As a curriculum study student, I have analysed the revised broad curriculum of Namibia, which was implemented in 2015. Despite the challenges, we face daily, and the fact that many loose ends need tying up, there is still hope.
The curriculum was tailor-made to bring about changes we envisage daily in our lives. Despite this anticipation, the loopholes remain but there are opportunities to overcome them.
The Namibian curriculum has undergone about three major reforms independence. The 2015 implemented revision of the curriculum culminates from the 2011 national conference on education. Amongst the identified areas is the need to re-introduce technical and vocational subjects in schools. It is dubbed re-introduction, as these subjects existed before; they were phased out by the second reform around 2000, due to the high demand for teaching and learning equipment and facilities required for these subjects.
The re-introduction of vocational and technical subjects was aimed to increase the relevance of schooling by imparting individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary for making individuals a productive member of society. Many academics will agree that not all students are meant to become academics; thus, pre- and vocational subjects respond to students’ individuality.
Other aims were to: reduce unemployment as a result of the provision of employable skills, especially to the youth and those who cannot succeed academically; increase economic development because it improves the quality and skill level of the working population; reduce poverty by providing access to higher-income occupations, and to transform the attitude of people to favour occupations with occupational prospects for future. Altogether, the reintroduction could bring about the much-needed change, where graduates are equipped with vocational skills to become job creators and not job seekers.
However, with the reintroduction of vocational education, not all challenges were dealt with and addressed yet. Thus, the cry of my fellow educators, who see the curriculum as rushed into implementation without piloting, could be buttressed through this. We now have schools offering technical subjects, but they do not have the necessary skills and equipment – let alone special classrooms needed.
Other challenges are: limited technical institutions to accommodate trainees; there is a lack of facilities and materials to train the students; there is an inadequacy of technical teachers or facilitators in the country; there is also difficulty in career progression, and employees are concerned with poor quality training and training environment; society is enslaved in a negative perception regarding technical and vocational subjects. In addition to the challenges is the fact that many career fairs advertise more of science-related fields other than vocational subjects and technical ones.
To address the challenges abutting vocational and technical training in Namibia, we need a new approach. The government and all financial institutions should consider reviewing their capital borrowing terms. A collateral requirement makes it hard for a fresh vocational trainee to acquire a loan to establish a company that can produce products with the acquired skill.
All market role players, education stakeholders and government planners should establish a new approach to make vocational education a reality. Countries like China have their economies driven by vocational trainees, and their innovation and production level is, thus, high. Government should also avail resources like timber to carpenters to produce furniture that can be sold at home and abroad.
To whip up interest among students and the public towards technical education, technical education should be progressively free. To address the lack of expert trainers, schools offering pre-vocational subjects should be given graduate trainees from VTCs to become teachers. This will help alleviate the lack of educators in public schools. They can then be given a bridging course that will give them the necessary teaching skills that will enable them to teach learners in public schools.
To address the market mismatch, market research should be carried out so that changes can be identified and addressed. The market should drive the training of trainees so that we may alleviate trainees becoming job seekers.
More should also be done about the societal mindset; those in the lead should advertise all careers equally, though salary might differ, even a trash picker plays an important role in life. We all need one another. Vocational and technical careers are labour bound and require handwork; it should not be restricted to the academically gifted, thus lowering entry-level, and offering them a language for communication as a bridging course might do well more.
* Salomo Ndeyamunye yaNdeshimona is a master’s of curriculum student at the Midland State University of Zimbabwe: email@example.com.
2020-04-03 10:06:59 | 4 months ago