Dr Jay Bahadur Tandan is member secretary of theCouncil for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). Established in 1989, the Council is a national autonomous apex body of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) committed to the
production of technical and skilled human resources. He spoke to Surendra Tandukar of THT Perspectives on the situation of technical
education in the country. Excerpts:
Where does Nepal stand in generation and management of technically and vocationally skilled manpower?
For technical education and vocational training, several models of technical education were introduced in Nepal at different points of time. However, these models could not last for more than a decade. Starting with ‘General Education’ in
the 1950s, the government launched many programmes like ‘Multi-technical High Schools’, new model of education incorporating vocational trainings in high schools. But, none of these models worked and in the 1980s, the concept of trade schools was introduced. With a view to facilitate, empower, and develop the rural areas, Karnali Technical Institute was established as a pilot project, which is also the foundation of CTEVT. Since technical education is much costlier than an academic one, the government implemented a policy of gradually expanding such institutes and allowed private sector participation around 16 years ago. Now, we impart three modalities of education through four polytechnic institutes, 18 technical institutes and two vocational training centres. Similarly, in the private sector, we have given affiliation to some 141 institutes in Technical School Leaving Certificate (TSLC), 177 institutes in intermediate and diploma level and 50 institutes in short-term vocational training. This way we are generating thousands of skilled and semi-skilled people through more than 350 different institutes.
What is the scope of technical education and how effective or fruitful is it to compete in the tough job market?
CTEVT graduates have paved a good track record of themselves. We have a refined way of providing affiliations and are transparent about it. This proves that there is no compromise in the quality of education, which is evident through the outstanding results. There is high scope in the courses we offer — depending on the courses, 70 to 100 per cent of our graduates are engaged in their respective sectors. We claim that our students are highly competitive and have made their niche in the market. We have capacity to enrol around 3,500 students in nursing course but there were more than 14,000 applicants for the same last year. We are committed to enhancing technical education and vocational training to make it more competitive.
What is your say on the growing trend of foreign employment, with lack of job opportunities within the country?
The world is a global village, technical education has to be at par with international standards and with international accreditation. If we could prioritise this, it would be instrumental to resolve the problem of unemployment and national development. Unemployment is one of the major problems of our country. It is a harrowing situation and there is less than 10 per cent probability for students of academic education to get a job, while there is job
security of more than 80 per cent for students of technical education. However, in Nepal, less than three per cent of students opt for technical education after SLC while more than 95 per cent go for academic courses. Thus, to generate employment and self-employment, promoting this education system could help in the overall development of the nation. At present, thousands of Nepalis are employed abroad but merely three per cent are skilled, while 27 per cent are semi-skilled. However, around 23 per cent of our total GDP is contributed by their remittance. So we can assume that the remittance would be increased by four to five folds if they were skilled manpower.
What challenges does the council face in providing technical education?
Unlike other academic education, technical education is more expensive and costlier to run, which is a challenge for us. We were initially supposed to operate some 20 to 25 institutes only. Managing more than 350 affiliated, constituent and annex institutes has become yet another challenge. Lack of human resources and financial assistance also prevent us from functioning smoothly. As technology is rapidly advancing, we find it hard to update our staffs with new technologies. Our inability to reach the rural and remote areas is yet another drawback. As many organisations are operating several technical and vocational trainings on their own, it has been fragmented and there is no measurable standard to evaluate their certification. Therefore, the government is planning to introduce new National Technical Vocational Policy to address the problem.
What are the future plans of the council?
Although we usually seem to be vocal about disadvantaged and underprivileged people, most of our programmes are still centred in the urban areas, while the people in remote areas are deprived of these services. Therefore, taking technical education to the remote areas is both the greatest challenge and priority for us. For this, we have been extending our programmes to different parts of the country and we aim for people in all 75 districts to be able to access our services. We have initiated mobile short-term vocational trainings in different rural areas and will give continuity to it in the future. ‘Skill for Employment’ is our ongoing project, which aims to self-employ 80,000 people. We also need to make a one door system for the financial assistance in this sector and are also planning to form a National Technical Education and Vocational Training Council by creating the National TEVT fund to collect all revenue and regulate it systematically. We will restructure the council and enhance its capability. We are also planning to create a National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) to regulate and give technical education an international acceptance.
Since government funding is insufficient, how do you plan to manage and run the number of institutes?
From its inception, CTEVT has been struggling with political interference and hence is now suffering from political instability. Until now, government of Nepal has not integrated technical education in the mainstream education. Earlier, CTEVT used to get less than one per cent of the education budget but from this year, the government has doubled the amount. However, that too is insufficient for us to smoothly run the institutions. The most important thing is human resources, which we need to develop for the progress of the nation. We are gradually heading towards advancement and the government is also assisting us in making it happen. But we also cannot forget the donor agencies helping us execute our programmes.