We cannot go on undecided where the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme must belong—under the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. Any excuse and further delay is unacceptable.
The development of TVET programme in the country has to be viewed within the context of its relevance today. While the programme hasn’t grown significantly since its inception, its utility and demand have grown remarkably over the years. We need only look at the increasing number of foreign workers, especially in the construction sector, and rising youth unemployment.
These problems have their roots in Bhutan’s failure to understand the realities of the changing economic situations and the harsh consequences resulting from our—almost willful—ignorance.
TVET programme is currently looked after by the labour ministry because of the ministry’s mandate to develop, strengthen, and to promote TVET in the country. Now with the decision to include TVET as the fourth stream in the curriculum, there is a need to make the programme result-oriented. It is a no-brainer that the TVET programme now should be under the education ministry.
We are told that a blueprint has to be developed and finalised. Sitting on it will not suffice. Education Minister JB Rai said that a meeting between the officials of the two ministries and relevant officials would be held to come to a conclusion. The sooner it is done, the better.
The National Council has said that the TVET programme failed to meet the standard and the purpose it was established for some five decades ago.
Education minister saying that the youth unemployment is the biggest and the most serious problem today but a difficult one to tackle is ministry copping out. Surely, developing the TVET programme will demand investment. Nothing comes cheap. But there has to be the will to do it.
Interestingly, the development of the TVET programme was a major election promise that now seems to be increasingly losing the wind.
Further to the staggering youth unemployment rate of 10.6 percent, more than 20,000 job seekers are expected to enter the labour market annually. The small interventions that we have contrived like overseas employment programme have brought in new challenges, which will continue to grow if we ignore the systemic flaws. If the education system has outlived its utility and should be dispensed with, let the change come.
On foot of our failure to deal with the many challenges that contribute to growing unemployment among young people, the problem is now poised to become even more challenging.