Experts call for reforms in TVET design and implementation

KATHMANDU, MAY 13: Various experts and advocates have called for meticulous reforms in the design and implementation of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs. At a sharing of findings of four different studies undertaken by the Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED) on Sunday, the researchers highlighted reform needs in financing, investment, technical and non-technical skills enhancement, shared incentives, and good governance in the operation of the sector. Presenting the findings of the research ‘Household Financing in TVET in Nepal’, Prof. Dr. Mahesh Nath Parajuli highlighted that households with limited earnings have been bearing a higher financial burden for TVET education. The research, according to him, revealed that households shared 49 percent of TVET education expenditure, followed by the government (37 percent), external donors (7 percent), and others (7 percent). The research recommended measures to reduce structural inequalities prohibiting access to TVET, lower household burden for TVET, and find cost partners and collaborators in the sector.

Likewise, sharing the findings of another research ‘Skills Gap: Exploring Education-to-Work Transition in Nepal’s Construction Sector’, Associate Prof. Dr. Prakash Chandra Bhattarai said skills gaps have created multi-fold issues such as widening unemployment, creating difficulties for employers to obtain a skilled workforce, and the need for evidence-based policy/practice. The study found that graduate employees entered the job market with minimal competencies, including technical and non-technical skills in the construction sector. The research called for an enhanced role of educational institutions in terms of curricula, pedagogy, assessment; linkage, and collaboration with industry sectors; and reforms in policy to match the demand side and supply side of the sector.

KUSOED Head of the Department, Dr. Suresh Gautam, in his research ‘Youth Employment and Income: Insights from the 2022 Youth Survey’, underlined the need for skill-based education with quality, relevance, and good governance and realizing and enhancing the social/cultural capital of the trainees. The research recommended developing an approach, drawing from socio-educational-political, and economic dynamics, to enhance youth employment and address social structures for developing role models of aspiring youth for TVET.

Delivering his presentation to share the findings of his research entitled ‘Local Governments Financing in TVET: A Study of Gandaki Province’, Dr. Prakash Kumar Paudel highlighted that the TVET budget has been steadily increasing in volume but largely financed with external sources. According to the research findings, informal/non-formal TVET was found to be an area of priority; local governments have yet to give priority attention to taking a role in the financing of TVET.

Commenting on the research papers, education reform advocate Dr. Bishnu Karki suggested that they should impart a candid message that TVET involves certain costs but there are opportunities for a higher rate of return. He advocated for the need to adopt the Swiss dual model (both general and technical & vocational education) in Nepal with careful design of incentives for attracting students. It demands the engagement of multiple stakeholders, including technical training providers, employers, and trainees, to promote skill-based employment by adopting an apprenticeship approach.

Likewise, Principal Social Sector Specialist of the Asian Development Bank, Rudi Van Dael, lauded emerging research on TVET in Nepal, highlighting that the broader society needs to think towards lowering the cost burden of education in Nepal. The research was undertaken by KUSOED with support from the Linking Education and Labour Markets (LELAM) project financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).