What is TVET? If someone mentions the letters of this commonly used acronym, what does it really mean to you? This was the question asked of participants last week at a workshop held Dumbea Hall. The whiteboard quickly filled with writing as each member of the workshop called out, sharing their ideas with fellow technical and training sector partners such as Henry Vira from Vanuatu Association of non Government Organisations (VANGO) and Kathy Solomon Director of the Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centre Association (VRDTCA).

“It’s a second chance!” came an answer from the back row.

“For me, it means skills training in rural areas!”

“Life-long learning!” called out another participant.

The key partners workshop was held to analyse the design of the Australian Government funded Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Sector Program to see if its planned activities would really meet the needs of the skills training in Vanuatu. More and more ideas were called out, written on the board and matched to the TVET Program’s planned activities. The 6 year initiative targets the redressing of poverty of opportunity to access quality skills training that is specifically targeted at the needs of rural communities and to establish pathways by which those undertaking community based training might access higher levels of training and formal qualifications within a national education and training system.

“Improving the quality of training and buildings at our Rural Training Centres!”

“Income generation and self employment!”

“Better access and opportunity to good quality training!”

Daniel Lamoureux, Director General of the Ministry of Education, in opening the workshop had reminded the participants, “Our Minister, the Hon Joe Natuman has told us that grassroots people need training and development in rural areas. We have talked and talked and talked about providing more opportunities. But the time for talk has ended. The TVET Sector Strengthening Program means we will have the support of the Australian Government to put our words into action.”

Team Leader Margaret Macfarlane, who recently attended the Annual General Meeting of VRDTCA hosted by the Narea Rural Training Centre at Kaiowo Village, North Maewo, explained, “The AGM and the chance for me too meet the managers and RTC Committee Chairmen was a real eye opener. I’ve worked in education here in Vanuatu since 1989 but this time spent talking to rural trainers made me realize how urgent is the need to get appropriate skills training out there where 82% of Ni-Vanuatu live. The Minister Joe Natuman was right when he said last week that the resources and people are out there, but opportunities to get access to good quality training and properly trained technical skills trainers are not. The TVET Program is all about supporting, with resources and funding, the established groups that are already out there trying to address this problem. You only have to look at the whiteboard to see that people here working in Government and NGOs know what this TVET Program could deliver.”

The TVET Program will work with a broad range of partner agencies and Ministries such as the Ministry of Youth Development and Training, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries and the Department of Labour as well as NGOs like VANGO, VRDTCA and World Vision to create better access to technical and skills training throughout the six provinces of Vanuatu.

Peter Morris, Technical Director for the TVET Program concluded, looking at the packed whiteboard, “These dreams and aspirations need to be turned into reality.”

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