WITH the various education initiatives and policies, Malaysia is now one of the leading countries in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said this was proven through the many success stories in these programmes.
For example, three Malaysian polytechnics obtained gold accreditation from the Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission recently.
“So, we come together to share ideas with the rest of Asia Pacific.
“A total of 48 countries are taking part in this conference to understand the philosophy of TVET,” he said when launching the Asia-Pacific Conference on Education and Training 2015 held in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 3 to 5.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisaton (Unesco) Asia and Pacific director Gwang-Jo Kim said it was imperative that the region worked together towards inclusive education.
“Asia Pacific is one of the fastest-growing regions in TVET. Continued skill development is the key to avoiding economic stagnation,” he said at the launch of the conference.
Themed “Making Skills Development Work for the Future”, the conference’s focus was on TVET and ICT education.
History was subsequently made at the Asia-Pacific Conference on Education and Training with the acceptance of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration.
The declaration, themed ‘Quality Education and Skills Development for a Sustainable Future’ is aimed at ensuring further transformation of TVET in the region.
It also became the first TVET document in the region and a hub of reference among Asia-Pacific countries.
The declaratioan was endorsed by Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap in conjunction with the close of the conference.
It contains eight components or recommendations drafted after two days of discussion among education ministers, deputy ministers and high-ranking officials from Asia Pacific.
The ministers noted the progress made in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the region since the Third International Congress on TVET in Shanghai, China in May 2012, in particular in enhancing the relevance of TVET to employers’ skills needs; preparing students for “green” economies and societies; utilising electronic and or digital technologies; advancing student-centred learning and innovation; improving qualifications; developing pathways to higher education and employment; and strengthening partnerships in TVET planning, design, delivery and assessment.
“We recognised the uneven progress among countries and considered the main challenges limiting further enhancements of the relevance and attractiveness of TVET, including weak technical, financial and institutional capacity, and lack of broad partnerships and coordination mechanisms involving government, employers, youth and other stakeholders,” they said in the declaration.
They also emphasised that TVET has a significant role in the post-2015 international education and development agenda towards achieving the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.
The ministers are also conscious that TVET is understood as being part of both the universal right to education and right to work.
They recalled the outcomes of the World Education Forum held in Incheon, Korea from May 19 to 22 this year, in particular the commitment in the Incheon Declaration to ‘promoting quality lifelong learning opportunities for all’, which includes equitable and increased access to TVET, with due attention to quality assurance.
They also bore in mind the challenges that remain to be addressed in transforming TVET systems to unleash the potential of TVET, so as to increase learners’ employability and contribute to sustainable development.
The ministers recommend that governments and all other TVET stakeholders in Unesco’s member states in the Asia-Pacific region consider implementing the following actions in response to challenges identified during the Conference.
These recommendations namely:
1) Enhance the quality of TVET and its relevance to the changing needs of the world of work: Member states should transform and expand TVET and pay increased attention to strengthening the links between its outcomes and changing labour market needs, particularly through labour market studies, private sector involvement, fostering interactions between key stakeholders in education and the world of work, and entrepreneurship development.
Member states should also make efforts to enhance the quality of TVET across its various types and in the multiple settings where it can take place including through the development of quality standards and curriculum reforms. They should also pay particular attention to teachers’ professional development.
2) Ensure inclusive and equitable TVET: Member states should increase and diversify learning opportunities to provide TVET for disadvantaged populations, including people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and those living in remote and rural areas so as to promote equality of opportunity.
Girls and women should be empowered through gender responsive policies and skills development practices, career guidance and counselling, and information for better access to TVET programmes leading to more equitable labour market and social outcomes.
3) Expand lifelong learning opportunities through TVET: Member states should develop TVET and skills development policies that are guided by lifelong learning principals and that create learning opportunities for all. Open and flexible mechanisms for professional development and for the reskilling and upskilling of workers in the workplace should be promoted.
4) Integrate greening skills for sustainable development in TVET programmes: Greening skills in TVET programmes for both existing and emerging occupations with a view to achieve sustainable development, including poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth should be integrated.
5) Adapt qualifications systems to facilitate learning and career pathways: Member states recognise that qualification systems and frameworks are important for recognising formal, non-formal and informal learning; building lifelong learning systems; and facilitating the recognition of qualifications.
6) Strengthen governance and increase investment in TVET: An appropriate framework to strengthen the governance of TVET and establish multi-stakeholder partnerships including local communities should be developed.
7) Leverage the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for TVET: Appropriate policies, strategies and affordable solutions should be put in place to improve ICT facilities in TVET institutions.
8) Foster regional integration and labour mobility: Exchanges of experiences, knowledge-sharing and peer learning through regional organisations, platforms and networks should be promoted.
The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) launched in April this year, highlights 10 shifts. One of these shifts is Quality TVET Graduates.
Under the Economic Transformation Programme, Malaysia will require a 2.5 fold increase in TVET enrolment by 2025.
Malaysia needs to move from a higher education system with a primary focus on university education as the sole pathway to success, to one where academic and TVET pathways are equally valued and cultivated.
To achieve these outcomes, the ministry will intensify industry involvement and partnerships, streamline qualifications, improve coordination across the ministry’s TVET providers and enhance branding efforts.
These include enabling industry to lead curriculum design and delivery, enhancing coordination across the ministry’s various TVET providers and coordinating with other ministries and agencies.
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