A review of technical education and vocational training in Zambia: Enhancing the role of social partners
Francis Mulimbika, Dr. Asif Mahbub Karim
Education and training are critical to efforts aimed at achieving the 2030 Agenda, emphasised by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which seeks to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. However, UNESCO has identified the lack of capacity and effective partnerships, among role players, as an important challenge faced by many countries in their quest to make technical education and vocational training deliver desired impacts; partnerships across governments and between agents and institutions involved in TVET at national and local levels. The author shares in this hypothesis and that indeed many countries, including Zambia, his native country, are ensnared in this problem of poor partnerships. Therefore, this paper traces the transformational trajectory of vocational education and technical training in Zambia, focusing on the role of social partners, from pre-colonial times to contemporary practice; making reference to international good practices, with Dutch system being highlighted as case study and further insights drawn from the perspectives of international bodies concerned with human development and skills development in particular, the International Labour Organisation and UNESCO. Zambia is best known for its robust mining industry, it amongst the top 10 largest global copper producers. Increased mining activities brought about new demands in terms of labour, services and products in turn creating a pull factor for the emergence of other support sectors such as manufacturing and commerce and agriculture, particularly along the line of rail. Thus, the mining industry has been a major catalyst in charting the economic traction and development of the country. However, the country was ill equipped in terms of skilled human resources at independence, in 1964, prompting government to undertake a number of educational reforms, particularly pertaining to vocational education and training, hence forth. Despite this effort, TVET has not performed to expectation; one major contributing factor is the lack of cohesion among employers concerned.