Mapping Skills Development and Lifelong Learning Pathways in The Pacific Island States
Pathways to Empowerment: Building Capacity for Quality Higher Education and TVET in Pacific Island Countries
1 August - 30 November 2017 | Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea
The roles of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the Pacific are the key to fostering skills development among youth, promoting their employability and improving the quality of life for themselves and their families (UNESCO, 2015). TVET programmes are offered through formal and less formal TVET institutions, and evidently, enrolment in these programmes are male-dominated. Arguably, TVET, as part of lifelong learning (LLL), is important in promoting vocational competencies and in offering second chance education. However, the un-unified nature of the TVET framework and lifelong learning (LLL) in the formal system causes some concerns, which necessitate a review in the certification/ accreditation system. Efforts to address this issue will contribute to a harmonised, appropriate, and contextualised approach for countries in the Pacific region in general and the Pacific Island countries in particular.
Within the framework of UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and funded by the Malaysia Funds-in-Trust (MFIT), a four-month study is conducted on the Mapping Skills Development and Lifelong Learning Pathways in The Pacific Island States along case Studies in Fiji, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. It was undertaken to provide a set of strategies and policy recommendations to map TVET, LLL, and higher education to enhance capacity building for national and regional development. Findings from fieldwork studies resulted from interviews and focus group discussions, as well as secondary sources of information in these three countries have recommended two sets of policy recommendations focusing on four intertwined issues of great relevance for capacity building in the Pacific countries, namely, (1) the un-unified nature of TVET programmes and frameworks, (2) the expansion of access to multiple pathways and future direction of LLL, (3) the need for appropriate alignment of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to the Pacific Qualifications Framework (PQF) and vice-versa, and (4) the involvement of higher education institutions in contributing to capacity building among TVET providers/stakeholders.
There were 23 institutional affiliations involved in this project as follows:
- Fiji Higher Education Commission
- Fiji Ministry of Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations
- The Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP) of the Pacific Community (SPC)
- Technical Education Skills and Training (TEST), Fiji Ministry of Education
- Technical College of Fiji (TCF)
- Fiji Centre of Appropriate Technology and Development
- The European Union Pacific Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (EU PacTVET) of the Pacific Community (SPC)
- Montfort Boys Town
- Chevalier Training Centre
- Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC)
- Fiji National University College of Engineering, Science, and Technology
Papua New Guinea:
- TVET, Policy & Research Wing, Department of Education
- National Training Council
- Department of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology
- Don Bosco Technological Institute
- Papua New Guinea National Commission for UNESCO
- TVET Private Training Providers
- TVET Institutions, Department of Education
- Samoa Qualifications Agency (SQA)
- Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
- Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
- Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)
- Institut Penyelidikan Pendidikan Tinggi Negara (IPPTN)
Based on the three case studies (Fiji, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea), TVET programmes are purposely offered for national productivity, employment, and pursuing education focusing on trade skills including carpentry, welding, plumbing, agro, and aqua skills. There are diverse types of providers offering TVET and LLL, and the more dominant are the NGOs, religious organisations, and technical schools. LLL programmes are not considered formal TVET programmes. They comprise daily survival skills and are conducted for the communities.
Arguably, TVET in the Pacific region is faced with several challenges such as the mismatch between graduate competencies and industry requirements; low public perception towards TVET; low levels of participation of female students in TVET programmes; un-unified TVET qualifications framework, accreditation, and certification systems; lack of specialist TVET teachers; poor quality of facilities for effective running of TVET programmes; and insufficient funding.
Two sets of policy recommendations focusing on four intertwined issues of great relevance for capacity building in the Pacific countries, namely,
- the un-unified nature of TVET programmes and frameworks,
- the expansion of access to multiple pathways and future direction of LLL,
- the need for appropriate alignment of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to the Pacific Qualifications Framework (PQF) and vice-versa, and
- the involvement of higher education institutions in contributing to capacity building among TVET providers/stakeholders are recommended.
The two sets of policy recommendations are (a) general policy recommendations and (b) specific policy recommendations.
The general policy recommendations are primarily to initiate policy dialogue towards the development and mapping of the NQF in alignment to the PQF and vice-versa. They comprise:
- prioritising an overarching national agenda that emphasises the importance, growth, and development of TVET and LLL in the Pacific Island countries.
- developing and mapping the NQF in alignment to the PQF.
- establishing a regional entity comprising various institutions/ agencies to undertake continuous learning opportunities and skills upgrading in TVET.
The specific policy recommendations include the following:
- develop a code of practice for TVET programme development and accreditation comprising of programme development and delivery, assessment, student selection, educational resources, teaching staff, programme management and monitoring, review, and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI).
- develop an approach/mechanism to recognise LLL as an alternative pathway to the various levels of education within the NQF through the accreditation of prior experiential learning for access and award of credits.
- conceptualise a regional entity comprising various institutions/ agencies to undertake continuous learning opportunities and skills upgrading in TVET.
Further recommended, a study tour in Malaysia (Penang and Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya) considered for 20 to 30 delegates representing multiple stakeholders, policymakers, and instructors in TVET as far as possible across the 15 countries in the Pacific region. Participation by relevant representatives and stakeholders in this programme is important for the sharing of good practices in Malaysia.
This project has undoubtedly aided in providing an analysis and evaluation of the current situation of TVET and LLL in the context of SDG 4 and, in particular, target 4.3 and 4.4 in the Pacific Island countries with a view towards future development of the system through relevant policy initiatives. The role of various stakeholders is equally important in bringing ideas to practice. The recommended study tour is planned to take place in Malaysia in March 2018. CTEF will engage resource persons and experts at the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN) and relevant agencies from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning Centre (APEL Authorised Centre) at Open University Malaysia (OUM) & Wawasan Open University, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), and Centre for Instructor and Advanced Skill Training (CIAST) to collaborate in the planning and implementation of relevant activities.