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Opinion - How can the TVET sector help Namibia to industrialise?

2021-10-05  Staff Reporter

Opinion - How can the TVET sector help Namibia to industrialise?
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The primary purpose of this article is to describe how the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector can help Namibia to industrialise within the global context. 

No one doubts that Namibia’s TVET sector can produce quality skilled human resources with the right attitudes and values required to grow and develop the country’s economy. 

However, in its current form, Namibia’s TVET sector is incapable of producing the desired quality skilled human resources due to a copious number of problems the sector faces. 

For example, stigma, attrition and poor teaching are among the key challenges undermining the TVET sector’s positive effect on Namibia’s industrialisation agenda. 

In my opinion, for the TVET sector to be a vital vehicle for Namibia’s socio-economic growth and development, the following three changes should first and urgently happen:

 

Change the philosophy of TVET

The current skills, knowledge and values framework implemented in the TVET sector were founded on 17th century aspirations. Today, all Namibian national plans such as Vision 2030, NPD5 and Harambee Prosperity Plan 2 advocate for a 21st century skills framework which promotes problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and so on. 

Evidently, the present TVET sector developed on an old development agenda is misaligned to the knowledge economy narrative expressed in Namibia’s development plans. Namibia has an ambitious agenda of promoting artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, renewable energy, blue economy, innovation, research and all other drivers of Industrial Revolution 4.0. 

On the contrary, the TVET sector in Namibia remains unresponsive to the imperatives of IR4.0. Both the curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment practices remain rooted in traditional and obsolete TVET beliefs. 

For instance, the main challenge the TVET sector in Namibia faces is the refusal of most TVET practitioners to innovate. Global experience shows that for innovation to thrive, TVET institutions in Namibia will have to change their current narrow focus on how to teach, promote learning and assess skills, knowledge and values of the ‘consumers’ of their training. 

For example, the current training regime in the TVET sector that allows trainees to complete most tasks with their eyes closed discourages innovation.

 

Improve TVET management 

Innovation does not only require resourcing, it also requires effective management and leadership models that are critical in driving innovation culture in a sustainable manner. 

Unfortunately, numerous past and recent reports indicate that some TVET colleges are experiencing governance and management problems, especially regarding financial management. Financial accountability in the TVET sector requires serious considerations as a way of ensuring that funds allocated to the sector and to specific colleges are used efficiently and effectively. 

Therefore, to be sources of industrialisation, most TVET colleges will need assistance regarding how to implement appropriate financial controls and accountability measures. 

TVET funding 

By international standards, Namibia has a disproportionally large group of higher education students enrolled in relation to TVET students. While Namibia intends to develop a broad middle class, which should rely on middle-level skills, the current funding system does not meet the expected labour market skills demands in the country. 

Therefore, it is safe to state that the present investment pattern that spends more funds on higher education than on TVET college enrolments is counter-productive to the economic growth and skills demands of Namibia. 

Undoubtedly, the current investment model continues to feed misplaced socio-economic demands. A decision should also be made to increase investment in the TVET sector as a way of growing student enrolments across regions, which currently remains unequal, resulting in the inequitable distribution of access. 

Namibia requires a TVET sector that is biased towards innovation and research, without which the country’s goal of a knowledge-based economy will for the next 300 years remain a mere illusion.


2021-10-05  Staff Reporter

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