The Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi has rubbished public perceptions that Vocational Education and Training is regarded by the government as being of secondary importance in the national education programme.
Namwandi said vocational education and training is actually the most suitable form of education capable of meeting the demands of national economic growth and globalisation.
Stressing that the country’s institutions can deliver, he said: “We must remain confident in the potential of our people and in the potential of our Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions, including the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), to deliver programmes responsive to the new technological, economic and demographic challenges.”
The Education Minister was speaking on Thursday (03/10/13) at the launch of the Namibian Chapter of the Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR) project, where he called on all stakeholders in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sectors to enhance collaboration with the ministry and the NTA.
BEAR aims to implement sectoral programmes in selected countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region through public and private partnerships and improve the knowledge base and capacity of Technical and Vocational Education and Training systems to develop evidence-based training policies.
But Namwandi stressed: “The time has come for us to progress beyond merely discussing increased access to education, advocating increased funding and demanding elevated inputs. The time has come to implement the recommendations of the numerous studies we carried out in the last decade. Our focus should now be on outcomes, effectiveness and generating more value from the resources available for Vocational Education and Training.”
Emphasising that one of the many obstacles Namibia faces to stimulate economic growth is a scarcity of skilled labour, he said: “The establishment of a sustainable skills base is and will remain a huge challenge in the foreseeable future. The challenge is exacerbated by a lack of human capital development opportunities and the mismatch between the supply and demand sides of our labour market. Then, of course, there is the challenge to continuously ensure that education and training we provide is current, demand driven and relevant as well as forward looking to ensure skills for emerging markets.”
Namwandi said there is an urgent need to increase the middle and high-level skills of the Namibian people and at the same time a need to expand access to basic skills training. “Simultaneously we have to provide remedial programmes for the large number of learners who leave school and who do not have the necessary qualifications to enter the world of work. We face the daunting task of achieving the objectives of Technical and Vocational Education and Training through equitable, relevant and good quality education and training,” the minister stressed.
However, he said government is acutely aware of these challenges and has steadfastly reinforced the expansion, diversification and modernisation of vocational education and training. He added: “My ministry acknowledges and supports the key role that Technical and Vocational Education and Training play in providing the skills for a modernised economy, while promoting social inclusion and addressing the high levels of youth unemployment in the country.”
Skills development is a key component of an integrated employment generation and poverty alleviation strategy, he emphasised. “Therefore, our macro national development strategy, Vision 2030, assigns a high premium to the development and implementation of targeted programmes to support the development of local skills as a tool for individual empowerment and national economic development,” he said.
Namibia requires a solid and sustainable skills base to transform it into an industrialised and knowledge-based economy, he said. However, he added, meeting the skills challenges of today as well as those of the future requires new ways of collaboration among all of the relevant players involved in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and increased and intensified collaboration at national, regional and trans-national levels.
Under a cooperation agreement, BEAR chapters have been established to support five member states in SADC. The project is ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Namibia, with a common goal of identifying, designing and implementing specific country objectives aimed at improving the responsiveness and relevance of the local Technical and Vocational Education and Training systems to individual and labour market needs.
The Namibian government through the NTA entered into a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Republic of Korea in 2011, which led to the establishment of the innovative educational BEAR project. UNESCO together with the Korean government jointly donated five laptops to a value of N$30 000 to NTA to be used by the BEAR project to develop curricula.
(Courtesy of New Era )