Namibia has seven public VTCs. There are no VTCs in southern Namibia, a situation which has over the years forced those interested in vocational education to relocate to Windhoek.
The existing VTCs are Eenhana Vocational Training Centre (Ohangwena), Nakayale Vocational Training Centre (Omusati), Okakarara Vocational Training Centre (Otjozondjupa), Rundu Vocational Training Centre (Kavango), Valombola Vocational Training Centre (Oshana), Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (Khomas) and Zambezi Vocational Training Centre (Zambezi).
He said it is time the government paid more attention to vocational education and also urge school curriculum developers to incorporate vocational education into the secondary school curricula.
“We need to identify learner talent at an early age, hence, I feel learners must be given options to move into vocational fields from secondary school already so that they can be nurtured properly instead of waiting for them to matriculate,” he said. Nguarambuka lamented that many young people are languishing in the streets despite being gifted when it comes to vocational education because they could not pass in the mainstream education.
He further motivated that the establishment of VTCs in all regions would reduce urbanisation and subsequently ease congestion in the capital, Windhoek.
His call comes at a time when the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation is in the process of implementing sweeping changes to the country’s vocational training sector – a process which could see a Malaysian private university entering the country assured of red carpet treatment, which entails a guaranteed yearly income of N$39 million in tuition fees, land to build a campus, exemptions from customs duty on educational items supplied and the luxury of having the ministry facilitating visa applications of international staff employed by the university. Critics question the proposed move while others are wary of the decision to partner with a private university instead of strengthening the existing vocational institutions in the country.
The mooted partnership between the higher education ministry and Limkokwing University is expected to address challenges identified in the TVET sector and will lead to a transformed TVET system, including a transformed Namibia Training Authority.
A highly sensitive ministerial document obtained by this publication also indicates that proposed agreement will ensure transfer of knowledge and skills to strengthen and transform the NTA to make it industry tuned. To hasten this process, CETE experts will work parallel with the CEO of NTA.
“The CETE project will result into a transformed NTA after five years. A model centre for TVET implementation and coordination; a one-stop shop for TVET quality curricula development and review, articulation industry research and standards enforcement,” reads the document.
Vision 2030 anticipates the transformation of the Namibian economy into an industrialised and knowledge-based economy.
But despite that vocational education continues to play second fiddle to the mainstream education. Many students still view vocational education as a field only for those who are not very gifted academically.
Moreover it challenges the country to implement an efficient and effective Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system that is able to equip the youth with the necessary skills required by the labour market. The NTA is tasked with the responsibility of arranging an efficient, effective and sustainable Vocational Education and Training (VET) system aligned with the current and future skills needs of the labour market.
Skilled labour has been identified as a major obstacle to business development and growth for small, medium and large firms in Namibia. On its website, Namibia Training Authority states that Namibia currently faces a potential risk of being dominated in the global and regional economic environments as it currently faces a high unemployment rate.
“From this, an initial observation is made into the severity of the current Namibian economic state, but above that, the importance of the development and maintenance of an efficient VET regime to unlock a trained, skilled, efficient, and qualified workforce that lies therein,” it said.
Meanwhile, Nampa reported that the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation is in the Kunene Region to look into possibilities of setting up a vocational training centre in the region.
Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi said the Harambee Prosperity Plan requires Namibia to work on increasing vocational training because there is a shortage of technical skills in the country.
The plan, launched by President Hage Geingob in April this year, is Government’s action plan towards prosperity for all.
It, among others, stipulates that Government will refurbish an existing building in the Kunene Region before the end of the year to be used as a VTC.
During the minister’s interaction with members of the community in Opuwo this week, a variety of possible places to be refurbished were mentioned. Tjakazapi Mbunguha suggested that the ministry should consult the agriculture ministry for its centre at Otjisokotjongava outside Opuwo because it is currently underutilised.
His motivation was that it is outside town and students will focus on their training rather than other things such as alcohol abuse, which is considered to be a big problem in the region. Mutuurua Kakuva from Otuvero village proposed that some old buildings at Orumana could be used for the centre.
However, the Ministry of Works and Transport’s head in the Kunene Region, Joshua Rukoro, said given the timeframe in which the ministry wants to set up a VTC, it should rather acquire a piece of land and construct a centre. “It will not be easy to negotiate with other existing institutions for their infrastructure. It may take us another two decades to have this dream realised should we take the route of negotiation,” Rukoro warned.
Another issue of concern raised with Kandjii-Murangi was who would be eligible for vocational training. The minister responded that there will be two streams of training: formal and informal. “The formal stream will cater for those who are directly from school, while the second stream will recognise prior learning or experience,” she explained.
Higher Education Ministry Deputy Permanent Secretary, Dr Raimo Naanda, who accompanied the minister, said the ministry is considering flexible training approaches, whereby students’ intellectual strengths will determine how fast or slow they finish their studies.
-Additional reporting by Nampa