambitious effort to respond to the problem of drop-outs.
As much as this pre-vocational concept seemed plausible it was found to be expensive and difficult to implement. Debate with the African Development Bank has since led to the scaling down of the practical content to a level thought to be economical - 80 % theory and 20 % practice.
(3) Technical and Vocational Programmes
Technical and vocational programmes, in this paper, refer to the programmes that are offered at certificate and diploma level in the tertiary schools. The tertiary training institutions cover a variety of programmes that prepare the students for a variety of the world of work. Among others these include engineering programmes (automotive, mechanical electrical etc.), civil and building programmes (building, carpentry, plumbing, water technology, highway technology, etc.), business programmes (accounting, office technology, hospitality etc., agriculture programmes (education, extension service, home economics etc.).
It is conceivable that training in each of the above mentioned programmes should be accompanied by industrial attachment in a qualified industry under a qualified supervisor. While this is the general expectation, not all of the programmes are covered by law in this regard. The programmes covered by law are those that are provided in the apprenticeship provisions. By law apprenticeship should be five years, unless the apprentice displays competencies that, in the opinion of the supervisor, warrant remission. Apprenticeship may take the form of attachment to the industry over the entire five years. It may take the form of the combination of the institutional training and industrial attachment. With technicians the institutional training is normally three years and the industrial attachment two years. With the craft students the institutional training is two years and the industrial attachment is three years.
The system of technical and vocational training in Swaziland recognises that, immediately after independence (this is still the case today), there were many workers that joined the ranks of industries, directly from schools. These joined industries as labourers without saleable skills. As time went on these labourers gained some skills in the jobs they performed from day to day. In order to accommodate these skilled labourers in terms of remuneration grades they are expected to under go trade testing conducted by the training institutions. Workers who have had on the job training (as is it usually termed) for at least three years and have been assessed by their immediate supervisors as competent at that level are allowed to take the elementary test. The intermediate test can be taken after another two years of competent service. The final, and the highest, test is taken after yet another two years of competent service.
(4) Need for Co-operation with Industry
For purposes of this paper the rationale for needed cooperation between training institutions and industries have been condensed and classified into three arguments namely:
· preparation of an effective technical/vocational curriculum,
· introduction of the students into the real world of work, and
· matching of the training skills with the job opportunities existing in the industries.
An effective curriculum in a technical/vocational school should adequately cover both theory and practice. The theory should be able to support the practice and the practice should be able to support the theory. In order to achieve this desired balance it is critical for whoever is designing the curriculum to look into both the world of training institutions and the world of work. What is even more critical is to reconcile the training objectives of the training institutions, which tend to be more educational and humanitarian, with the objectives of the industries, which tend to be more training and profit orientated. This does not only require the curricular expertise of the curriculum developer but also demands personality chemistry of both camps.
Secondly, the students need to be introduced into the industry of their choice smoothly and in a way that will make them fit and productive in industries. This demands the attachment of the students in industry for a reasonable length of time. This has several advantages if it is well done. The students gain in-depth understanding of what is expected of them as prospective employees of industry. The students attain that live practice that effectively supports the theory that they learned in the classroom situation. The students learn how they should relate with other people in the world of work - equals, seniors and juniors. There are many more advantages.
Thirdly, there is a need for a constant and deliberate effort to study the trends of employment opportunities that exist in industry. This constant study would be helpful in guiding training institutions in what programmes they should mount from time to time. One needs to emphasise the constant relationship of the training institutions and the industries, so far as job opportunities are concerned, because jobs can be available today but institutions train for tomorrow. Where jobs are said to be available for tomorrow there is no guarantee that these jobs will occur in the manner and shape for which the institutions will prepare its graduates. This should not be expected in our fast changing technological era. Hence, close co-operation between training institutions and industry seems nearer to the right answer.
Equally, industry should make efforts to relate to the training institutions so that it becomes aware of the manner in which it can benefit from the training institutions in terms of programmes and in terms of recruitment of personnel.
(5) Instruments of Co-operation
Technical and vocational education and training is under the Ministry of Education whilst apprenticeship and trade testing are administered by the Directorate of the Industrial Training Centre, under the Ministry of Labour and Public Service.
The Head of the Directorate of The Industrial Training Centre is the Director. He operates his mandate within the policy guidelines of a Board. The composition of the Board is modelled along the tripartite ILO model. It consists of the representatives of the Swaziland Government, including the training institutions, the representatives of the Federation of Swaziland Employers, and representatives of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions. Through this body, the general policy of technical and vocational training that will meet the needs of the industries is formulated.
At a lower level there are Trades Advisory Panels responsible to the above mentioned Board. The Trades Advisory Panels consist of representatives of the main industries and representatives of training institutions. The Industries Training law of 1981 provides for only four Trades Advisory Panels, namely an Engineering Advisory Panel, a Civil and Building Advisory Panel, a Commercial Advisory Panel and a Hotel and Catering Advisory Panel. The major objectives of the Trades Advisory Panels are to advise the training institutions on the nuts and bolts of the trades needed by industries. The advice is mainly on curriculum issues and job opportunities in the industries. They play a very active role in Trade Testing, but a low profile in apprenticeship.
In conclusion, it can be said that the instrument of cooperation between training institutions and industries in Swaziland exists. However, in practice, there are numerous problems that need constant attention. These problems and possible solutions have been listed separately from this paper.