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Academic Education & TVET Both Important to Job Competence

12/16/2013 08:43 AM
TVET Council Barbados Latest News

MINISTER in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator Darcy Boyce has expressed the view that an over-reliance on academic qualifications and a neglect of practical learning could be responsible for some of the poor performance and low productivity seen in the workplace.


While delivering the feature address at the TVET Employers Recognition Awards Ceremony and Luncheon at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa on November 29, 2013, Minister Boyce stressed that competence was not based only on passing an examination but must encompass practice to acquire mastery of the skill and demonstration of the competence in a real work environment.


“Indeed, even in all the academically oriented professions, one is not permitted by the professional accreditation bodies to claim competence or to get a practicing certificate unless and until one has acquired the regulation amount of satisfactory practical training and experience,” he said.


He added: “It seems clear to me then that we must all agree that the inclusion of competence-based learning will complement our academic education, and that knowledge of theory and principle will in a similar vein strengthen practical learning.  This is a more sensible approach to the question of whether or not an employee is competent to do the job.”


Reflecting on Barbados’ education system prior to 1962, Senator Boyce noted that fees had to be paid for secondary education which meant only a small proportion of Barbadian children were selected for education at the academically-oriented secondary schools which often laid the foundation for professional careers.


He explained: “The education system that emerged out of this context was predisposed to valuing academic subjects highly, and to the neglect of formal technical and vocational training” adding, “children whose parents were unable to find the school fees went to work as agricultural labourers on the plantations and as apprentices pursuing a range of technical and vocational skills.”


He noted that while the latter option did not lead to formal, paper-based certification, it enabled many of the beneficiaries to be recognized by their peers, communities and employers for their excellence as practitioners of their various skills and their occupational proficiency. It also enabled self-employment, entrepreneurship and financial independence.


He lamented, however, that the two major problems resulting from the structure of Barbados formal education system which existed then was first “the assumption that academic proficiency indicated greater intelligence and the right to heavy investment in the person's education” and secondly “a disconnect between theory and practice in developing the individual and the country.”