Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — On Thursday (March 19) the Ministry of Education held a sensitization workshop to design, develop and pilot a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for St. Kitts and Nevis. It marked another milestone in the implementing of the National Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Ionie Liburd-Willett, stated that the workshop comes at an opportune time “as we continue to put in place measures and systems for the continued development and strengthening of education and training in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
She explained that with help from UNESCO in 2013, the Ministry was able to conduct a comprehensive review of TVET. The findings of that review were published (by UNESCO) in a report entitled, “TVET Policy Review St. Kitts and Nevis”.
The findings also formed the basis for the preparation of the TVET Policy which was launched in December 2013. Mrs. Willett noted that because there is a policy available, “it is imperative that all stakeholders work together on its implementation in order to strengthen TVET in the Federation.” She added that the consultation is one activity that will help in the efforts.
The Permanent Secretary informed that the TVET policy review identified gaps in the offerings of TVET programmes and a need for discussions to mend them.
“While some fragmentation is inevitable, as we cater for a variety of needs, we need to work towards a seamless education and training system so that there is articulation of programs in order to enable learners to move more easily from one level to another.”
Mrs. Willett stated that this is particularly important for several reasons.
“We need to provide opportunities for our citizens to achieve self fulfilment and to participate in lifelong learning activities,” she said. “Additionally, we know from reports received by our business and industry partners that there is a need for graduates with higher level skills to meet the demands of an ever changing labour market. The design and development of the NQF will certainly help us with quality assurance and determining equivalence of qualifications obtained through formal and non formal education and training.”
Chief Consultant Dr. Lucy Steward stated that this is just an introductory workshop as there will be need for continuous dialogue according to the needs of the framework. These include conducting preparatory work for the NQF, collecting information on existing programmes and how credits are awarded and under certification, the acceptance of certification, that is, “whether it has local currency, regional currency.”
“Those would be some of the things we would need in the preparatory work for the design, development and implementation and integrated, internationally comparable credit and standards based NQF. So, while the NQF will be for use locally, it needs to be able to stand up to external scrutiny. So that somebody coming from outside would be able to see how their qualifications can fit within the framework,” Dr. Steward said.
Workshop participants included officials from universities and other training institutions.
Technical assistance for this project is being provided by the European Union.