Guyana is expected to see a decrease in unemployment with more students being able to access training in technical and vocational studies across the country.
With the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Enhancement of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme nearing completion, Guyana is poised to see a reduction in 2% points in unemployment over the next 5 years, according to CDB Social Section Division Portfolio Manager Dr Idamay Denny.
The programme, geared towards improving the quality and effectiveness of TVET education in Guyana, cost some US$9.6 million, with 18% funding or US$7.5 million coming from the regional bank. The programme has been successful in building two new technical schools, equipped with state-of-the-art furnishings and training of over 125 instructors and 25 teachers. The programme was also able to provide equipment for the existing technical institutes and provide an overall upliftment of the educational sub-sector, with the adoption of a TVET strategic plan and regional standards for key occupational activities as well as the development of a teacher training programme, a competency framework, a TVET electronic database and a comprehensive maintenance plan for facilities.
The loan agreement, which dates back to December 2008, received its first disbursement on June 15, 2010, after it was signed on April 27, 2009 and the cconditions precedents met on May 20, 2010. The expected final (CDB) disbursement is scheduled for December 21, 2014, with the estimated actual completion coinciding with this date. The expected implementation period turned out to be 72 months, 40 months beyond the planned finish which was due to several factors, including government administrative delays and an additional 18 months due to procurement of additional equipment and services. The scope of the infrastructure work by government and private contractors saw some challenges with the provision of land, construction of the two schools by private contractors, improvements to access road and bridge in Region 3, and the procurement of tools, workshop equipment and learning materials.
An initial 400 students from regions 3 and 5 have had access to TVET in these regions since 2012, while trainees have had the opportunity to acquire vocational skills, thus enhancing their employability. Job attachments/internships have begun to expose trainees to the world of work and enhance their chances of finding permanent employment. The improvements in equipment and teacher training are expected to enhance the quality of programme offerings, resulting in enhanced student performance and institutional strengthening, which will lead to substantial improvements in the governance of the educational sub-sector, according to Denny. The alignment of qualifications with those of the wider region will facilitate the free movement of skilled or work ready labour, meaning that little or no on the job training is required, thus saving the employment industry both time and money, the doctor said. This, she used, to underscore an indirect goal of the programme of linking industry to commerce.
The rationale for the programme, according to Denny, was the loss of TVET teaching capacity as a result of attrition, mainly through migration, inadequate facilities and equipment, obsolete curricula and pedagogical approaches, which restrict the country’s ability to meet the demand for appropriately trained manpower in the workforce.
The modern and fully equipped technical institutes in regions 3 and 5, which had been identified as zones for industrial development, form the basis for the institutional framework development of the TVET sub-sector, Denny declared. She pointed to indirect goals of the programme over the next 5 years, among which were a decrease in unemployment levels by 2 percentage points by 2015, pass rates at GTEE increased from 58% to 70%, 95% student graduation rate for students in regions 3 and 5, 60% of all teachers in the TVET system trained in pedagogy and management/administration and a 50% increase in females undertaking programmes in non-traditional areas.
At the conclusion of the presentations, participants were tasked with examining and evaluating the implementation of the programme, the governance structure for TVET, the adequacy/ambitiousness of the log frame, the project start-up, and unforeseen circumstances and determine mechanisms for adjustments. They further evaluated the strategies and methodoligies and identified which ones work, assessed the impact and sustainability of outcome and identified the challenges and issues they need to avoid in the future. The bank plans to use the feedback to enhance the design and implementation of future projects and encouraged the frank perspectives of the participants.
The feature address was delivered by Patrick Chinedu, Assistant Chief Education Officer, facilitated by Dr Denny, and M Stephen Lawrence, Operations Officer (Civil Engineer) Social Sector Division.
Denny, who gave an overview of the project, also highlighted the expected implementation and outcomes of the project when it was first envisaged whilst Lawrence presented the actual implementation and outcomes. The participants included members of the Programme Implementation Unit, administrators and staff of the new schools and representatives from the Ministries of Education and Finance.
Administrator of the Leonora Technical Institute at Groenveldt, Leonora, WCD, Ceceila Chung told Stabroek News that the school started operations on January 23, 2012, enrolled the maximum capacity of 200 and produced 141 graduates. It offers Level One competency based programmes that last one year in: welding, carpentry, metalwork engineering, agricultral mehanics, data operation and general office administration. It has recently introduced a new 4-month programme for bobcat operators, with 16 having completed it and awaiting a practical test to be administered. Registration is underway for the new academic year starting at the end of August.
The other institute located in Park, Mahaicony, opened its doors on February 27, 2012 and is administered by Collis Thomas. Thomas said the school sufered a significant dropout after it enrolled 220 students, with only 79 graduating. He did not give a reason for the significant rate of student abandonment. This institution varies from its Leonora counterpart in the number of courses offered with an additional two: motor vehicle engineering systems and plumbing. It does not offer the agricultural mechanics course.