1. INTRODUCTION Asia and the Pacific, a region of diverse geography, economy and demography, is at the forefront of globalization. For the past four decades, the region enjoyed rapid economic growth with East Asia sub-region taking the head start and South Asia visibly catching up. In addition, the economies of some countries specialize in high-technology industries and are increasingly developing new information and communication technologies. Employment opportunities, in both the formal and informal economies, are provided in almost all of its sub-regions.
Despite being the most dynamic region in the world, many of its developing countries are not making remarkable progress. Such situation has led to inequality, inequity and imbalance – in terms of income structure, poverty, and jobs. In addition, the environment continues to be degraded with loss of biodiversity, deforestation, soil deterioration, and pollution. While there had been substantial efforts undertaken, the Asia Pacific region is still faced with the immense challenge of improving their capacity for sustainable development.
To address these challenges, Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action pursued globally, nationally and locally by UN organizations, governments, and major groups, was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil in 1992. Chapter 36 (36.12) calls for education, public awareness and training as the most important tools to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable world.
In 2002, a Resolution was passed by the United Nations General Assembly adopting the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) with UNESCO as the lead agency for its promotion. ESD envisions a world where every person has the chance to benefit from educational opportunities and to learn the lifestyles, behaviors and values necessary to create a sustainable future.
In 2004, TVET for Sustainable Development was considered during the UNESCO international experts meeting in "Learning for Work, Citizenship and Sustainability", hosted in Bonn, Germany. It was contended that since education is considered the key to effective development strategies, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) must be the master key that can alleviate poverty, promote peace, conserve the environment, improve the quality of life for all and help achieve sustainable development. With this, TVET has to re-orient its agenda for action so as to continually provide scientific and technical skills in relevant and responsive programs, and consequentially develop a new generation of human resources.
Agenda 21, ESD and TVET for SD constitute the foundation underpinning the efforts of international organizations to develop workable criteria and benchmark “best practices” in achieving sustainable development through TVET. Sustainable development requires three cornerstones: economic, to provide adequate and fair standard living for all; social, to develop institutions that promote values, practices and relationships that can sustain everyone equally; and ecological, to stay within the carrying capacity of the planet.
Acting in this spirit, a wide array of actions had been undertaken by international organizations based in the region. Notwithstanding the accomplishments of others, it is recognized that many still needs to be done. This paper presents an overview of the experiences on how some international organizations have cooperated in carrying out an integrated and coordinated approach in promoting TVET for SD.
II. THE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS Four (4) partner organizations dovetail their sustainable development efforts, as they have more or less similar member states, purposes and interests. The Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education (CPSC) in the Philippines, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) in Japan, Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the member state concerned, and Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) in the Philippines jointly cooperated and collaborated through networking, technical cooperation and capability building and training. They worked with the central TVET agency in the member states to form a coherent platform for planning, implementation and evaluation of their TVET systems.
As a specialized agency of the Colombo Plan Systems, the Colombo Plan Staff College for Tecnician Education (CPSC) is mandated to enhance the quality of (TEVT) in its member countries through the planning and implementation of demand-driven training programs; research and development, information dissemination and consultancy activities in Asia and the Pacific region. CPSC has become a vibrant forum in facilitating the improvement of TVET systems among its member countries by enhancing the spirit of continuous learning, professional work ethics and values, networking and partnership with industry and other organizations.
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), the training arm of the ADB, was established in 1997 in Tokyo, Japan. ADBI aims to help build capacity, skills, and knowledge related to poverty reduction and other areas that support long-term growth and competitiveness in developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region. It covers applied research and policy seminars to disseminate thinking about best practices, and a range of capacity building and training initiatives. It responds to two needs of developing member countries: (a) development management training, and (b) exchange of ideas on policy issues.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is multilateral development finance institution owned by 63 members, 45 from Asia and the Pacific and 18 from other parts of the globe. Its vision is an Asia and Pacific region free of poverty. Its mission is to help our developing member countries reduce poverty and improve their living conditions and quality of life. Established in 1966, ADB pursues a strategic agenda—sustainable economic growth, inclusive social development, and governance for effective policies and institutions—with three crosscutting themes: private sector development, regional cooperation, and environmental sustainability. ADB partners with governments, other international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to assist its developing member countries. ADB serves a very large region, with more than half of the world’s population living in Asia and the Pacific.
The Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) is a Commission established through the CPSC Seoul Declaration of 2004 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. It is mandated to conduct accreditation and certify the corresponding accreditation status earned among technical education institutions in the Asia Pacific. As such, it develops standards, evaluation instruments, processes and protocols for the accreditation process. It also functions to be a source of "good practices" for the promotion of quality in technical and vocational training and education.
III. STRATEGIES AND APPROACHES The complementarity and synergy demonstrated by the partner organizations allow optimization of resources as they are pooled towards one coordinated effort, and thus avoids duplication. In a joint undertaking, the following strategies/approaches were being done:
Advocacy and Vision Building. The partner organizations were actively involved in international and regional meetings, and workshops as organizers, co-organizers or participants. Experiences and case studies were presented to review and update TVET concepts and its emerging challenges to sustainable development. These enlightened policy makers, educators, researchers, experts and government leaders and were given the impetus to conceive of approaches in situating TVET in the development agenda. To some extent, participants came up with project proposals which were assessed for possible funding. Among the international conferences, workshops and expert meetings are: (a) International Conference on Integrating SD Issues into TVET: Poverty Alleviation and Skills for Employability, Citizenship and Conservation (Bangkok, Thailand 10-13 August 2005); (b) International Workshop on Workforce Development for a Knowledge Economy (Seoul, Republic of Korea, 7-13 September 2005); and (c) Experts Meeting on TVET for Sustainable Development – Opportunities and Challenges (Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam 2-5 July 2006)
Further Awareness and Capability Building. To develop awareness among the member states is the first step of reorientation – a process which encompasses more principles, skills, perspectives, and values. It is only when the leaders are aware of the contributions of TVET to sustainable development can there be a position to be reoriented.
As resolute advocates, the partner organizations in collaboration with the TVET agencies of the member states started to conduct meetings to strengthen the local direction-finding capacities of TVET professionals. ADBI initiated a series of workshops that would provide the member countries the opportunity to identify national priorities for infrastructure development.
One meeting, Workforce Development for Implementing Infrastructure Projects, was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 25-31 October 2006 to update skills and knowledge of technical teachers to meet the demands of present learners and employers. The program will be replicated in the other member states making use of CD-ROM lectures after being subjected to a thorough review, revision and evaluation.
The topics of discussion revolved around issues and processes: (a) Workforce Development Policies and Strategies: TVET Reforms in Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka, Workforce Development Policies in Bhutan and Workforce Development and Vocational Education and Training in Lao PDR; (b) Issues and Challenges in Workforce Development: Role of TVET in a Knowledge Based Economy, World Trends and Implications for Sustainable Human Resources Development; (c) Teaching and Learning: Non-Technical Competencies of Technical Teachers, Qualifications, Mentoring Techniques, Theories of Learning; (d) Curriculum Development: Competency-Based Training, Curriculum Development in TVET, Training Methods, Individualized Instruction; (e) ICT in TVET: Integration of ICT in Technical Teacher Training, The Application of Ubiquitous Technology in Education; (e) Quality Assurance: Occupational Standards and Accreditation, Quality-Assured Technical Teacher Training Program, Quality Management in TVET; and (f) Entrepreneurship Development, Gender Development, TVET for Youth Employment, etc.
Training and Learning Activities.While a reorientation of the TVET system is underway in some member states, there is a dramatic shortage of TVET professionals who are capable of designing a sustainable TVET system and utilizing it to their country’s needs. CPSC and ADI, being training institutions, continue to provide training programs, either individually or joint, to strengthen a corps of qualified TVET educators and managers.
Both organizations incorporate the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental - in their programs and activities. ADBI helps member states identify national priorities for poverty reduction and sustainable infrastructure for middle to top level policy makers and officials, while CPSC implements programs of further professional education for TVET educators, teachers and trainers. Both partners ensure, however, that their activities are in consultation with member states and their global partners and network of institutions.
Expansion of Educational Opportunities.The expansion of training and learning opportunities had been addressed using Web-Based Teaching and Learning System (WBTLS) and Distance and Online Learning Courses (DOLC) by CPSC and ADBI, respectively.
CPSC Web-Based Teaching and Learning System. Face to face learning is still considered the best delivery mode, however given the geographical realities of the countries in the region, web-based teaching and learning systems provide an alternative platform. Through this system, CPSC hopes to connect the unconnected countries thereby imparting knowledge to students in distant locations, improving communications and providing updated materials. In addition, the web-based mode allows participants to carry on with the learning tasks even beyond the culmination of the programs.
A total of twenty eight (28) web-based courses have already been developed. CPSC’s web-based development team is composed of the faculty members as content developers, network administrator, web programmer, web designers, multimedia artist and other IT specialists.
2. ADBI Distance and Online Learning Courses. Courses are offered free of charge to government officials and individuals from civil society and the private sector who are committed to poverty reduction. ADBI offers two types of courses: (a) Distance learning with CD-ROMs, based on ADBI-produced CD-ROMS that are mailed to participants. After viewing the CD-ROM lectures, participants complete assignments and join a discussion forum in the online classroom via a Learning Management System. Course administrators assist participants with their studies throughout the duration of the course. (b) Online course, based on lectures by experts and distinguished speakers from ADBI workshops. Courses are administered via an online classroom. Participants download all course materials, complete assignments, and join an e-discussion forum. For this year, a total of four (4) distance learning and three (3) online courses, each with a duration of three months, have already been conducted or are presently being conducted.
Development of Resource Materials for Wide Dissemination. Utilizing information and communication technology as a tool, resource materials are developed and made fully and rapidly accessible to the widest audience as possible. The resource materials, in print and electronic formats, come as: proceedings of training courses, seminars, and workshops; lecture CD-ROMs; reviewed CD-ROMS; online CD-ROM library; papers and presentations posted in the website; and an improved and user-friendly website. In contrast with the traditional resource materials, the information contained are presented in a non-linear manner, giving the viewer the opportunity to search the information and move it in the chosen direction.
Of special interest is the development-oriented CD-ROMSs launched by ADBI as part of its efforts to strengthen its networking and knowledge sharing with developmental organizations in Asia and the Pacific. The objective of the review is to identify the best resource material and consequently support their use in the developing countries in the region. The CD-ROMs were collected through its established partnership networks and independent reviewers were engaged to asses them according to defined rating mechanism. As of date, the online searchable CD-ROM Library has a collection of 496 development-related CD-ROMs produced by other institutions, where 89 covering agriculture, capacity building, economics, education, environment, gender, microfinance, poverty reduction, social development, among others have been reviewed.
Regional Accreditation and Certification.Un-equivalent qualification systems, widely diversified and un-unified nature of TVET accreditation, and a high incidence of un-recognized TVET qualifications are prevalent in many countries in the Asia pacific region. The need for a regional accreditation and certification is imperative to be able to produce qualified workforce, promote harmony of accreditation systems and mutual recognition of qualifications.
In view of the scenario, the CPSC, pursuant to its mandate, convened representatives of sixteen participating member governments who agreed to establish a regional accreditation and certification commission through Seoul Declaration 2004. Named as Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC), the Commission aims to achieve equivalence, harmonization and standardization.
As a regional body, APACC is determined to recognize qualifications and standards among countries thereby facilitating labor force mobility across the region. Moreover, it intends to produce a flexible and well-qualified labor market, one with rich and diversified skills by accrediting and certifying quality TVET institutions. To date, CPSC has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with six (6) Mongolia, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Mentioned countries pledged their commitment to fully support regional accreditation and certification of TVET programs and institutions, to provide human and physical resources to APACC during its initial organizational stages, and to identify the focal office/agency that will work and liaise with APACC in the implementation of its programs, projects and activities.
The APACC has engaged the services of technical experts in the field and gathered relevant people from the representative governments to study, analyze and firm up a set of policies and guidelines that will be applicable to the region. To date, the APACC is now in the process of preparing the final draft of four major accreditation documents: The Accreditation Manual; The Survey Instrument for Technical Education; Handbook for Accreditors; and Regional Skills Standards. In addition, it provided access through the creation of a dedicated APACC website. These documents were devised in consideration of the following: (a) accreditation criteria and standards in consideration of the goals of TVET for sustainable development; (b) accreditation is adjusted to national or vocational qualifications framework; and (c) regional competency standards developed to help the workers increase their marketability and job mobility.
IV. THE NEXT STEPS Determined and resolute, the four organizations continue to broaden their efforts towards developing the workforce and securing the effective operation of a TVET infrastructure that would respond to the three cornerstones of sustainable development.
The next steps to be undertaken are set out as follows:
In response to the growing needs of the member states for training and learning, the partner organizations scale up the conduct of innovative and responsive regular and customized programs and courses more equitably, giving attention to the all dimensions of sustainable development. Suggested topics are in the areas of environmental education, skills for economic productivity, micro-financing, youth development, ageing society, gender mainstreaming, clean and indigenous technology, etc.
To overcome the difficulties of geographical conditions in the region and to share with the member states the benefits of technology, one sub-center for every member state shall be installed. As a server system, the sub-center continues to be equipped with technological infrastructure and further build competencies of our e-teachers and e-facilitators. The sub-center will be an interaction of trained e-teachers and students through cyber-lectures and e-assessment.
Continue developing interactive modules, web-based and CR-ROM-based, related to sustainable development. Crash courses in TVET should be offered through distance learning mode to benefit the disadvantaged by distance and location. Whenever possible, these modules shall be translated in the local dialect for wider dissemination.
Encourage partnership with other international organizations and national TVET agencies/organizations of developed countries, i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea to pool their resources and optimize results towards a unified goal. There should be a shared commitment to develop new and effective initiatives to foster the development of a responsive TVET infrastructure.
Extend invitation to prospective member states to join or renew their membership with the CPSC. Mongolia has been accepted as the 20th CPSC member state. In addition, invitation for the restoration of membership had been extended to the Kingdom of Thailand and Kingdom of Cambodia.
Encourage other member states to support APACC as a recognized regional accreditation commission. Upon the approval of the accreditation criteria and standards, hopefully by next year, APACC shall now start assessing TVET institutions in the region.
Initiate the development of a regional qualifications framework for Asia and the Pacific to facilitate the mobility of learners and workers and to increase the flexibility of the life-long learning process.
V. CONCLUDING REMARKS The move to reorient TVET for SD has begun – sensible interaction among experts like what this Conference provides is paramount. The ventilation of relevant issues and the sharing of experiences and best practices has resonated clearly the theme of this session. I hope that the presentations sustain our hopes that something can be done with our TVET systems, and fortify our determination to do the needed reforms.
As it is presented in this paper, TVET for SD calls for coordinated and cooperative approach to ensure greater and more sustainable returns. Its success depends on every individual/organization performing its proper role in a pro-active manner. As players in the broad TVET arena, the partner organizations are willing to share their resources and utilize them to their fullest in order to serve the member states.
The partner organizations implemented the approaches and strategies of advocacy and vision building, further awareness and capability building, training and learning activities, expansion of educational opportunities, development of resource materials for wide dissemination, and regional accreditation and certification. In addition, they have considered future activities to respond to the growing challenges of sustainable development.
To make tracks, the TVET sector needs more than the sincerity to do the job, rather real champions who have the acumen to identify priorities, strengths and actions on how to sustain them. I call upon UNESCO UNEVOC to continue being the premier agency of TVET in this international community.