Windhoek — The Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding that formalises the two institutions' partnership in the provision of Vocational Education and Training (VET).
Such an agreement underscores cooperation in a number of areas that include the development of VET trainer qualifications for the training of VET trainers, quality assurance and criteria for processes to be followed to successfully implement these qualifications.
Prior to the establishment of the NTA through the Vocational Education and Training Act (Act 1 of 2008), the Polytechnic, through an agreement with the Directorate of Vocational Education and Training (DVET) in the Ministry of Education was charged with the provision of VET Training-of-Trainer courses in 2000 (instructor training programmes).
A subsequent tender was awarded to the PoN after the establishment of the NTA, to conduct a pilot study for the training of VET instructors to work with Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) - in a no pass or fail but competent or not competent method of instruction - where the PoN collaborated with the universities of Newcastle, Australia and TAFE NSW Hunter Institute (an Australian registered training organisation) for the development and delivery of the pilot programme.
Extensive consultations during the 2009-10 period realised a curriculum which is based on unit standards that will now be used to train the instructors, while the PoN Senate approved the VET Level 5 NVQ, and in 2009 permission was obtained from the NTA to run the VET Level 4 NVQ in parallel with Level 5 as a pilot project.
The pilot programme had its first intake in June 2010 with a total of 18 trainees enrolled.
Implemented on the premise that the trainees were in possession of a trade/occupation qualification as well as a minimum of three years' experience in the occupation - the minimum standard for VET trainers as set by the NTA - it concluded with an 80% competency rate which also included practical attachments at vocational training institutions as well as an assessment of technical competencies.
Trainers were from different industries such as telecommunications and electronics, auto electronics, carpentry and joinery, hairdressing, aircraft engineering and special school technical trainers, to name just a few.
NTA's Chief Executive Officer Maria Nangolo-Rukoro indicated some sectors including industry looked down on Namibian trainers and instructors, and further raised their concerns about teachers being incompetent and unqualified to conduct quality training.
"As such, they feel that the quality of training offered at our public institutions, including our state-owned vocational training centres, does not meet the needs of industry."
However, she believes that particular notion is a perception rather than a fact and added that "delivery of passionate, qualified and competent instructors - effective in transferring skills to trainees - can assist in fighting perceptions and allow VET to take up its rightful place in a holistic education system."
Meanwhile, PoN's rector Dr Tjama Tjivikua reinforced his institution's desire for professional and career-oriented education and training, saying it ensured that on completion of studies, graduates would have acquired specific, career-focused competencies.
"The unique and added value of service learning as an effective educational approach and pedagogical tool is that students are actively engaged in the learning process, while immersed in the communities and thus do not only have an opportunity to explore connections between theory and practice, but also connect with communities," he said.
Ultimately, the current proposal will require PoN to entirely run the programme, undertake training of VET trainers on behalf of the VET market, while NTA will provide the funding to enable the training.
Furthermore, the PoN will conduct trainee recruitment and under the current understanding, they (trainees) would be required to meet PoN's admission requirements of 25 points in five Grade 12 subjects including an E in English, trade qualification and a minimum of three years' experience in their respective trades/occupational areas related to their qualifications.
These are requirements for the entry Level 4 qualification.
Currently, the Certificate in Vocational Education and Training, Higher Certificate in Vocational Education and Training, and the Diploma in Vocational and Education and Training Management are now institutional programes approved and recognized by the Polytechnic Senate and its Council for Higher Education.