Sri Lanka’s TVET System Benchmarked by South Asian Countries

Sri Lanka’s TVET System is highly benchmarked for Innovation and Best Practices in Quality Assurance for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in South Asia.

South Asian countries with diverse geography, economy and demography are on the verge of achieving sustainable development goals which have been defined by the United Nations Organization. The labour force being trained for high tech production, and is rapidly moving towards knowledge economies, poses greater human resource management  challenges to the governments. Substantial efforts need to be exerted to eradicate inequality, inequity and imbalance in terms of unemployment, poverty and pollution etc.  Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is a rational and effective mechanism to deal with these challenges and provide education and readiness for world of work in formal and informal labour markets.

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Sri Lanka being pioneered in implementing a unified TVET system in the region has achieved many goals including National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), Competency Based Training (CBT), Competency Based Assessments (CBA), Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) etc., which have ignited benchmarking by neighbouring countries of UNESCO-UNEVOC network. Quality assurance being the cornerstone of all developments and implementations, plays a key role in sustainable development of the TVET in terms of innovations and best practices. Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC), under the purview of the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training is mandated with quality assurance and accreditation of TVET sector in Sri Lanka as the apex body.

UNESCO UNEVOC Network

The UNEVOC Network is the premier global platform and network dedicated to TVET under the purview of UNESCO. The UNEVOC Network provides an environment for exchange and mutual assistance among TVET experts, ministries and institutions worldwide. The Comprehensive Partnership Strategy UNEVOC Network outlines three strategic objectives of the UNEVOC Network:

 

  • To improve TVET in Member States by promoting and fostering international collaboration and partnerships and cooperation among TVET practitioners, civil society, local communities, researchers and policy- makers;
  • To develop the capacities of UNEVOC Centres and associated TVET practitioners by providing various forms of technical assistance; and
  • To share promising practices and innovations in TVET, through the promotion of research and practice- based evidence.

 

At the country level, the UNEVOC Network aims to provide a framework and vital institutional mechanism for collaboration in thematically addressing local issues with global impact, while at the international level, UNESCO-UNEVOC through the UNEVOC Network fosters south–south and north–south–south cooperation and learning, and provides an environment for exchange and mutual assistance among TVET experts and institutions in different parts of the world.

 

UNESCO-UNEVOC coordinates its network of TVET institutions which are clustered into five regions: Asia and the Pacific; Africa, Arab States; North America, EU and CIS; and Latin America and the Caribbean. Within each of these regions, sub-clusters are identified based on geographical and contextual commonalities, and a more focused strategy to reinforce the broader regional strategic frameworks is instituted.

 

Inclusive and equitable quality education to promote lifelong learning

As agreed upon with Incheon Declaration, sustainable development goal 4, “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” paved the way to achieve “Education 2030” goals with a special focus towards quality and relevance in TVET. This agenda on TVET addresses multiple demands of an economic, social and environmental nature by helping youth and adults with developing skills they need for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship, promoting equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and supporting transitions to green economies and environmental sustainability.

Countries in Asia have placed a great emphasis on developing their human resources of TVET as one of the main economic and social development strategies in their respective countries. Providing demand driven and quality assured TVET ensures the creation of flexible pathways for the learners, meets the skills needed in the labour market and addresses the aspirations of the youth. This observation corresponds with a report of UNESCO (2015) when it reviewed the Asia-Pacific region’s progress in following up the call for action that had been made in Shanghai in 2012. The review assessed progress in instituting mechanisms to raise TVET relevance in the region, particularly how countries have made good progress in strengthening TVET students’ linkages to the world of work, improving the recognition of formal TVET qualifications, and developing pathways to further education, and employment and self-employment for TVET graduates. The review also highlighted areas for improvement in so far as reforming qualification and certification systems is concerned. More actions are needed to recognize and validate the learning gained in informal and non-formal settings.

UNESCO-UNEVOC’s Engagement in TVET Development

As part of its Medium-Term Strategy, UNESCO-UNEVOC is working on strengthening and reinvigorating its network. Given the increasing recognition of TVET in the international development discourse in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO-UNEVOC continues to advocate and enables an effective pursuit of transformative TVET for sustainable development. Based on the regional activity trends and an analysis of the prospects and challenges across all the regions of UNESCO-UNEVOC’s engagement, South Asia has emerged as a high priority cluster for network reinvigoration, regional collaboration and strengthened engagement on the key thematic areas of ICT, Greening and Youth Employment.

Considering these developments, UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre in Bonn, Germany, in collaboration with UNEVOC Centres shares experiences across countries within the South Asian region whilst unleashing gradually the potential to learn from each other and promote to benchmark practices that could be useful for policy learning or even adaptation.
TVET officials of the countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan have visited Sri Lanka in last few years to study the TVET system and gained a practical exposure to explore possible benchmarking of systems and standards, using regional network of UNESCO-UNEVOC for which TVEC of Sri Lanka acting as the sub-cluster coordinating center. TVEC’s efforts include work with partner organizations in the region and with the effective approaches and strategies of advocacy and vision building through awareness, human capital building and necessary training and learning activities for the TVET officials of the partner organizations in the South Asian region.

 

To share the Sri Lanka’s and other countries’ experiences establishing qualification frameworks to achieve quality assurance in TVET, sub regional workshop has been organized jointly by UNESCO -UNEVOC Headquarters in Germany and Sri Lanka UNESCO-UNEVOC Cluster coordinating center, which established at Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) from 20-22 February 2017 at Hotel Ramada with the participation of delegates from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and UNESCO.

 

This workshop has incorporated a range of learning and knowledge sharing opportunities and approaches, including presentations, and moderated discussions to achieve the intended goals. TVET experts of the countries have provided with the opportunity to share and learn from national country experiences in implementing Qualifications Frameworks (QF) and quality assurance processes.  This effort is complemented with coordinated and cooperative approach with all stakeholders of the system to ensure greater inclusive and sustainable outcomes. The role of training providers in setting up their quality management systems is highlighted as paramount importance and the success in quality depends on active role played proactively by every individual at organizational level.

 

More information on the above could be obtained by visiting www.tvec.gov.lk and www.unevoc.unesco.org.

 

Janaka Jayalath

jayalath@tvec.gov.lk

 

 

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