• July 3rd, 2020

Stereotypes debase vocational career options 

WINDHOEK- Higher education minister Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi has underlined the fact that stereotypes and social stigma continue to unfairly isolate and to debase technical and vocational career options.  She made the remarks on Wednesday when she launched the second season of the “Live Your Passion” campaign, an initiative that is aimed at clarifying the negative perceptions the general public has about Technical Vocational Education and Training in Namibia (TVET).

The minister said this unfair bias often results in learners who do not excel in academic areas; or who have little interest in them; meeting with disappointment, or disapproval.  

“Young people are differently talented and not all are academically inclined.  On the contrary, what many enjoy doing most and often excel in, is working with their hands. Such learners are well suited to take up career options in the TVET domain,” she maintained. 

Kandjii-Murangi said the key TVET advocacy message that needs to be conveyed, therefore, is to say that, if a young person has an affinity for woodwork, or food preparation, or any other trade for that matter; nothing should keep him or her from developing the skills to pursue this calling. 

The minister said it is hence important that all stakeholders in the TVET sector join forces in breaking down these negative perceptions and stigma barriers.  

She however, said this is not an easy task, adding many local communities, especially those in rural Namibia, continue to find it difficult to access reliable and trustworthy information pertaining to technical and vocational career options.  

She pointed out career guidance is non-existent in some schools, whereas a lack of internet access in rural areas exacerbates the situation even further by denying children access to information about TVET career options, which scope continues to expand; and today includes a myriad of options, outside that of what is considered traditional artisan options. 

As stakeholders in TVET, she said there is a need to join forces in raising the public profile and attractiveness of these career options among learners and families, including through the media, and inform them on the possibilities for progression, employment and self-fulfillment that TVET can offer. 

Kandjii-Murangi called on parents to support their children to pursue their own dreams and she noted too often, parents push their children to over-achieve at school in subjects and areas in which they have no interest. 

She said parents do this because they believe that a university education is the best education. 

She feels some parents believe that careers such as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer and scientist are good careers and that careers such as hairdresser, fitter, welder, plumber and chef are not good.  

“Consider this, you might boast as a parent that your child is qualifying as a doctor soon.  Which is good, if indeed it is also the dream of your child to become a doctor.  But, what if her or his dream was to become a chef and she had indeed demonstrated her talent to become a successful chef? Whose dream is important, your child’s dream, or your dream for your child?” she queried.

Namibia Training Authority (NTA) Chief Executive Officer Jerry Beukes echoed her sediment that a key challenge confronting Namibia’s TVET sector is that it’s being perceived as inferior. 

“As a society, we continue to place a high value on professional jobs, whereas stigma unfairly isolates technical and vocational career options and children continue to be influenced that such careers are low-status, low-paying and dirty jobs, which generally offer little prospects for career advancement and growth,” Beukes reacted.  

Furthermore, she maintained the negative perceptions that unfairly stereotype TVET career paths will not be eradicated over the short-to medium term.  

She said making career choices may well be more difficult today than at any time in history, for three reasons. Firstly, that there is infinitely more to choose from; secondly, career definitions are more fluid and changing; and thirdly the levels of expectation are rising.

She revealed the higher education ministry and the NTA, in their shared effort to counter these perceptions, will for the foreseeable future have to implement innovative plans to make an impact in this exercise.  

Therefore, she noted for their advocacy efforts to be successful, it is important that all stakeholders continue to assist in sensitising learners, teachers, parents, industry and the nation at large, about TVET programmes and career options; and in promoting the TVET sector as attractive, rewarding, labour-market relevant, equitable, efficient, sustainable and of high quality.  


Albertina Nakale
2019-07-05 08:59:39 | 11 months ago

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