Implementation of recommendations on track 

Yangchen C Rinzin

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) revamping works are underway and would cover most of the recommendations on TVET the National Council passed last year, labour officials said.

The Special Committee of NC for TVET asked the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources on the implementation status of TVET recommendations it submitted during its first public hearing yesterday.

Labour officials asked on the status of 17 recommendations made under the five areas submitted during the last National Council session in June 2019.

The five recommendations were on governance and leadership, diversification of courses and enrichment of curriculum, professional development for instructors and trainees, industrial and institutional linkages and collaboration, and financial support.

The revamp, officials said, would see a development of national TVET policy. However, this is not a new attempt.

In 2013, a TVET policy was drafted and submitted to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). 

The ministry is again reworking on the formulation of TVET policy.

Formulation of a comprehensive national TVET policy was one of the recommendations made by the NC. Committee chairperson and eminent NC member Phuntsho Rapten asked on the status of the policy since there is a need for one.

Department of technical education director Norbu Wangchuk said that the 2013 draft was put on hold by the GNHC after TVET Blueprint (2016-2026) was endorsed since the blueprint would serve as a policy. He said that during a review it was found that the blueprint did not capture many components of the TVET so the policy is needed.

“We started to re-work and reviewed the draft 2013 policy by the internal working group in March 2019,” Norbu Wangchuk said. “It was submitted to GNHC in July last year.”

However, the revision of TVET policy is put on hold again because of the plan on revamp of TVET by the government. Two expert working groups are established to work on revamping the programme.

“However, we’re trying to ready the policy by July so that when interim National TVET Council is established, it would take care of the policy,” the director said. “We were working on the policy and everything was ready until we received an executive order in September to work on revamping TVET.”

On the recommendation of developing a separate career structure for TVET professionals in the civil service and according to priority to the TVET sector both in national planning and budget allocation, Norbu Wangchuk said that all these are being worked out under the TVET transformation and are on track.

The special committee had also recommended to develop human resources development policy for TVET trainers and allocate dedicated HRD budget for the development of TVET system.

The director said that competency based HR development exercise has started and was supposed to complete by December last year. However, it is on hold after the ministry was instructed to work on the TVET transformation.

“Since there would be new courses developed under the transformation of TVET, we’ll have to wait for these courses to come,” he said, adding that only then the ministry can continue with occupational competency based exercise.

The ministry is also working through the TVET transformation programme on the recommendations like recruiting experts and trainers from abroad, development of separate career structure for TVET professionals, and awarding scholarships to the top performers of training institutes.

The ministry is reviewing existing practices regarding on the job (OTJ) structure based on which policy guidelines will be developed.

“The guidelines will ensure that there is a supervisor to monitor or have an industrial supervisor to maintain proper work plan and space optimisation.”

The NC had recommended to increase the monthly stipend of trainees from Nu 1,500 to Nu 3,000 per student. Norbu Wangchuk said that the department had prepared the concept paper on the stipend and submitted to the ministry.

“However, submission of concept paper to the government was temporarily put on hold because of the TVET transformation plan,” he said. “We’ll ensure to put this up when interim TVET council is formed and ask them to work on it as a part of the reform.”

Phuntsho Rapten said that the committee had tried to endorse this in the pay commission report so that TVET programme does not have to depend on the finance ministry.

Phuntsho Rapten said that the ministry is undertaking a lot of TVET reforms and initiatives. He said that the progress of the reforms would directly depend on the national TVET council.

However, the committee was dissatisfied to see that the revamping plan did not include the establishment of national institute of technical education or resource centre despite the TVET Blueprint mandating to have one.

Norbu Wangchuk said that although the ministry had included it in the 12th Plan as a priority, it was not approved. “But the interim TVET council can revisit and look into the possibilities.”

Phuntsho Rapten said that the hearing gives the members an opportunity to update on the work progress and prepare for the coming session.