IDENTIFICATION OF KEY ISSUES FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION DOWNFALL IN SINDH.

Byline: ASHIQUE ALI, DR. M. MOINUDDIN QAZI ABRO and DR. ASIF ALI
SHAH

Abstract

This research investigates the status of technical education in
Sindh by identifying the key issues responsible for its downfall. The
study is based on the interviews and survey questionnaire conducted from
principals, teachers, and students of technical education institutions
mainly located in the vicinity of Hyderabad, Matiari, Hala, and
Nawabshah. At first, the research identified the key sectors responsible
for technical education downfall and then categorized them into three
categories of government policies, academic and administrative
facilities. Various statistical tests such as regression were then
performed to identify the most important factors responsible for
technical education downfall. Finally, the recommendations are provided
at the end to overcome issues responsible for technical education
downfall.

Keywords: Technical Education, TVET, downfall, Policies, Sindh.

Introduction

The basic framework of science education is embedded in nurturing
conceptual thinking, comprehension, concept application ability,
scientific literacy (Khan and Naseer, 2014). Whereas, the technical
education is concerned with the utilization of this knowledge in an
applied manner. It includes teaching for trade, handicraft, and
industry. It aims to groom an individual for a better, happier and
creative life. Advanced countries achieved development through the
efficient utilization of both fields of science andtechnical education.
Usually, technical education is associated with vocational education and
training termed as Technical and Vocational Education and Training
(TVET). Mainly, technical education in corporate post-secondary courses
and practical training focused on developing technicians to perform as
supervisory staff.

Whereas, Vocational Training emphasis on lower-level education and
training for the development of skilled or semi-skilled workforce in
various trades, however, it does not improve the level of their general
educational qualification (Ali, 2006).

This is an era of industrialization and industries require trained
man power for its proper functioning. Education is an investment in the
development of human resources and more so the technical education. It
plays a pivotal role concerning human development through skilled human
resources, better industrial productivity and improved quality of life.
In recent time, a lot of debate being made about the quality and
downfall of the technical education system, but less attention has been
given to improve the technical education system. Although, technical
institutes produce a high volume of associate engineers and B-tech
degree holders every year, however, most of them do not possess required
skills demanded by the industry to perform their job efficiently.
Currently, the Government of Pakistan is keen towards providing the
better physical infrastructure to implement its strategy of expansion
and improvement of technical education.

Multiple initiatives have been undertaken to improve the status of
the technical education system, but still, multiple issues are hindering
the growth of proper technical education system (UNESCO, 2009).

Rasool (2007) identifies that the technical education is facing
downfall due to no proper planning, lesser efficiency and Quality and
its relevance of education with no industry linkages. It is the prime
duty of technical institutions to equip their students with required
skills as per the demand of the industry. This necessitates the regular
up-gradation of the curriculum in line with the latest developments in
the field of science and technology. Regarding improving the status of
technical education, it is mandatory to encourage the institute-industry
linkage by creating awareness, through arranging seminars and
conferences, to build resourceful workforce fully well versed with the
latest technology (Iftikhar, 2004).

Masroor (1999) asserted that technical education suffers from
different issues like competencies, skill standards, update curriculum,
faculty development, and absence of training need analysis. However,
Abassah (2011) identifies lacking in quality assurance, lack of
guidelines for technical education in the context of globalization and
unavailability of scholarships for teachers and students as key reasons
for its downfall. One of the major findings identified by the
researchers for technical education downfall in Pakistan context is the
lack of interaction among technical institutions and industry. This gap
should be filled through industry oriented curriculum design, staff
training, which motivates students to search for opportunities in
industrial sector while ending their course work (Iftikhar, 2004).

The findings of comparative research concerning technical education,
conducted by the UNESCO, with the assistance of NISTE, identified
outdated curriculum design and improper utilization of needed resources
as the key barriers being faced by the technical education.

The standard of technical education must not represent, that how
much students are passed out every year, but it be should represent
through the skills quality of each student. Similarly, the inputs in the
technical education, regarding resources such as buildings, equipment,
and cost of instructional material, which are provided by the government
should be quantified. But the other factors such as the scope of
technical education, the interest of the students and political
interferences, teachers capability and motivation are others factors to
be measured for its improvement (Abassah, 2011).

Technical Education in Pakistan

Constitution of Pakistan provides the mandate for free and mandatory
education. However, the 18th constitutional amendment abolished the
concurrent list comprising of 47 subjects. It subjects, including
education, moved to provinces to enhance their effectiveness (UNESCO,
2009). Various governments have shown their commitment by introducing
policies of education to boost education and literacy. These
policies-consist visions and strategies, which can enhance national
literacy rates required for capacity building. Good quality technical
education needed to be provided to individuals, aiming to achieve
success in practical life. It will promote Pakistan’s positive
image at international level as a significant chunk of technical
workforce serves in neighboring international markets such as UAE and
Saudi Arabia etc. (Ali, 2006).

Technical education in Pakistan is developed in steps by steps. At
independence, it faced numerous issues in the field of Technical
Education. To overcome these challenges, a council of Technical
Education was established in 1948. The primary purpose of this council
is to develop various levels and categories of the technical and
vocational workforce. Currently, National Vocational and Technical
Training Commission (NAVTTC), Islamabad is the top governing unit to
look after the regulatory and policy matters of vocational and technical
training at the national level. Whereas, National Institute of Science
and Technical Education (NISTE) established to provide TVET education
guidelines at the federal level. Developing countries and the
international community, now a day pay considerable attention to TVET
for its role in national development.

Since Pakistan is home to large population of young citizens, which
are not being enrolled in any formal schooling system, the merger of
non-formal learning project with national education programs is required
to engage this youth. TVET programs and institutions are the key
factors, which can make this possible. Many policies in this regard were
formulated, but few were implemented. This resulted in lesser importance
on the technical education in Pakistan. Meanwhile, various steps were
taken for technical education rise in Pakistan including the educational
plans at different levels. Currently, National Skill Strategy
(2009-2013) is the primary policy document through which federal
government is aligning its action to enhance the role of TVET in
Pakistan.

It is based on three objectives, which are identified to overcome
TVET downfall in Pakistan i.e. (I) to offer required skills needed for
industrial and economic growth (ii) enhancing access, and employability
and (iii) sustaining quality. The undertaken research is unique in
nature as it tries to investigate the impact of above strategy by
identifying the present issues hampering the technical education
downfall by conducting a case study of Sindh’s TVET institutions.
The details of TVET institutions established in Pakistan are given in
Table 1.

Table 1. TVET Institutions in Pakistan

Area###Public Sector###Private Sector###Total

Punjab Province###620###1197###1817

Sindh Province###307###278###585

Khyber Pakhtun khwa###70###529###599

Baluchistan Province###36###89###125

GilgitABaltistan###26###149###175

Azad Jammu Kashmir###48###66###114

FATA###33###28###61

ICT###37###66###103

###Total###1177###2404###3581

Technical Education in Sindh

From the government of India Act of 1935 up to constitution of 1962,
the policy of education always remained a provincial subject. 1973
constitution first time puts education policy on the concurrent
legislative list. In the early seventies, Agro-tech scheme was
introduced in the country and workshops and labs were established in
various selected secondary schools. On failure of this scheme, the Sindh
Province had introduced a new scheme known as Technical School
Certificate-TSC (UNESCO, 2009). Later through 18th amendment education
became the responsibility of provincial government. But, still, a trust
deficit between the federal and provincial governments and lack of
preparation of provincial governments is hampering the progress of
technical education.

In the past, TVET in Sindh was functioning in fragments under
various authorities such as Education, Labor, and Social Welfare
Department. This resulted in its weaker progress towards achieving its
national and international demands of the labor market. To address this
issue, Government of Sindh has undertaken multiple initiatives to
improve technical education, addressing the issues of inadequate
infrastructure in the major one. Assistance is also being availed from
the various international organizations for improving the technical
education system. In this regard, despite taking various efforts yet
desired performance of technical education has not achieved.

For TVET, different courses are being offered in Sindh. The most
common are three-year Diploma of Associate Engineer (DAE). DAE are
running in different technologies which include Chemical Technology,
Civil Technology, Mechanical Technology, Electronics Technology,
Electrical Technology, Computer, and Information Technology, Petroleum
Technology. Whereas, another stream i.e. Bachelor of Technology (B-TECH)
a four years degree program is also offered in Civil Technology,
Mechanical and Electrical Technology. There are different types of TVET
institutes working in Sindh (figure 1). These include GCT (Government
Colleges of Technology), GPI (Government Polytechnic Institutes), GMI
(Government Mono Technical Institutes), etc. But most of the
technologies are lacking admission.

Although regarding improving the status of the technical and
vocational education system, the government of Sindh, in 2009 has
launched autonomous body i.e. Sindh Technical Educationand Vocational
Training Authority (STEVTA). However, much work needed to be done on a
priority basis to eliminate the fundamental causes of technical
education downfall.

Research Objectives

There are multiple problems which embrace Technical Education in
Sindh. For instance, reduced admission and lower employability of the
diploma holders and graduates of technical institutes of Sindh in
domestic and International markets are some of the indicators for its
downfall. Drawn from the above issues, the main research question of
this study is “what are the key issues concerning the downfall of
the Technical Education in Sindh?

Therefore, the research objectives of this study are:

* To identify the key factors concerning the downfall of technical
education in Sindh.

* To examine the student’s issues concerning the downfall of
technical education in Sindh.

* To propose policy measure to improve the technical education in
Sindh.

Research Methodology

To address the proposed research question and to achieve the
research objectives both qualitative and quantitative approaches were
adopted. Initially, main factors of the downfall of technical education
in Sindh were drawn from the relevant literature and later interviews
were taken from experts of technical education to pinpoint main issues
responsible for technical education downfall. Thus, three main
categories were developed pertinent to government policies, regulatory
elements along with educational facilities. Furthermore, a survey
questionnaire designed based upon identified three sections (Table.2).
The first part of the study questionnaire contained statements for
government policies. The second section consists of questions related to
administrative facilities and the third contained questions for academic
facilities. All are measured on five-point Liker-scale items. The
following liker-scale ranges were constructed: 5=Strongly Agree;
4=Agree; 3= Undecided; 2=Disagree; and 1=Strongly Disagree.

Table 2. Survey Questionnaire

Q.####Issues

###Government Policies

01 Is the scope of technical education is properly elaborated

02 Are adequate number of Industries being available for gainful
employment

###Administrative Facilities

03 Career and counseling advisers available in institutes, in terms
of selecting best possible career at the end of degree completion.

04 Admission System is satisfactory for getting admission

05 The conduct of Seminars, conferences, and workshops at your
institute

###Academic Facilities

06 Physical infrastructure (such as class room facilities,
equipment, and building) is adequate at your institute

07 Well trained human resource (such as Instructor, Principals, and
office staff) is present, who have expertise in their field

08 Adequate learning resources (such as Text books, Guides, manuals,
and the Internet) are present in your Institute

To identify students’ viewpoint regarding the hurdles in
technical education, a random sample of 135 students was drawn from
various institutes (See Table 3). The survey questionnaire was
administered to 135 students, and 100 completed questionnaires were
received back, generating the response rate of 74% (See Table 3). The
collated data were analyzed through SPSS version 20.0, to conduct Linear
Logistic Regression method.

Table 3. The Distribution of Survey Participants

###Questionnaire###Questionnaire

S####Institute Name

###Administered###Returned

1 Govt. College of Technology Hyd.###50###44

2 Govt. Monotechnic Institute Pretabad, Hyd.###24###21

3 Govt. Monotechnic Institute Latifabad, Hyd.###16###9

4 Govt. Monotechnic Institute Hala###15###10

5 Govt. Polytechnic Institute Matiari###11###6

6 Govt. Habib College of Technology, Nawabshah###19###10

###Total###135###100

Research Findings

Drawn from the literature and interviews taken from the relevant
expertise i.e. principals, teachers working in TVET institutes,
following factors were highlighted concerning the downfall of technical
education in Sindh.

* Less awareness regarding the Technical Education’s Scope

* Thinness of Industrial Sector

* Lack of Seminars, Conferences, etc.

* Unavailability of career counseling

* Admission System

* Physical infrastructure

* Learning facilities

* Human Resource

The Above issues, identified are further categorized into various
classifications in the light of literature.

1 Government Policy Framework

Less awareness regarding the Technical Education’s Scope

Thinness of Industrial Sector

2 Administrative Activities

Lack of Seminars, Conferences, etc.

Unavailability of career counseling

Admission System

3 Academic Environments

Physical Infrastructure

Learning facilities

1. Government Policy Framework

Technical education plays a pivotal role in developing the nation
(Abassah, 2011). As per data collected most of the students are agreed
with the fact that the technical education scope is well defined. But,
still, the country is facing serious problems regarding the shortage of
industries in Sindh. A larger population (74%) has not shown agreement
with the statement “Are sufficient amount of Industries are present
for employment opportunities. “The findings indicate that students
perceive that the shortage of industrial exposure is one of the leading
causes concerning the downfall of technical education in Sindh.
Moreover, students showed grave concern pertinent to limited relevant
industries, in which they can get gainful employment in their
appropriate technologies

2. Administrative activities

Career counseling is a mechanism that facilitates an individual for
self-assessment and assessment of multiple opportunities to build the
career by making personal and professional decisions. Primarily, career
development does not only relate to the choice of the main subjects, but
it also provides guidelines concerning future employment. Once again,
the majority of the respondent (69%) strongly disagrees with the fact
that career advice is present in technical educational institutes of
Sindh. Since career counseling incorporates multiple professional
activities pertinent to provide needed support to people towards their
career-related challenges. This study found that due to lack of career
counseling activities at technical educational institutes, students
perceive that they are unable to select particular technology regarding
gaining decent employment.

Similarly, for the question “admission system is satisfactory
for getting admission” highest numbers of stakeholders also
disagree with the admission system (46%) due to which less admission
intake took place. Whereas, (57%) of stakeholders are disagreeing with
the question that “seminars, conferences, and workshop are
organized at your Institute Seminars, conferences and workshops are
being held at Institute of technical education. “The issue of
dearth of arranging interactive activities such as seminars, workshops
and conference appeared as one of core problems pertinent to the
downfall of technical education in Sindh. In this regard, students of
TVET institutes perceive that they hardly get any chance to attend
important seminar or conference to enhance awareness pertinent to
significance technical education. Thus, they fail in getting any
orientation concerning with modern technologies.

3. Academic Environment

Most stakeholders (57%) disagree with “Physical infrastructure
(such as class room facilities, equipment, and building) is adequate at
TVET institutes. Highest numbers of stakeholders i.e. 62% disagree with
the statement of “well trained human resource (such as Instructor,
Principals, and office staff) is present, which have expertise in their
field”. Primarily, students perceived that the government expressed
less interest concerning the appointment of the skilled labor force.
Students seemed dissatisfied concerning the status of demand for the
human resource. Most of the staff in technical institutes appeared
indifferent towards the adoption of latest technology. Students perceive
that small volume of skilled labor force causes a serious threat to
technical education in Sindh. 43% of stakeholders are disagreeing
pertinent to the availability of learning facilities in their institutes
regarding text books, study guides, and internet availability.

Whereas, some studies pointed out that the available infrastructure
of technical education if utilized efficiently and intelligently can
play a significant role in sustainable development. Technical education
infrastructure can be used to promote the concept of sustainable
development through the introduction of courses dealing with renewable
energy technologies (Shah, et al., 2011).

Identification of the Most Critical Issues

To know the likeliness of model fit, all study variables were
analyzed through regression test. The relevant findings are summed up in
Table 4. Each variable was analyzed separately by running individual
tests for all values of Wald, as its greatest benefits. Overall, the
value of a dependent variable in the model (defined as 1 for Down fall
and 0 for no downfall of technical education), reported statistically
significant values.

Table 4. Detailed Influential Variables

Variable###B###S.E###Wald###sig

Narrow Industrial Sector###1.500###.476###9.925###002

Career counseling###1.169###.392###8.883 .003

Seminars, workshop and Conferences###1.710###.527###6.376 .012

Human Resources###1.710###.709###5.815 .016

Admission System###1.353###.740###3.343 .067

Awareness regarding scope of Technical
Education###1.131###.540###4.387 .036

Learning facilities###1.286###.728###3.116 .078

Physical infrastructure###-.122###.359###0.116 .734

Constant###-4.624 2.018###5.252 .022

As per above table findings, it is visible that the topmost
important parameter, which students considered for the technical
education downfall is lack of industries, followed by absence of career
counseling services, awareness creation regarding updated information in
technology through seminars and conferences, unavailability of qualified
manpower, process of getting admission, scope of technical education,
availability of learning and Physical Resources.To improve the TVET in
Sindh, following recommendations are made.

Discussion and Conclusion

Based on the results drawn above, following conclusions are emerged
after through discussion on findings:

1. The study findings demonstrate that Government should encourage
expansion of multiple industries in each District. Different incentives
should be offered to small scale industries to generate more
opportunities for potential future graduates.

2. More emphasis should be placed on the provision of career
counseling services at Technical Institutes through opening relevant
centers, at least one in each district.

3. The study findings revealed that the low volume of conducting
interactive activities such as seminars, conferences, and workshops
appeared one of the main problems concerning the downfall of technical
education in Sindh. This refers that Government should take concrete
efforts to arrange seminars, conferences, and workshop in each
institute, that could enable the student to be familiar with the latest
technology through upgrading their skills to cope up with future
challenges.

4. The dearth of skilled labor force appeared one of the key reasons
concerning the downfall of technical education. This reflects that
Government should put reasonable efforts to appoint professionally
qualified personnel in technical educational Institutes. To enhance the
professional development of employees, there is a need to provide them
in-service training to polish their skills and competencies.

5. More funds needed to upgrade and expand vocational programs.
Quality assurance must remain the core objective in its
implementation.

6. The government should take more efforts to enhance employers and
private sector’s participation in funding and extension of
vocational education and training. The quality standards adoption needs
to be addressed on priority basis. This study revealed that employers
emphasized on ensuring higher quality standards for vocational
programs.

7. Both educators, as well as employers, perceive that that feedback
from the public and private sector advisory committees is of utmost
importance pertinent to improving vocational education and training
systems. Similarly, educators and employers were in support of technical
exchanges between vocational institutions and business/ industry. This
reflects that a paradigm shift can enhance collaboration and
partnerships between institutes and business/ industry to achieve the
advancement in industrial performance.

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