More register for technical skills

There was an increase in the number of students who registered for National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) examinations this year, despite challenges faced in the education sector amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to Dr Kasan Troupe, acting chief education officer at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, reports from the NCTVET examining body indicated that a total of 16,000 students registered this year, while 14,845 students registered in 2020.

Some of the courses include automotive servicing, agro-food processing, apiculture, cosmetology, digital literacy, commercial food preparation, animation, networking engineering, software engineering, and ebsite design.

Dr Troupe was among four TVET experts who addressed the launch for the 5th International conference on TVET in the Caribbean last Wednesday.

The virtual event will be held from May 12-14, under the theme ‘TVET-Towards the 21st Century Economy: Principles, Strategies and Work Practice.’

Dr Troupe also explained that the skills programmes have been severely affected amid the pandemic, especially since they require much practicality.

“Like all our teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic would have disrupted teaching and learning and more so for our technical and vocational areas, given the fact that our students rely on the labs within our schools to have most of their activities completed. They also rely on the hands-on mentorship and the coaching from our teachers,” she said.

However, she pointed out that investments were made in the empowerment and professional development for TVET teachers for virtual learning, under United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) partnership.

“We pulled out all our heads of department in our technical and vocational areas and we brought them through a series of training programmes for them to understand how to use the virtual platform to the benefit of the programmes so that the students would not be left behind,” said Dr Troupe.

Some of the activities that were mentioned by Dr Troupe to facilitate the virtual learning experience of students, include simulation sessions, online coaching and recorded demonstrations of teachers utilising tools and suggesting mechanisms that could be used in the homes.

“Those were some of the things we had to do — they existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but because of the nature of the remote experience, the education system was now forced to utilise the technology in a more forceful way…It has been difficult at every level, but our teachers have been trying and our parents have been working with them and supporting them,” Dr Troupe said.

According to Dr Marcia Rowe Amonde, senior director for TVET development and support systems at HEART/NSTA Trust, some institutions adopted a blended-learning approach, and have been observing COVID-19 protocols for physical classes.

“Some of our institutions have been [facilitating] very small groups. So we bring the trainees in and we have them observing the social distancing, wearing the mask, sanitising and in that way they are able to do the practical,” said Dr Rowe Amonde.

“We have also invested a lot in videos. We have done this in-house and at times we have gone outside and engaged other stakeholders to come in and help us produce videos, so that our trainees can have it available to follow a step by step approach in developing their skills,” she added.

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