Traditionally, a large part of Tanzania population has, for a few decades now, been despising vocational training, compared to academic studies, which according to most parents, teachers and other stakeholders, aims at leading to top educational qualifications.
In effect, during the era of the National and Vocational Training Division (NVTD), under which the Vocational Education and Training (VET) operated for 20 years, curricula mainly catered for drop outs of primary education.
During those days, training programmes contained only a few courses, such as motor mechanics, electronics, welding, motor driving etc.
Vocational education and training is a kind of education which prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic and totally related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation.
With vocational training, a trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of technology.
Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) – an autonomous government agency, was established by Act No. 1 of 1994.
Among the objectives of VETA are to satisfy the demands of the labour market for employees with trade skills in order to improve production and productivity of the economy.
It also provides short and tailor-made course programmes and in service training, in order to improve performance of the national economy.
Its ultimate mission is to ensure provision of quality VETA that meets labour market demands through effective coordination and regulation in collaboration with stakeholders.
Indeed, investing in a strong VET sub-sector is crucial, particularly in developing countries.
“Given the immense technological and social economic development, which characterises the present era, particularly globalization, vocational education is a vital aspect of the education process in all countries,” according to a UNESCO 2001 report.
In essence, VET is important in that it provides competences which are necessary for labour market growth, particularly for the under privileged and marginalized groups- an avenue for a better life.
In Tanzania , there are 26 vocational education training centres -- an equivalent of one centre for each region – up from 14 centres during the VETA inception in 1995. The enrolment was then 3, 070 against the present 20,000.
There are nine zones which constitute the structure of governance of VETA . They are central zone ( Dodoma – Singida and Manyara), Eastern Zone (Coast and Morogoro) , Lake Zone (Mwanza, Kagera and Mara) and Northern Zone (Tanga, Kilimanjaro and Arusha)
Others are Highland Zone (Iringa na Ruvuma), South East Zone (Mtwara and Lindi), Western Zone (Tabora, Kigoma and Shinyanga) , Dar es Salaam zone (Dar es salaam) and South Western Zone [Mbeya and Rukwa].
Though VETA is an autonomous government agency, other vocational educational training (VET) are also offered by the private sector, comprising vocational training centres owned by Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Faith Based Organisations (FBO), Private Companies and individuals.
The private sector has the biggest number of vocational training centres. It boasts of 523 (78%) against 149 (22%) which is public owned- central government (82) local government (46) and VETA (21), bringing the total number of VET institutions in the country to 671.
The main source of VETA funding is skills development levy (SDL); which levies 6 percent payroll on all employers with four or more employees.
Others are government contributions in terms of development projects, donor aid, funds from internal sources, income generating activities and training fees.
VETA has an obligation to support partner VET providers -- over 900 of them.
“If an individual has a vocational education centre, VETA provides the particular institution with curriculum and certificates on trainees completion of course”, revealed a VETA official.
VETA’s other similar role, is to maintain a close linkage with industries and other VET stakeholders, says the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Speaking at the climax of VET Week here recently, Depurty Minister for Vocational and Educational Training Philipo Mulugo said many teachers and students were not fully conversant with roles vested on VETA, including curriculum, fees chargeable and other services.
“I henceforth order all District Education Officers (DEOs) in the country, to pay regular visits to schools to sensitize them on various courses offered by VETA,” he said.
He said the one week symposium had specifically been organized to create public awareness on activities of VETA.
“After here, you should organise an evaluation exercise,” Mulugo ordered.
He said “many countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, had made remarkable strides towards development of their countries because they had heavily invested in vocational education training.”
“On our part (Tanzania) a total of 1.2 million graduates have been employed after attaining training from VETA since its inception in 1995,according to
David Kazuva, Director of Technical Education and Vocational Training in the Ministry of Education said in an interview that government had plans, on the drawing board, of providing each district in the country with a VET centre.
“We have started with Makete. Then we shall gradually move to other districts,” said Kazuva, adding that presently, the government was soliciting funds from financiers for the ambitious project.’
Kazuva ,one of the seniormost officials from the ministry who officiated at the function to sensitise wananchi on the need to use the abundant opportunities offered by VETA in terms of vocational training, revealed that the cost of construction of a single vocational training centre was presently TShs 6billion .
According to Kazuva, most Folk Development Centres (FDC) which offered vocational courses in various trades, neeeded rehabilitation.
“We have rehabitated 25 of them, out of the established 55. Slowly, we shall move to the others,” he said, adding that it was more economical to rehabilitate the centres than build new vocational education structures.
Opening the VET Week here recently,Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, emphasized the need for VETA to maintain high standards in their training programmes in order to produce technicians who will be able to compete in the present era of free market economy.
“As you all know, the formal sector has lost its glory,at least , in as far as employment opportunities are concerned. It can no longer accommodate the overwhelming population of job seekers, unlike in the past,” said Dr. Bilal.