By John Ekongo
Management of the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) has succumbed to pressure from a student class boycott that has been running since March 19.
The strike is sequel to a recently introduced curriculum which students claim is “irrelevant to our needs, is substandard and equivalent to grade 10 admission requirements”.
The students claim that Competency Basic Education Training (CBET) system is not relevant to their needs as students in the vocational trades hence their claim that it was introduced prematurely.
WVTC Principal, Paulus Haukongo, confirmed to New Era yesterday that they would stop implementing the system and revert to the old one.
“We have been formally informed by Government to stop the system until further notice.”
The trainees will revert to the South African Based Dual Model of the National Trade Tes-ting and Certification Centre, until the CBET benchmarking process has been concluded by the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre.
Haukongo added that he was to meet the students yesterday afternoon to inform them on the latest development.
“We can expect them back in class as of tomorrow (today),” added Haukongo.
CBET was initially designed as a pilot project by the National Training Authority (NTA). Only Zambezi Vocational Training Centre at Katima Mulilo ran the system to first assess and test its suitability for vocational training education in the country.
Until yesterday, students had been lazing around the premises since March 19, with classes having come to a standstill. The four trades that were affected by CBET were plumbing and pipefitting, joinery and cabinet making, bricklaying and plastering and auto mechanics. However, students from other unaffected trades also joined the boycott in solida-rity with their colleagues.
Students alleged that instructors at the centre were having problems adapting to the CBET system since it was introduced with many of the instructors not properly trained.
“Management has not informed the students about the new system which one can only attend up to the third level. Now, those of us who have completed our third levels cannot go to a higher level,” said one trainee.
“More so is that the system appeared to have been introduced haphazardly,” claims Immanuel Wise of the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso).
“The decision to take on board CBET was taken by the WVTC itself, despite knowing that the centre was not suitable to offer training beyond Level 1 due to lack of capacity,” reveals Wise.
WVTC offers Level 1 to 3 in all the trades on its curriculum.
According to the Trainee Representative Council (TRC) at the WVTC, students were trained and assessed on manuals instead of the unit standards, as was in the past. This has resulted in many learners failing to write examinations.
New Era has possession of minutes of a meeting that took place between the TRC, Nanso and the Ministry of Education on March 28, in which facts were raised about the relevance of introducing such a system.
The meeting heard that only one instructor at the WVTC was trained to teach under CBET.
It was further said that the system only had two teaching methodology components, namely a theory and a practical part, leaving out the subjects of Mathematics, Science and Technical Drawing.
The trainees believed that for a field such as vocational training, Mathematics, Science and Technical Drawing are vital subjects.
Haukongo admitted that the system, which was developed by the NTA, was a concern at the centre.
Media reports indicated that the NTA admitted that there are problems regarding the adaptation of the CBET system. NTA further claims that the blame should be put squarely on the shoulders of the management who introduced the system without it receiving accreditation first.
“The centre’s management went ahead and implemented CBET without following the proper criteria which the NTA feels was not properly followed.
Zambezi Vocational Training Centre was to be the only centre to pilot the new CBET system but other centres opted to follow suit without looking at the capacity of the centre, even though they didn’t have the full capacity,” NTA’s Lawrence Pringle was quoted as saying recently.
Sixty-six curriculum mo-dules, 66 unit standards and 22 training manuals for Le-vels 1 to 3 were completed based on the CBET, which was developed for apprenticeship training and institutional trainees as well as private candidates.
The NTA facilitates curricula, unit standards and training manuals for both instructors and trainees for different trades such as auto mechanics, bricklaying and plastering, boiler making, tour guiding and hospitality.