Photo: Anand Gurung/SKILLS

Technical-vocational education and training (TVET) is set to receive a facelift in Karnali Province with the establishment of a state-of-the-art technical university in Surkhet, the province capital. Deeming sustainable development next-to-impossible without improving the quality and accessibility of TVET, Karnali’s Social Development Minister Dal Bahadur Rawal said that the institution was being set up with the objective of raising the prospects of the people of this impoverished region through international-standard technical courses.

Speaking at a programme organized by the High Level TVET Taskforce of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in Surkhet with the facilitation of UNDP Nepal's Support to Knowledge and Lifelong Learning Skills (SKILLS) programme on 13 August, Minister Rawal emphasized that an assessment of the need and necessities of the local job market should precede the launch of the institution.

"Karnali Province has tremendous opportunities in hydro-electricity, medicinal herb-farming and tourism. So the short and long-term TVET programmes here should focus on producing skilled workforce in those three areas," he said. He added that a national TVET council should also be formed—under the convenorship of the federal education minister and with social development ministers of all seven provinces as members—to identify the unique development requirements of each province and ways to address these through streamlined and tailored TVET.

Minister Rawal also advised the high-level TVET taskforce, which has conducted similar consultative meetings in all seven provinces of the country to review the existing TVET policy, to clearly delineate the responsibilities of the federal, provincial and local governments when it comes to delivering quality TVET. He expressed hope that the taskforce would succeed in its objective to devise and structure an all-inclusive national TVET policy as well as provincial TVET policies, and set benchmarks for their implementation.

On his part, Dr Sunil Babu Shrestha, member of the high-level TVET taskforce, stressed on the need to broaden the scope and reach of TVET so as to create a skilled workforce capable of contributing to the overall development of the country.  "Adopting the cooperative model and the principles of public-private partnership can help expand the reach of TVET and render it more accessible to the general masses," he added.  

Other participants included Secretary at the Social Development Ministry Giriraj Sharma, Deputy Mayor of Birendranagar Sub-Metropolis Mohan Maya Dhakal, MoEST Under Secretary Dr. Mukunda Mani Khanal, senior government officials, ward chairpersons, principals and teachers of TVET schools/institutions and engineering colleges, private training providers, representatives of non-government organizations and journalists. Discussions between them revealed a collective belief that TVET currently being provided across the country should adopt scientific teaching methods that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship among students.

Affordability was another issue that was raised, and Ram Krishna Lamicchane, one of the participants, expressed his disappointment at the fact that TVET is increasingly becoming more expensive.  "This is the reason why TVET is gradually moving beyond the reach of targeted communities who could otherwise greatly benefit from skill-oriented programmes to raise their living standard," he said. “This is why the government should invest more in TVET sector and establish technical colleges/institutions in all the local units of the country to make technical educational more affordable and accessible.”

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