NATCOM – St. Kitts, Sep 6, 2013: Chairperson of the TVET Council Mr. Clyde Christopher has dubbed the Ministry of Education’s partnership with UNESCO as highly beneficial, in light of the UNESCO officials’ enthusiasm to advance activities leading to the drafting of a National Policy on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Mr. Christopher, in addressing stakeholders at the opening ceremony of a TVET validation workshop, stated that the value of any policy rests in its ability to satisfy needs.
“At the end of the day the TVET policy must not only suit the needs of the Ministry of Education but rather it must suit the needs of you the employers. We have to train persons so that you can at least gain the benefit of their training.”
UNESCO official Mr. Keith Holmes agreed that employers should be given a voice in determining the way forward in TVET development. He said that in consideration of rapid demographic and labour market changes as well as economic challenges across the globe, there is a strong demand for acquiring as well as upgrading skills. He added that TVET needs to be linked to the national vision for sustainable development.
In providing general support on policy development and review, Mr. Holmes said that UNESCO was pleased to share its findings gathered during the policy review phase which produced a 166-page report.
Validation workshop participants were asked to address key areas of that report, suggest concerns and make recommendations as well as agree on the purposes and processes for the development of a federal TVET policy.
“It will be a very readable document, a short, concise document which will capture the state of the art thinking…that will speak to the needs of many stakeholders and will engage learners, workers, teachers and employers in a united and collective vision for greater cooperation in TVET and skills in the context of overall education reform and development,” Mr. Holmes stated.
Minister of Education, Hon. Nigel Carty, reminded participants of achievements along the way in the evolution of TVET. The Minister indicated that in 2011 a roadmap for the development of the TVET sector was developed as well as a short to medium term plan which identified priority areas for TVET development over the next three to four years. A TVET secretariat which is now the working arm of the TVET Council was also established.
Additionally, the Ministry appointed a director of TVET Development and counterpart in Nevis as well and provided assessor training to facilitate the implementation of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification Programme (CVQ).
The Minister of Education highlighted areas of focus including raising the protocol, management and accountability of TVET; improving the climate of private sector partnership and participation; aligning the policy with regional and international imperatives; improving the governance of the system as well as restoring the credentials of TVET programmes.
“We feel there is a lot of work to be done in helping people to recognize that TVET is not for drop outs or non-academic people only. It is for people who want to be engineers and entrepreneurs and skilled people and so forth.” said Minister Carty.
UNESCO representatives, Education Specialist Dr. Lucy Steward, and Mr. Keith Holmes who assisted in the reviewing, drafting and finalising the national policy for TVET, noted that by enhancing the quality of TVET the Government’s goal of developing the skills and qualifications of persons in the Federation would be met.
Dr. Stewart, who focused on Education and Policy Development within the context of National and Regional Development, explains:
“If we want to look at TVET for development, we have to look at the quality of programmes that lead to certification,” she stated. “One of the things in the whole policy review and improving the status of TVET we would have to look at is how portable these qualifications are and how they can be improved and enhanced, so that in terms of certification we are looking at the quality.”
Other key officials at the event who have been heavily engaged in the process were Secretary General of UNESCO Mr. Antonio Maynard; Permanent Secretary of Education Mrs. Ionie Liburd Willett; Director of The National Skills Training Programme, Mrs. June James; Director of Project Strong, Mr. Dale Phipps; Director of the Curriculum Development Unit, Dr. Eva Bowrin and TVET Director, Mr. Fitzroy Wilkin.