Ministry evaluates technical and vocational training development |19 August 2013
Technical and vocational education at secondary level has always been generally considered as the Achilles’ tendon or the weak point of the Ministry of Education, although technical subjects have continuously been taught in secondary schools. This is because the general feeling among the public has always been that the local education authorities place more emphasis on academic development.
With the aim of further developing technical education and meet the needs of the slow learning and more vulnerable students who run the risk of dropping school before secondary 5 (S5), and at the same time offering a fairer education system to the population, the Ministry of Education in 2009 decided to introduce the Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) programme for S4 and S5 students, with its implementation as of 2010.
TVET’s syllabus concentrates mainly on numeracy, literacy and skills development with Arithmetic, English and French taught at school three days of the week. The remaining two days are spent on practical attachments. Now that the programme, which is part of the ongoing education reform, has reached its third year, and with the first cohort of students graduating shortly, the Ministry of Education has felt it necessary to take time to evaluate its content and results, in order to design a more appropriate curriculum as from next year.
It is in this context that the Curriculum, Assessment and Teacher Support Division (CCATS) conducted a TVET evaluation workshop at the ministry’s headquarters at Mont Fleuri last week for representatives from secondary schools, post-secondary institutions, teachers and other education officials, in the presence of the principal secretary for Education, Merida Delcy.
The workshop provided those concerned with the opportunity to assess feedback on the first phase of TVET as provided by schools, parents, businesses which have provided apprentice attachments to students and the students themselves.
Statistics provided by the CCATS show that the programme has up to now recorded remarkable success. Of the 139 students enrolled in 2012, 91 have completed their courses, out of which 89 have been admitted for further training in post-secondary institutions and the two others have joined the world of work.
If academic ability has improved, a positive change of attitude has also been observed with for example improvement in punctuality and attendance. Students have also become more work-aware and more mature.
However, CCATS has said it is not yet time to blow the trumpet as the programme faces various difficulties. These include lack of teachers and teaching material and lack of proper monitoring.
With more support from their parents, students can also improve on their motivation level and task management.
The Ministry of Education wishes to address those challenges by recruiting part-time lecturers and tailoring the training more adequately according to the students’ interest.
The second cohort will also spend three days at the workplace instead of two.
Giving an overview of TVET, Selby Dora, the special advisor to the Minister for Education, said that as certain students do not adapt to the traditional teaching, TVET permits them to learn in a more suitable environment:
“TVET means moving away from offering education within the four walls of the classroom. As some students do not like the traditional or old fashioned way of teaching, special education away from the questionable framework of schools is needed. We have to relook at the secondary school structure and offer curriculum on the basis of diversity of needs. We must show students that they have value. So we have to change the school structure to give value to the students. The systematic dimension of the programme now needs to be consolidated and today’s workshop will permit us to reflect ahead”.
On her part, the coordinator of the TVET programme, Shilla Pool, has emphasised that TVET was necessary as a form of alternative education as all students are different.
“All students differ with their own needs, it is necessary to focus on individual requirements in order to improve the programme and also improve careers’ guidance in schools. Some students have difficulty to follow the IGCSE or DELF syllabus in secondary schools and they are usually the ones with most discipline problems. There are also many drop-out cases in S4 and S5. Now with TVET, those students are admitted to post-secondary courses. The technical education context has evolved with special projects adapted to individual contexts, especially in terms of practical projects where TVET students are now directly channeled to their relevant needs,” Mrs Pool said.
Last week’s workshop has helped the Ministry of Education in determining the TVET programme’s effectiveness, permitting to decide on its future implementation mechanism in terms of mode of training, training of teachers, time tabling, apprenticeship partnerships, students’ evaluation, etc. If properly implemented, TVET will go a long way in providing the solutions to Seychelles’ vocational and technical training dilemma.