IT HAS long been recognised by educationists that some students are academically/intellectually inclined while others are more bent on technical education by virtue of desire or aptitude or both. Unfortunately, the older education system was geared towards academic training and hardly catered for technical education which was a mere incidental of the overall system.
This was so because of many reasons including culture, value systems, the political and class structure of society and the sociological evolution of society.
However, this situation changed dramatically with the coming of the Industrial Revolution which created the pre-conditions for the demand of huge numbers of highly skilled people in the various technological fields and gradually, especially in the industrialised world, technical education became an integral component of education systems.
Today, technical education is being given special prominence and focus in most countries because it has become universally recognised and accepted that it is no longer an option, but an imperative in order to cope with the increasing demand for technological skills.
As Waseem Haider of Karachi University notes: “No nation could make progress unless it promotes technical aspects in all fields.”
For a long time in Guyana, technical education was largely neglected. Perhaps the education system evolved out of the traditional academic biased type as well as for historical and cultural reasons.
However, in recent years, the government, in recognition of the importance of technical education to socio-economic development and through the Ministry of Education, has been moving swiftly towards intensifying and expanding technical education.
One of the first moves in this direction was the establishment of technical institutes in the rural communities with one already completed at Skeldon while others are under construction at Leonora on the West Coast Demerara and Mahaicony on the East Coast Demerara. Plans are also in train to build others in several other communities.
The Education Ministry has also embarked on a specific technical education programme for schools in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank.
Of course, the benefits of these initiatives will not be seen overnight but rather will bring long-term rewards.
However, it was encouraging to hear from Education Minister Shaik Baksh that technical/vocational programmes in schools are beginning to achieve their purpose.
“Reports I have received, about students pursuing vocational education, is that they are no longer dropping out,” the minister reported.
He also said that there will be changes in the delivery of technical and vocational education, with attention being placed on the issuance of learning packages to students to promote open and distance learning.
The changes, which are expected to be implemented next year, will go a step further in satisfying the ministry’s quest to cater for the varying and individual needs of learners and prepare them for the world of work, Mr. Baksh said.
From all indications therefore, it seems that technical education is set for takeoff and this certainly will bring immense benefits to the education system and the socio-economic advancement of this country.