Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Globalisation and TVET in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.

Implications of Globalisation for TVET Curriculum Design

What are the implications of globalisation for TVET Curriculum design?

Firstly, TVET Curriculum design should incorporate interdependence in today’s global arena. From the definition of globalisation above which states that globalisation is growing interdependence curriculum design in TVET must have the interdependence of subject areas fused in it. For example, curricula in Information Technology should include aspects of entrepreneurship, communication skills and management. Interdependence also covers the area of interdependence of nations in knowledge and skills. As globalisation spreads Curriculum designers need to realise that skills and knowledge that they may lack could be acquired using the Internet. The Internet brings global knowledge close to people wherever they are found.

Secondly, globalisation requires the development of high level skills in TVET trainees. This entails that the curriculum should not just concentrate on traditional skills but also develop high level technical skills for global economic competitiveness. “Although the primary objective of TVET in Africa is to help alleviate poverty through the acquisition of employable skills, a strategic approach to skills development on the content cannot ignore the effects of globalisation. In a globalising world economy, the acquisition of “industrial” skills is also important” (African Union, 2007:15).

Thirdly, globalisation implies that TVET Curriculum design should be flexible. Designers of TVET curriculum need to bear in mind that trainees in TVET have different backgrounds socially, economically, technologically and also in terms of knowledge and skills. TVET curriculum design should have greater emphasis on recognition of prior learning. This is to ensure that trainees’ are not made to take subjects or modules whose knowledge or competencies that they already possess.

Fourthly, cross-cutting issues such as HIV & AIDS, gender, disability and the environment need to be part and parcel of TVET curriculum design in an increasingly global world. HIV and AIDS for example is a reality globally that has a negative impact on the developing human resource base of many nations. A number of nations are losing youths that would otherwise contribute to economic development if they were not claimed by the AIDS pandemic. TVET curricula apart from bio-medical and scientific programmes should address HIV & AIDS issues. It should also integrate issues of disability. In Zambia, Information and Communication Technology curricula for the Visually Impaired was developed in 2004. The issue of gender and development is also key in TVET Curriculum design. The very design of curriculum should avoid gender stereotyping. Some vocational training programmes like dressmaking, hairdressing, and cookery are associated with girls – very often girls who are less gifted academically. In Benin, for example, such girls are derogatorily referred to as following the “c” option of the secondary school curriculum: la serie “c” – couture, coiffure, cuisine!” (African Union, 2007:34).

Globalisation is also impacting TVET curriculum design in issues of the environment. Sustainable development in TVET is becoming a key topic at many international TVET fora. Recently UNESCO hosted a Virtual Conference on Education for Sustainable Development. The conference sought to provide participants with a better understanding of how SD can be addressed through TVET in different contexts. It also sought to bring out an outcome of criteria and principles that described sustainable performance of TVET institutions.

Fifthly, globalisation implies that TVET Curriculum design should incorporate ICT enabled education. E-learning is becoming an important way for many to acquire knowledge and skills within TVET institutions and at the workplace. E-learning has also become a major theme in TVET for a in Africa. E-learning Africa has recently held two conferences i.e. in Ethiopia in 2006 and in Kenya this year. Plans are already in full swing for another conference in May 2008 in Ghana (details are on The conference this year attracted over 1200 participants with 80% coming from Africa. UNESCO has taken advantage to have a one day African summit on the first day for TVET Policy makers and practitioners to discuss issues of ICT and e-learning.

Sixthly, globalisation has implications for TVET curriculum design in that the curricula needs to address the flooding of markets in Africa with cheap products. For instance, an African TVET graduate who was taught Carpentry and Joinery would face a great challenge in selling their wooden furniture when it competes with international products made from plastic. The curriculum should thus include aspects of how students can manufacture furniture from bamboo and other products. It should also emphasize aspects of business management, business opportunity identification and marketing strategies in order to survive in a globally competitive market.

(Presented at a Commonwealth Association for Polytechnics in Africa Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in December 2007).

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