Vocational Education: A key to poverty alleviation

The solution lies in the introduction of vocational education at a large-scale level to reach out to as many students as possible after they finish their school/college.

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Vocational Education: A key to poverty alleviation
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The tenth plan of Nepal in its overriding objective of development considers poverty alleviation efforts of immense importance. Without vocational education administered to all without exception, Nepal will not attain the long-cherished objective of development.

More specifically, the workforce in their advanced age must get trained in higher level skills through vocational education. Along with the tremendous growth of higher educational institutions since the restoration of multiparty democracy (1990), there has also been a steady growth in the number of unemployed youths in our country. Job vacancies are limited whereas job seekers — both young men and women are unlimited. Job seekers outnumber the available job vacancies.

The reasons behind the out-migration of the Nepalese youth, especially to Gulf countries and other destinations in the world.

Consequently, there is a perpetual tension and frustration among our youths who remain unemployed for years to face uncertainty in their life and the mode of livelihood. The reasons behind the out-migration of the Nepalese youth, especially to Gulf countries and other destinations in the world. With ever increasing unemployment, the problem of poverty has grown out to assume acute proportion demanding an immediate solution. The solution lies in the introduction of vocational education at a large-scale level to reach out to as many students as possible after they finish their school/college.

Instead of waiting for white collar jobs in government agencies, these students after getting trained in vocational education can become self-starter to build up their own career in order to be self-dependent, self-reliant and self-sufficient. The objective of the New Education Plan (quality not quantity) 2028 BS has also been the same. Unfortunately, the application and implication of the said plan were not understood correctly and it was abandoned after a preliminary experiment here and there with the touch of the vocational scheme. It proved to be an exotic model supported by our donors and failed.

However, along with the objective of higher level educational products, purposeful diversion towards the quality of education from quantity-based literacy is the need of the present society.

One of the goals and targets of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is to achieve universal primary education. The PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) of the tenth plan has also envisioned some reform agenda such as free education up to tenth grade for oppressed, backward and below poverty line students, providing education in mother languages up to the primary level, regularize fee structure in private schools and providing basic facilities in private schools to students from those communities. These attempts are simply to create the conducive atmosphere of educational attainment at the lower level of schooling.

However, along with the objective of higher level educational products, purposeful diversion towards the quality of education from quantity-based literacy is the need of the present society. Purely theoretical education which stayed in classrooms for fairly a long period of time without much change in the curricula does not help much in developing the practical employable skills among the students. Except for a few academically oriented students who join the higher education in science and humanities stream, such education does not benefit the vast majority of students who desperately look for out-door on-the-field training programs. They are in search of subjects full of practical utilities and demonstrative practical exercises. They happen to be the real workforce of the country standing on the ground demanding jobs of all sorts at all the levels. Lower grades below ‘B plus’ at secondary and higher secondary level examinations bear testimony to this fact.

John Dewey in America during the early part of the last century realized the lacuna of purely theoretical education and started mixing practical subjects with theoretical ones in the curriculum he devised himself for greatly diversified school education. He introduced such subjects in classrooms as hairdressing, soap-making besides tailoring, tin smithy, carpentry, blacksmithy and thus he made teaching-learning activity quite interesting and reduced the numbers of failures. Though Dewey was later accused of turning American education into soft pedagogy, he perhaps led a pioneering movement in the right direction toward achieving the aim of all vocational American education at the secondary level.

In our country Nepal too, all education commissions have received the recommendations for setting up vocational education and training units at secondary level education. Multipurpose secondary schools were set up during the late sixties and early seventies. But, lack of trained teachers to teach different vocational disciplines along with not having appropriate tools, implements and raw materials failed the project and, therefore, the scheme was abandoned. The acute scale of unemployment prevailing in the country once again forces us to think about introducing vocational education at school education at the length and breadth of the country.

The number of vocational subjects in general schools should be increased. The existing programs of CTEVT (Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training) and other vocational training institutes should be strengthened further by supplying with adequate resources so that more number of students enroll themselves in diverse vocational courses all across the country. Specific knowledge and guided skills in polytechnics and micro-entrepreneurship are to be imparted to such students once they join the vocational courses.

The role of community-based F.M. radios such as Madan Pokhara and Dhankuta is very helpful for the enhanced support to a range of vocational programs being run in all the five provinces. Nepal being the agriculture country, all education commissions have accepted the need for teaching diverse agricultural subjects to students. This is why such courses are being introduced in rural areas of Nepal so that after completing the vocational education in agriculture students can open shop and farms of their own, start production and grow in their self-dependence, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance during the process.

It is need of the hour that the concerned authority must review, assess and reform the existing curriculum to incorporate vocational education at all level. With the pace of time or science and technology, one has to adjust oneself because only the fittest one survives in the race. Before policymakers go for introducing vocational education, they must look into questions like what is the demand of the society and what has been going in the supply side of our education? Vocation oriented education alone can mitigate the present ills associated with general education. The demand for the present Nepalese society is to impart quality education where the educated unemployed are far and few in numbers.

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