(EMU) – St. Kitts: “The relevance of the paradigm shift in the importance of “Skills Education” becomes clear when its role in National Development is given prominence,” said Chairman of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council Mr. Clyde Christopher at a ceremony to present the Draft National TVET Policy to Minister of Education and Information Hon. Nigel Carty.
Principal TVET Officer Fitzroy Wilkin explained that the policy was prepared by a writing team after wide consultation with employers and various stakeholders and with technical assistance from UNESCO.
“The Policy focuses on TVET as critical for ensuring that all citizens are equipped with the knowledge, competencies and values needed for self-fulfillment, for entrepreneurship and employment, Mr. Wilkin said. “Attention is given to the need to integrate TVET in general Education so that all students would acquire skills such as critical-thinking, problem-solving and employability skills.”
It was revealed that some of the cross-cutting themes are the articulation of programmes so that students and trainees can move easily from one level to higher levels of training, the inclusion of ICT in TVET and research and data-informed decision-making.
Apart from the thrust to ensure that persons receiving technical and vocational training are employable, Mr. Wilkin stated that the Policy addresses issues of diversity, inclusiveness and social cohesion and stresses the importance of providing formal and non-formal TVET programmes that meet a variety of needs including vulnerable and marginalized groups.
Minister of Education and Information Hon. Nigel Carty in commending the TVET Council for its presentation of the much needed draft policy, said that from the Ministry’s standpoint certain imperatives underscored the guidelines for preparing the document.
Minister Carty emphasized several priorities that could not be compromised including a framework and guidelines for the governance and management of TVET and increasing access to and participation in formal and non-formal TVET programmes.
Minister Carty added that the policy must provide a strategy to re-focus TVET to emphasize its centrality in the education sector; changes that would be necessary in curricula and programmes and the adequate preparation of teachers.
Noting that currently TVET is funded mainly by the Government, Minster Carty highlighted the need forstrategicpartnerships including that of UNESCO which provided solid technical support in the preparation of the Policy.
Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Antonio Maynard stated that the TVET policy, which will be the result of any additional adjustments to the draft, will be utilized as a model for other policies in the region. Mr. Maynard said therefore that the National Commission, Regional UNESCO Cluster Office in Jamaica and UNESCO generally are cognizant of the impact of its assistance on the Federation and wider region and is pleased to have utilized its resources meaningfully.
Special commendation went to Dr. Lucy Stewart of UNESCO who was actively involved on the ground in assisting with the consolidation of submissions and views from the various stakeholders during the process undertaken largely by the council and secretariat.
UNESCO Cluster Office Specialist Robert Parua stated that “One of the key points that we emphasize is that the policy must be home grown. It must be developed on the basis of broad based consultation with all concerned stakeholders to ensure its effectiveness.”
Mr. Parua said UNESCO salutes the Federation’s foresight in coordinating fragmented arrangements and aligning efforts with the Federation’s sustainable development placing TVET in a wider development context.
“The rethinking, remarketing and repackaging of the TVET programme is all about expanding options, it is about inclusion; new and improved opportunities; and it also about seeing strengths and positives where we did not allow ourselves to see them before,” Prime Minister Douglas said.
The Head of State expressed gratitude to Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova whom he had met with the discuss the advancement of TVET in the Federation and whose cooperation and efficiency he attributes UNESCO’s will to assist and therefore the outstanding progress in drafting the TVET policy.
Once approved, the Policy will be reviewed in 2018 with a mid-term review in 2016. The TVET Council would be charged with the responsibility to work with various partners to develop annual action plans. Annual reports would be prepared to inform all stakeholders about progress in the implementation of actions.