The nation is absorbed in despair following the announcement this week of the Grade 12 ordinary level results, which showed that only 39 percent of 22,091 full-time candidates have qualified for tertiary education at recognised institutions. While this result is, in terms of the NDP5 target of 40 percent, a decent return, it is heartbreaking to see 61 percent of these young candidates joining armies of other unemployed youths on the streets. It wasn’t clear if the 39 percent includes candidates who qualified for vocational training institutions, such as NTA’s VTCs and the highly-rated Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT). Be that as it may, we are concerned about the stigma perpetually attached to vocational training by many Namibians. The elevation, in perception, of academic or university education as the ultimate meaning of being educated holds this country back – and in a big way. Our country’s overreliance on academic education as a panacea to our development is self-defeating. Industrialisation remains top of our development agenda, and it’s not accountants and medical doctors who will build skyscrapers and heavy machine factories for manufacturing. Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a critical element in supporting and accelerating development, inclusive growth and poverty reduction through economic transformation and job creation. All these ambitions are outlined in the country’s development blueprints, including President Hage Geingob’s signature Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP). Why then is it that vocational training is looked down upon, and classified as some sort of a second-fiddle programme designed to accommodate academic rejects? There’s ample evidence that graduates of technical schools in Namibia prefer to set up their own companies, some very humble, instead of knocking on doors for jobs. Just this week, New Era published a story of a youth in Omuthiya, who has mastered carpentry and has been making a decent living from it. Chester, as he is known in Omuthiya and surrounding areas, is on record as saying he is not looking for employment – but rather clients. The 3rd UNESCO Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Congress of 2012 stated that developing TVET should be a top priority in the quest to build greener societies and tackle global unemployment, and the Shanghai Consensus argues strongly for VET to be considered in the post-2015 international agenda. Namibia can therefore not afford to be left behind by the TVET bus. We must, in parallel with other efforts, deal with the perceptions that vocational training is for failures and that somehow being a student at Unam is more prestigious than being enrolled at, for the sake of this argument, Okakarara VTC. In one of the largest economies in the world, Germany, vocational training is highly rated. This is home to some of the world’s most sought-after products such as high-end car brands like BMW, Mercedes and VW, amongst others. Yet for a country that imports even toothpicks, we seem to have a negative outlook on vocational education. Changing this attitude is a prerequisite to us realising our development goals.
2018-01-12 10:06:33 8 months ago