Monday, January 2, 2017

Vocational Education and Training Development Symposium in Namibia

Group Photo of Symposium Delegates at College Hotel

Introduction
In the last week of August 2016, I attended a Vocational Education and Training Development Symposium at the Namibia University of Science and Technology in Windhoek, Namibia. The Symposium organised by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the University of Röstock, Germany was supported by the Volkswagen (VW) Foundation. The Symposium brought together representatives from 16 countries to establish networks for increased opportunities for research and collaboration between VET practitioners. The symposium was held under the theme “Current situation and development of further education research in Vocational Education and Training in Sub-Saharan Africa”. 

Objective of Symposium
The main objective of the Symposium was to develop a framework for the establishment of a training system for Vocational Education and Training (VET) at postgraduate level in Sub-Saharan African universities. Participants were drawn from various higher educational and Vocational Education and Training institutions, Government departments and regulatory institutions. 

Official Opening
The Symposium was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Professor Tjama Tjivikua. He noted that Namibia needed to take cognisance of the fact the role VET needs to play in Namibia to achieve Vision 2030, was dependent on the quality of systems, instructors and facilities. “Professional skills alone are not adequate to churn out well-trained artisans. There is a need to train instructors in Technical Education Didactics for the effective transfer of skills.” 

Prof. Friedhelm Eicker, University of Rostock and Prof. Bernd Lennartz, University of Siegen who were Chairpersons of the Symposium highlighted the background of the Symposium. They noted that TVET experts of various theoretical and practical fields and especially TVET junior scientists from South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia and other African states  find it difficult to analyse and reflect the existing situation and foreseeable developments of TVET in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, it is difficult to bring the Sub-Saharan achievements, the findings and the results into the international scientific discussions on TVET and to the TVET networks. The Symposium therefore offered a unique opportunity to participants from Sub-Saharan African countries and from other countries to initiate the discussion about TVET and the education and further education of the vocational educators. 

Ullrich Kinne, Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy in Namibia, underscored his country’s reputable vocational education system which he encouraged others to emulate. He emphasised the need to address challenges that hinder the growth of the sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as the lack of qualified staff  and the high number of dropouts. 

Keynote Presentations
Four (4) keynote presentations were made by eminent scholars and researchers. 
The symposium had parallel sessions held on 23rd and 24th August 2016. On 23rd August with a total of thirty papers presented at the parallel sessions with the following themes: 
  • “Vocational Education and Training – Basics for Teaching and Research in Vocational  Education and Training at Universities”.
  • Establishment of a VET-system with focus on further education – presentation of ideas on the motivation and establishment of a further education system, especially in universities in Sub-Sahara Africa
  • What are concepts or conditions of success for a networked VET learning and teaching (oriented on competence, working practice, flexible, etc.) and especially for a networked further education system in VET? 

Symposium Discussions


The discussions, the examples and the statements showed that it adopting cannot concepts of Vocational Education from Europe, the Anglo-American or the Asian education market was not a viable solution for African nations. It is also not productive to aim at a common African solution. Each African country has its own experience, ideas, possibilities and political agenda, what results in certain financial resources, administrative structures and pre-developed education frameworks. Zhao Zhiqun from China observed: “The regions must create individual strategies for TVET.”

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