Education sector bills passed –
US$10M approved for TVET system
Kaieteur News
July 23, 2004

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Parliament unanimously passed the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Bill 2004 and the National Accreditation Council Bill 2004, yesterday, presented by Minister of Education, Dr Henry Jeffrey.

The Bills were supported by Opposition GAP/WPA Members of Parliament, Sheila Holder and Shirley Melville.

ROAR’s representative Ravi Dev was absent as were the members of the main opposition PNCR who continued their policy of selective representation at Parliament.

Dr Jeffery announced that his Ministry has negotiated a TVET loan for some US$10M with the Caribbean Development Bank.

“The general objective of the loan is to assess the needs of and aid the restructuring and refurbishment of all levels of the TVET system,” he said.

The project will have the following components: the carrying out of essential repairs and extension to the TVET infrastructure; staff development; the provision of computer and other modern electronic communication training facilities; curriculum review and upgrading; equipping the engineering and other laboratories; the provision of tools and equipment; and the upgrading of the technical teacher training department at the Government Technical Institute.

Dr Jeffrey pointed out that government has recognised that the TVET system requires much more than US$10M even when coupled with the country’s resources.

He disclosed that government is in negotiation with the Japanese government for another US$10M, and the IDB has also shown some interest in the sector.

The Minister noted that the TVET Bill has been in gestation for 15 years and has gone through many changes in administrative theory.

He said the institutional arrangements suggested in the Bill initially sought to create a Council for TVET that would set and monitor standards and control the technical and vocational delivery institutions.

Under the present arrangements, the day-to-day delivery of the technical and vocational education will be outside the ambit of the proposed Council.

The aims of the Council at the policy level are: the promotion and sustenance of Guyana’s economic development programme by facilitating the provision of a cadre of fully trained technologists, technicians and craftsmen; the intensification of manpower development through apprenticeship schemes and skills upgrading training programmes; the promotion of equality of opportunity in technical and vocational education to empower women, minorities, the physically challenged and others; and the development of institutional activities to provide the physical and human capital necessary for the efficient and effective delivery of technical and vocational education at all levels.

The functions of the Council are: to advise the Minister on the measures required to ensure a comprehensive system of technical and vocational education, and training that is suited to the developmental needs of Guyana; establish, develop and monitor schemes for the training of craft persons, technicians and engineers needed to sustain and enhance economic growth; develop a national system of competency based modularised training and initiate its implementation; expand the scope of industrial training within the industry; and monitor and evaluate the delivery of all programmes.

The Council will have no less than nine and no more than 15 persons appointed by the Minister from among persons nominated by stakeholder organisations, including the Amerindian community.

The daily activities of the Council will be the responsibility of a Director. The Bill also makes provision for the establishment of regional TVET Councils.

Dr Jeffrey said as economic, social and technological changes gather pace, the education policy must ensure that Guyana’s students develop knowledge, skills and lifelong learning attitudes that will help them to live meaningful lives in a rapidly changing environment.

He noted that the demand today is for employees who have been exposed to a broad range of subjects.

“While there is general agreement that the basic subjects of the traditional curriculum are essential, the feeling is that the concept of a general education must now be broadened to include technical and vocational subjects,” he said.

He stated that with these concerns in mind, the Education Ministry’s 2003-2007 strategic plan envisages the establishment of the Council and the complete revamping of the technical and vocational education sector in collaboration with stakeholders.

He noted that pre-vocational education has been part of Guyana’s general education delivered at the primary and secondary levels for some time.

He recalled that the Ministry, earlier this year, introduced the Basic Competency Certificate Programme in keeping with the tradition and requirements of further integration.

The Minister stated that there is no doubt that the TVET system now requires restructuring and a significant infusion of resources.

An Upper Corentyne Training Centre will be opened in January 2005.

There is already the Government Technical Institute, Berbice Technical Institute and an Essequibo Technical Institute.

Speaking on the Accreditation Bill, Dr Jeffrey said the establishment of an accreditation body is long overdue.

Accreditation is a system for recognising institutions and professional programmes affiliated with these institutions for a level of performance, integrity and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public.

“In almost every area of study, nationals and non-nationals are arriving each day and allowed to operate with qualifications of which we know very little,” Dr Jeffrey said. “Private institutions are mushrooming all over the country with no set standards to follow.”

The Minister stated that many training programmes are conducted in the public and private sectors which need accreditation to give them value.

Dr Jeffrey said the Bill seeks to establish A National Accreditation Council and its daily operations will be the responsibility of a Secretariat headed by an executive director.

The representatives on the Council will be drawn from the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions, University of Guyana, National Council for Technical and Vocational Education, Guyana Bar Association, Guyana Medical Council, Guyana Association of Professional Engineers, Private Sector Commission, Ministry of Labour, Public Service Ministry, Ministry of Education and the Labour sector.

Among other things, the functions of the sector are to: set standards for qualifications in tertiary education and training institutions; establish accreditation criteria and procedures for various levels of certification; ascertain the equivalency of national and international certifications; protect the interest of students; and promote the free movement of skills and knowledge within CARICOM.