The Dilemma Over TVET

The education and labor ministry officials have met to iron out the creases over the TVET program following education ministry’s plans to introduce TVET stream for class XI and XII

The education ministry’s plans to introduce Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) as the fourth stream for class XI and XII has apparently complicated the implementation of this program.

Up till now, the labor ministry has been spearheading the TVET program through various vocational and technical training institutes.

If the education ministry takes over or introduces TVET program on its own, there are possibilities of duplication, which may result in waste of resources.

Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said discussions are still going on as to who will take over the TVET program during the Friday Meet yesterday.

 “There will be duplication but to avoid the duplication yesterday afternoon a bureaucrat level meeting was held between the two ministries and eminent member of National Council (NC) Tashi Wangmo who is an expert in TVET was also invited to discuss which ministry will lead the frontline of TVET,” he said.

Lyonpo also said that whoever takes the frontline should support each other. “If the labor ministry takes over, we will support them and if we do then we expect the same support from them. If we take over, we expect to start the ambitious plan by 2020 to include TVET as fourth stream,” said the Education Minister.

Talking to Business Bhutan, Karma Dorji, Sr. Program Officer of TVET Professional Services Division of labor ministry, said if ministry of education offers similar courses and level that is offered in TVET institutes under labor and existing private training institute, then this will result in duplication and waste of resources as correctly pointed out by National Council. “There will be lots of challenges in terms of capacity, infrastructure, management and standards.”

However, he said duplication can be avoided if the education ministry intends to integrate vocational subjects in schools to promote and encourage youth to take up vocational courses while labor ministry focuses on further skilling and certification of courses.

“To avoid duplication and waste of resource, the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MoLHR) need to collaborate and carry out preliminary assessments to decide on the TVET stream and its modality to synchronize the TVET program for smooth pathways for students,” said Karma Dorji.

TVET sector has been recognized as a critical area to drive economic development through building human resource competence and it has potential to create jobs and skills.

Under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) support, the two ministries have agreed to introduce technical and vocational education in schools to generate interest of school children to take up TVET as a learning and career pathway.

The project also plans to introduce TVET as an optional subject in grade IX to X in seven pilot schools. Also, under the same project, MoLHR and MoE are working on TVET pathways to facilitate smooth transition from school to TVET institutes and higher studies.

There are already clear pathways created for TVET graduates to pursue diploma, degree and higher qualifications as per Bhutan Qualification Framework and Bhutan Vocational Qualification Framework. However, TVET graduates face challenges to pursue the pathways due to weak academic background since students with strong academic performance never enroll in the TVET sector.

“MoLHR has planned to introduce new Diploma courses in 12th Five Year Plan in order to address the above issue and to facilitate to realize the pathways for TVET graduates,” said Karma Dorji.

The labor ministry has also developed TVET Blue Print 2016-2026 to uplift the image and enhance quality and access of TVET courses.

As per TVET Sector Assessment (TVET Blueprint working paper) and tracer study conducted by MoLHR, the employment rate of TVET graduates is about 87.89%.

The total indicative budget outlay for TVET sector for 12th FYP is Nu. 2.104bn.

Karma Dorji, the Program Analyst/Project Manager (HELVETAS), Occupational Skill Development for Construction Sector, Department of Technical Education, MoLHR, said an alternative would be to look into promoting partnership with the industries and the MoLHR for effective training delivery and certification.

 “Public TVET institution can provide trainings in occupations which are not attractive for the private sector to take up. Those commercially viable courses can be outsourced to the private sector. At the same time public TVET institutions must also look into providing high-end or specialized courses for enhancing employability,” he said.

Currently, there are 114 TVET service providers in the country including eight institutes under MoLHR.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu

Pic courtesy: Asian Development Bank