Dual TVET education for sub-Sahara Africa
Namibia’s University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with the German University of Rostock this week opened a 3-day symposium to improve higher education, mainly vocational education training, or so-called VET.
The symposium looked at ‘Current Situation and Development of Further Education and Research in Vocational Education and Training in Sub-Saharan Africa”. The event, attended by 16 representative countries and ended on Thursday.
Speaking at the opening, NUST Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tjama Tjivikua, encouraged the meeting to draw up methods of implementing future education systems and to improve vocational training. “Across the African continent primary and higher education are highlighted however Technical and Vocational training gets left behind. The conference comes at an opportune time as the government introduced a VET levy, to enhance vocational training development.” he said.
The second keynote speaker, Prof. Bernard Lennartz from the University of Rostock described the symposium as an ideal learning platform stating that it is advancing the national VET system through a critical review of the success and shortcomings of the earlier VET Net project, offering new ideas VET Net activities.
Mr Ulrich Kinne, the deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy remarked “Vocational Education and Training is usually considered as one of the key success factors of Germany’s economic strength and social stability.” He further said that despite this there are still some struggles in the VET system such as improving transition from (compulsory) general education to VET and higher education, a lack of qualified VET teachers and reducing the number of dropouts from VET.
He added that in Africa challenges faced with VET are the synchronization of VET skills with industry needs, as well as the development of curricula for VET trainers and teachers. Prof. Dr. Peliwe Lolwana reiterated the concerns of Kinne stating that in sub-Saharan Africa, most children drop out of school between the ages of eight and ten. “Providing TVET widely and strongly has to be seen as a social justice issue, as good TVET systems level the playing field for many and provide opportunities that are lacking in many societies.” she said.
Another speaker, Prof Mosses Oketch also touched on key issues of TVET in sub-Saharan Africa in his cross country comparison of TVET systems, policies and youth employment. Oketch noted “the African continent has a persistently youthful population. This means that skills must be given to this youth. Youth face a labour market that remains dominated by subsistence agriculture and later transition from this into vulnerable employment and joblessness” he said.
He said that the conundrum of TVET is that it is the most inconsistent and controversial strand of the education adding that there is a stigma attached to it as most African countries have failed in combining skills with theoretical knowledge.
“If we are able to make a requisite that good theoretical knowledge should be accompanied by skills and training, negative perceptions will be eliminated, we need to ask ourselves what is the pedagogical design that Africa needs.” he posed.