OECS Education Ministers and Technocrats on Study Tour of Germany and Netherlands

CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) say a 17-member delegation, including education ministers and senior education stakeholders from the sub-region has ended a two-week study tour of Germany and the Netherlands.

OECstatIt said that the European Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) study tour was funded by the European Union and was specifically tailored for policymakers, technocrats and practitioners involved in shaping educational TVET policies and initiatives.

An OECS statement said that through the tour, delegates were able to obtain a deeper understanding of a practice-oriented approach to TVET and its incorporation into the education systems in Germany and the Netherlands, which both have world-leading TVET systems.

“The leading objective of the study tour was to contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the OECS through a quality education system that enables learners of all ages to reach their fullest potential,  in alignment with the OECS Strategic Priorities  to advance equity and inclusion as well as reinvent the economy, that is, contribute to the transformation of the OECS’ economies to become globally competitive.”

The statement said that this activity contributes to the OECS-Education Sector Strategy 2012-2026: Strategic Imperative VII: Provide opportunities for all learners in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and aligns with the OECS Declaration on Education.

The study tour provided delegates with the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with trainees and employers in order to learn about their perspectives of the dual system which combines classroom education with hands-on apprenticeship.

The delegates visited training centers, schools and enterprises and were able to study the roles of different public and private actors of TVET systems as well as gain insight into the rights, responsibilities and challenges of actors and stakeholders.

Moreover, they were able to discuss various aspects of TVET in particular the financing of TVET with relevant stakeholders and identify challenges and opportunities for TVET policy development, at the national and regional (OECS) level.

Grenada’s Education, Youth, Sports and Culture Minister,  David E. Andrew, said the “understanding of the TVET system in Germany and the Netherlands brings great enlightenment.

“TVET is not a second tier option in education. It responds to and is driven by the labor market. It needs to be more prominently featured in our system. With shared challenges in terms of lack of resources, small population and land space, the OECS has an excellent opportunity to meaningfully collaborate in the development of our TVET programs, systems and strategies across the region.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Education and Reconciliation Minister, Curtis King said ‘this was a tremendous experience. We were afforded opportunities for sharing ideas, best practices, and establishing contacts for future networking initiatives.”

Head of the Human and Social Division, OECS Commission, Mrs. Sisera Simon who was also a member of the delegation, said “TVET will continue to be a priority for the OECS Commission and a critical next step is developing a broad roadmap for TVET with the support of Member States and development partners. ”

Ashma Mc Dougall, a youth representative from Dominica a said the visit has provided an anchor of hope of how the “transformation of our TVET structure can contribute to positive outcomes for youth across the OECS region.”

Programme Manager (Education) Communications Coordinator -Delegation of the European Union, Dr. Stephen Boyce describes six A’s for creating a new TVET experience in the region namely attractiveness, autonomy, allocation, accountability, ambition and accessibility.

The OECS statement said that on their return to the region the education ministers and their technical officers are expected to develop a realistic county-level action plan for implementation of a selected practice observed from the tour.