28 de mayo de 2015

TVET and Sustainable Development: Learning from Experience. What are we waiting for and why?


By Enrique Pieck, Iberoamerican University, Mexico.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policies and programs come and go and so their different focuses, approaches and acronyms flood the literature on this theme and make things a bit complicated (SD,[i] GMR,[ii] HRBA[iii], HDCA,[iv] VET,[v] TVET,[vi] TVSD,[vii] EFA,[viii] etc.). The point is that while TVET programs and policies are discussed, while developing countries manage to achieve better rates of economic growth and (sometimes) get the financial resources needed, while high levels of poverty will remain with us for several decades, and while training programs carried out by public organizations, NGOs and international cooperation agencies have (often) poor and isolated impacts on deprived people’s everyday living conditions, in many countries, very large proportions of the population remain strongly in need of programs that can offer them alternative means to have access to the world of work and improve their quality of life.
In this light it is difficult not to be sceptical about the international aims that are repeatedly set for education. Goals set (e.g. EFA goals, Millennium Development Goals) are continually pushed back and many of us wonder if they will ever be achieved if present strategies continue in place. It is a matter not only of aims, but also of socio-economic situations and processes that clearly require different strategic approaches depending on each country’s particular conditions and possibilities, above all in the case of developing economies.
Our argument is that many programs have had a serious impact on sectors of the population that live in poverty areas, and have left many lessons. Clearly the evaluation yardsticks go beyond productivity and efficiency notions (i.e rates of work insertions) that fall within the economic development paradigm. TVET programs can have meaningful effects in vulnerable areas, as long as we conceive of different notions of what can be understood as impact or quality. There are many social –and economic- impacts that are underrated when implementing and evaluating programs in these areas. Our point is that quality of TVET (its relevance) is referred to by the extent people in vulnerable areas can make the best out of it in terms of promoting their productive capacities and improving their socio-economic conditions / quality of life.
In underprivileged sectors, concepts such as work and employability have connotations of their own. While the formal labour market formulates specific demands to the educational system, in the informal sector, work is very much more linked to everyday living conditions of people in this sector.
Seen in this light, TVET is more closely aligned with productive activities –sometimes survival strategies- or with those which are doable and result from the nature of their contexts, than to the need to train in order to satisfy the demand of a formal market or respond to the exigencies of technological development as dictated by modernity (Pieck, 1999).
Examples in many countries abound of programs that have developed successful strategies for enabling low-income populations to gain entry to the world of work; strategies that have reinforced the local economy, and have generated new forms of participation. Such lessons are concerned with the need to have a social focus when addressing TVET programs in developing countries, a focus which is very much at odds with the prevailing tendency.
What and why do we wait for if we already have a considerable amount of evidence showing that when appropriately high-quality skills development programs are implemented in vulnerable areas, they can have a positive impact on people’s educational progress, and also on the socio-economic development of their communities?
In a context marked by globalization and technological development, work takes pre-eminence over employment; in underprivileged sectors it implies the need to master skills which take into account the diversity of work spaces as they occur in everyday living. Therefore there is a need to have an on-the-job focus and respond to the specific training needs that follow from the various problems associated with these modest business undertakings (i.e low-income women looking for organizational and financial assistance). In a large number of cases, these represent survival strategies of vast sectors of the population living in deprived areas and predominantly active in the informal sector. While many small economic ventures are not likely to hold off unemployment, nor they are going to generate big enterprises, they will open spaces of social participation, and offer people genuine avenues to live their civic lives in a different way.
All this requires moving beyond work market demands and giving greater attention to people’s needs in the small communities and local areas. There is an urgent need to have an effective pro-poor TVET policy with a special focus on addressing people’s economic needs and productive activities in vulnerable areas. We already know how to do it. What and why are we waiting for?
Reference
Pieck, E. (1999) Work-oriented Education for Youth and Adults. The Major Project of Education. Bulletin 50. Santiago, Chile: OREALC-UNESCO
Dr Enrique Pieck is an academic researcher at the Institute for the Development of Education of the Iberoamerican University in Mexico (INIDE-UIA). His main research interest is on TVET in vulnerable areas in developing countries. Email: enrique.pieck@ibero.mx
[i] Skills development
[ii] Global monitoring report
[iii] Human rights based-approach
[iv] Human development capability approach
[v] Vocational education and training
[vi] Technical and vocational education and training
[vii] Technical and vocational skills development
[viii] Education for all
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14 de mayo de 2015

¿Qué hace falta para tomar decisiones? Milenio Diario 7 Campus - Marisol Silva Laya. INIDE-UIA

La articulación entre la generación de conocimiento y la hechura de políticas educativas es una aspiración de larga data; sin embargo, en muchos contextos aún se registra una ancha brecha entre ambos, no sólo en México o en América Latina, también en sociedades más desarrolladas. Un reporte del Northwestern Regional Education Laboratory revela que en Estados Unidos la información que proviene de la investigación es poco tomada en cuenta por los tomadores de decisión y quienes las ponen en marcha. En México esta situación ha sido rigurosamente documentada.
        Se reconoce que el impacto del conocimiento en la gestión de los sistemas educativos pasa por un conjunto de dinámicas que lo convierten en un fenómeno complejo. Retomo dos de éstas analizadas por Muñoz Izquierdo (2004): la científica que exige procesos que aseguren la validez de los conocimientos generados por la investigación y que nutrirán la formulación de políticas y la política que implica que las autoridades tengan acceso y comprendan la información generada y la pongan al alcance de todas las audiencias para su comprensión y su uso. Parece sensato afirmar que el dato por sí solo no provoca el cambio y las decisiones políticas sin fundamento en evidencias tampoco. El mejoramiento de los sistemas educativos exige, por tanto, procesos de mediación y diálogo que conduzcan a la definición e implementación de cursos de acción.
        En este marco, resulta promisoria la iniciativa del Colegio de Bachilleres de la Zona Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México cuya titular, Sylvia Ortega, ha impulsado la realización de investigaciones sobre los principales problemas que aquejan a su comunidad y gestionado los espacios de diálogo entre investigadores, autoridades y personal docente con distintas responsabilidades. Muestra de ello fue el seminario sobre “La desafiliación escolar y la formación por competencias en el Colegio de Bachilleres” realizado el pasado 30 de abril, en el que se convocó a más de 300 miembros de la comunidad para conocer y discutir los resultados de investigaciones coordinadas por académicos de la Ibero, del Colmex y de la UNAM, así como de un diagnóstico de este nivel educativo que presentó el subsecretario de educación media superior, Rodolfo Tuirán.
        Las investigaciones reiteran y abundan sobre los graves problemas de desafiliación —deserción o abandono— (23.6 por ciento diez puntos arriba del promedio nacional) y de logros de aprendizaje insatisfactorios que afectan al Colbach. Desde una combinación de métodos cuantitativos y cualitativos, se identificaron los factores de riesgos y las condiciones en las que se gesta el abandono escolar y se profundizó en los significados que tiene la escuela para los jóvenes. Por otra parte, se detectaron las principales dificultades enfrentadas en los procesos de enseñanza y de aprendizaje para fomentar el desarrollo de las competencias (genéricas, comunicativas y matemáticas) que son esenciales para que los estudiantes tengan un desempeño adecuado en su entorno. La comunidad reconoce fortalezas y debilidades y se vislumbran retos impostergables, entre ellos: adecuar el currículo a las necesidades de la sociedad, y especialmente a las condiciones socioeconómicas y culturales de las población juvenil atendida; instrumentar mecanismos de apoyo y acompañamiento a los estudiantes para favorecer la retención; transformar la práctica docente mediante la capacitación efectiva, la reflexión crítica, el trabajo colegiado e interdisciplinario y fomentar el sentido de pertenencia a la comunidad.
        Como suele ocurrir se presentó información “ya conocida” empíricamente, pero se constató con métodos rigurosos; también se brindaron nuevas explicaciones e interpretaciones a partir de las preocupaciones y percepciones de la comunidad. Se sugirieron algunos cursos de acción. Faltan los “cómos”. Es ahora cuando se hace imprescindible sintonizar las distintas dinámicas aludidas. Es el momento adecuado para favorecer los espacios de diálogo sostenidos entre diferentes actores —incluidos los estudiantes—, de análisis crítico, de pensamiento creativo y de toma de decisiones participativas, de vencer resistencias e inercias y de anteponer el bien común. Ojalá que de esta experiencia salga fortalecida esta opción educativa que, al menos para 100 mil jóvenes de la Zona Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, constituye la única posibilidad de ejercer su derecho a la educación.