TVET misses out in new Education Act
The recent passing of the Education Act 2023 in the Solomon Islands’ parliament has sparked significant discussions and concerns among Rural Training Centres (RTCs), education experts, and stakeholders. Of particular note is the exclusion of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) from the legislative framework, prompting debates regarding the implications and potential consequences for the country’s educational landscape.
TVET, a critical component in many countries’ education systems, plays a vital role in providing practical skills and preparing individuals for various vocational careers. Its exclusion from the Solomon Islands Education Bill has raised concerns about the necessity of holistic education to meet the diverse needs of the populace and the workforce.
Dr. Transform Aqorau, Vice-Chancellor of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU), is one of the stakeholders who is concerned by this omission. He noted that TVET plays a crucial role in providing citizens with essential practical skills and competencies needed for diverse industries and trades.
He further expressed his apprehensions about the potential for TVET’s exclusion to hinder workforce growth and development, potentially causing a disconnect between available skills and job market demands. This mismatch could impede economic progress and restrict opportunities for citizens.
Dr. Aqorau emphasized the importance of a thorough evaluation of both the potential benefits and costs linked to the decision to exclude TVET from the Education Bill.
“Omitting TVET from the Education Bill could hinder workforce growth and development, causing a disconnect between available skills and job market demands. This mismatch could impede economic progress and restrict opportunities for citizens. We must thoroughly scrutinize the rationale for this exclusion and carefully consider the potential long-term consequences for our nation.”
Dr. Aqorau further explained that universities, particularly SINU, can play a multifaceted role in supporting TVET. Firstly, universities can collaborate with TVET institutions to develop and offer relevant courses and programs that align with the evolving needs of the workforce. This collaboration can lead to the creation of pathways for TVET graduates to further their education at the tertiary level.
Secondly, universities can engage in research and innovation that directly benefit the TVET sector. This research can inform policy and practice, ensuring that TVET programs remain responsive to industry demands. Additionally, universities can provide professional development opportunities for TVET educators, enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in this sector.
Meanwhile, it remains uncertain why TVET was excluded from the Solomon Islands Education Bill. Young people who have acquired skills from RTCs across Solomon Islands are among those raising concerns about this exclusion.
Under the UN’s sustainable development goals, quality education for all includes vocational training, which is important in achieving inclusive and quality education for all. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.
As discussions continue, stakeholders share a hope that the government will take necessary steps to ensure a balanced and inclusive educational system that meets the diverse needs of the population and supports the country’s overall development.