Changing Values International



ICT for Vocational Training: Why not giving the youth the competencies they need?

Posteado por Elizabeth Rodas, Stijn van der Krogt - 0 Coments

Our fridge stopped working. No meat, milk and especially, no ice-cold water in 35 degrees. After asking our friends whom to call it took only 14 days or so to find that the mechanic we called could not find the missing piece. I have become my own auto mechanic by looking serious; taking out the boogies, clean them with any raw material and hoping to restart the car. It sometimes works….

Sounds like just an anecdote, but despite the seriously rising number of unemployed youth in developing countries, it is hard to find skilled and responsible carpenters, plumbers, secretaries, auto mechanics or someone to actually solve your regular computer problems. Some lessons I learned on the quality of vocational training and the use of ICT in particular.

When we visited vocational training institutes in Bolivia we found in Santa Cruz a centre with 3 old classrooms, 10 pentium-0 computers, 6 carpentry workbenches and 2 toilets. This was not the exception from what I have seen in countries such as Haiti, Kenya or Zambia. In general, public vocational training is lacking most of the basics to provide proper professional training. This starts with the lack of infrastructure, and goes for equipment, materials and especially the capacities of the teachers. No wonder that this will not provide a learning environment that can provide in top of the bill professionals.

Setting the right priorities!

Oruro, Bolivia. We recently organized a workshop to formulate a new program for vocational training institutions. As an exercise, I asked participants to allocate 10,000 bolivianos –money from their own pocket- to activities that will improve the quality of vocational training. Initially, they spend most of their money on infrastructure and equipment.

Yet, after a long conversation about what really contributes to quality of teaching and learning, people did come up with a much more balanced set of priorities. Continuous teacher training, development of more up-to-date materials and ICT moved up the priority ladder. According to international evaluations all activities that contribute to the quality of vocational training.

Towards competency-based training

The next challenge is to find ways to offer training that focuses on competences. Currently, vocational training is foremost based on teacher-centred transfer of knowledge and practices with out-dated tools.

Lusaka, Zambia. When looking at skills development, carpenters in Zambia learn how to use basic crafting tools, but are not able to learn how to design and built chairs that comply with modern tastes and quality standards. This, even though are hundreds of simple design tools downloadable from the Net. Even in ICT careers, students learn how to program in using out-dated software tools to develop databases and websites, but are not working with, much easier, web2.0 tools. 

The private sector needs young people that have practical knowledge of modern production technologies, marketing and ICT. Moreover, they need to have the right attitudes, such as teamwork, willingness to learn, responsibility and a sound work ethic.

This requires teachers to learn new teaching methods in which the student is the focus of teaching and learning. Examples of these methods include project-based learning, where students work on individual or groups assignments inside or outside the classroom. And even better, schoolwork complemented by practises in private companies. The teacher has to take on a new role as coach and supervisor. More easily said tan done, as both the teacher and student needs to be willing and able to take on these new roles. 

Using ICT to boost quality

Another challenge is to work with teaching materials that are adapted to the needs of your future job. ICT is one way to assist teachers in developing their own relevant teaching materials.

I have worked on several projects where teachers were trained to develop interactive presentations projected in the classroom (PowerPoint, j-click, slide share, you tube, etc.). Good to know that you can built your own interactive white board for under 100 euro and that you can use the latest Samsung Beam with a built-in projector for 400 Euros (I use it and it works!).

Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ICT also assists students inside or outside the classroom to practise with state of the art production techniques using computer simulations. This sounds as very advanced, but I have seen this working in the Netherlands. In 2012 we visited the car mechanics course at a vocational training centre with a representative of the Departmental Government of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

At the start of the class, the trainer divided the students in two groups. During class, a part of the students studied the design and functioning of a motor engine on the computers lined up in the workshop. The other students tested a real engine in the workshop. The test results were entered into simulation model on the computer. This way they combine practise and theory in the same class. During class, the trainer walked around and provided advice and guidance where needed.

Based on this experience, the Departmental Government decided to work with us on a -localised- ICT and training program for trainers of vocational training centres in Bolivia. We will share our adventure in a future blog..


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