Although many developing countries have committed resources to TVET and have made substantial progress, challenges still remain in most of the TVET systems.
In cultures where resources reside mainly with the heads of families, change takes time and TVET is not exempt from this. Centralization goes beyond family step be step through government. Almost everyone in the systems knows it has to change, but few are prepared to take the risk of doing so.
Challenges That Must Be Addressed
Here are some of the challenges that need to be addressed:
1. TVET does not respond to the demands of the market and the needs of industry. Many of those leading the TVET system look at industry not as partners but as source of funds. They have no desire to develop partnerships with industry beyond funding.
2. TVET does not promote the priorities of the Government especially its economic policy. TVET, being part for a long time of education, still sees itself as part of social policy not of economic so TVET managers are not even aware of the country’s economic priorities.
3. Most developing countries put less value to TVET than university or college tertiary education. Parents and the community as a whole look down on TVET so bright students often veer away from this and TVET became the dumping ground for those whose academic capacity is not up to the requirements of higher learning.
One high school offering TVET divided the students into the Science group and the TVET group based on average academic performance.
In another school, the division is by interest of the student, so students who want TVET enrol in Electronics or Automotive or Construction. However very few students opt for TVET especially among the female enrolees. Two or 3 girls in a school year is what TVET gets. This really affects the flow of bright technicians to industry.
4. Resources for TVET are very limited. Equipment from previous investments are left idle due to the expensive trading supplies, no capacity to repair the imported equipment, and few knowing how to use it. Some of this equipment has already become relics of previous industrial requirements.
Not much contribution from the private sector has come in to support TVET. The private sector would rather spend money to train their own workforce than to ask TVET institutions to do so given the poor quality of the course offerings.
5. Lack of transfer across streams in the education system. The idea of enabling students to move from one stream to another with ease so that they can see a better career path whichever entry they take is not getting much support in its enforcement. Each part of the education budget guards its own offering with very little regard for the students needs or demands. There is not much sharing among institutions or private sector training.
6. Poverty is still a deterrent. Many students leave school after primary or elementary or even secondary because they are expected to work and help with the family’s subsistence. There is no money to support their education unless an uncle finds scholarships for them.
I was told by a hotel staff in a developing country that his whole secondary school class in the village were not able to go College because they had no money. He was lucky after a year that his uncle found him a scholarship in a College owned by someone from their village.
7. Weak participation from other stakeholders. This largely results from the relevance of TVET programs and the lack of skills of TVET graduates in industry. If industry is strongly involved in TVET, chances are its graduates can easily find employment.
8. Lack of industry experience for many TVET teachers. TVET institutions cannot really hire trainers from industry as their fees are much higher. Often, TVET institutions have to hire graduates of the Government teacher training institution. In one country, the graduate of this type of training institution are sent to technical colleges each year regardless of the schools needs. These new teachers have few technical skills.
9. Lack of motivation for students to invest in TVET education which they know will not land them jobs. Whereas, TVET institutions offering courses relevant to the needs of the market are getting students working to support themselves in these courses.
This is true of Computer courses, Accounting, English and Hotel and Restaurant Management. These courses attract many students because industry wants them and many times, they are hired even without yet finishing the course. Students invest on courses that meet their needs.
Most TVET institutions in developing countries have difficulty attracting students. They have fewer enrolees in their regular programs but have to turn back students from these more popular courses.
This will change in time, but for so many young people the system has really let them down.