Zim must remodel vocational training

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BY Farai Chigora
In this age of entrepreneurship for industrialisation, there is need to decolonise educational systems and curricula from being theoretically-centred to practical learning.

Educational institutions should exist as active hubs for innovation instead of being mere classrooms. This cuts across all levels of education from primary school to higher and tertiary education.

There is a huge cavity in the current operation and enrolment of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) where their potential has been ignored due to stereotyping and inferiority complex as perceived by our societies.

Communities should take a relook and open a new chapter as we head towards industrialisation through TVET education.

These institutions have for long been viewed as of low class.

Most developed nations, including China have included vocational training at early levels of their education systems.

Look at where they are today in terms of their gross national product and infrastructural development.

Silicon Valley in California, the Eiffel Tower in France are a brainchild of vocational education.

In this drive to appreciate supremacy of TVET, we first give thanks to government for its initiative and recognition of this cog of economic transformation and empowerment.

But more still needs to be done.

There is need to rewire systems, curriculums and infrastructure in TVET institutions as a form of rebranding.

These centres must become more attractive and acknowledged as educational systems of first choice in their enrolment rather than a buffer.

In terms of systems as aforementioned, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders should conceptualise and come up with working vocational training models that connect all stages of learning from primary to higher and tertiary learning.

This will help to demystify negative perceptions that the public has and cognitively engage with the learners as they climb up the ladder of education with an informed socialisation that is entrepreneurial and practical.

Learners must be indoctrinated to be producers and owners of business ideas that prepare them to be employers rather than earning a weekly or monthly pay cheque.

This is lacking in this Anglophonic way of education, which Zimbabwe inherited from colonial masters.

We need to nurture a generation of inventors who critically think for tangibility, not relying on theories and memorising ideas to earn certificates.

They say Rome was not built in a day.

Our vocational education ideologies and systems should be viewed as developmental, moving from the known to the unknown in a form of educational taxonomy.

That way, social stratification that has labelled TVET as for the less privileged, low-intellect and weak actors of society will be removed.

There is need for a 360-degree scrutiny and review of the present TVET curricula through various local and national organisations that are currently engaged in this drive.

These blueprints should move with contemporary innovations, where they match with global demands for new technologies, business systems and the going green concept.

It is now important to do practical education with beneficiation, producing ideas and objects that fit into the new global demands.

The curricula should encourage a learner-centred type of education both in content and instructors’ role in imparting knowledge.

This is where learners are given space to experiment and produce new ideas, concepts and objects for economic empowerment like what happens with the Montessori way of education. Learners will be happy to be engaged, rather than pursuing a system where the instructor is regarded as the only one with knowledge.

The world has changed in that perspective, let’s revamp our curricula.

Another dimension in rebranding TVET is that it must consider the needs of all the members of our communities.

We have different members of our communities who should equally enjoy benefits of innovative training from TVET.

TVET exist to promote economic empowerment for communities.

They should be designed in a way that considers the needs of gender equality, those with disabilities, youths and adults.

This should be supported by compatible and supportive infrastructure that encourages contemporary thinking, production of new knowledge and industrialisation.

More has to be done especially in having technologies that go beyond the Fourth Industrial Revolution in our TVET centres.

We are now in a technologically-and digitally-driven world where skills of instructors and learning methods should embrace technology.

  • Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance