Education system lab (ILab) launched in Kathmandu University School of Education

The Swiss government's Backstopping and Learning for the Quality Project funds the iLab. Switzerland has remained an innovative knowledge partner of Nepal in TVET sector.

Krishna Sapkota

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: The Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED), in cahoots with CEMETS at ETH Zurich, has launched the Technical Vocational Education and Training System Implementation Lab (iLab) amidst a function in the capital.

The iLab is an innovative learning platform established by a consortium of KUSOED and ETH Zurich’s Chair of Education System (CeS) to produce TVET reform leaders in Nepal.

At the opening event of the lab program, member of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Ramesh Chandra Paudel, the chief guest, urged the academic institutions to design and deliver training and courses to transform the process involved in acquiring skills and knowledge to results. “A systematic practice of keeping records of the process is indispensable to preserve the hard-earned indigenous skills, designs and crafts,” he said.

In view of formulating the 16th periodic national plan, the NPC has advanced its preparation to generate sector-wide data to know gaps of skilled human resource in job market and design evidence-based policy to address the issue in a holistic way, he noted, while delivering his thoughts on the topic ‘Making TVET more relevant to the need of society’.

“NPC has developed a web-based system to generate periodic data and information from diverse employment sectors to assess their need for skilled human capital. Based on the evidence-based need, we will formulate a guideline and instruct the training/academic institutions to produce human resources to match job market demands”, he said, adding it would in a way bring win-win results for entrepreneurs, academic institutions and employees.

Delivering his remarks on the topic ‘Educational innovations in KU’, Vice Chancellor of the Kathmandu University (KU) Prof Dr Bhola Thapa shared that the KU was working with its dream project to run customized programs /courses in foreign countries taking into consideration the need of Nepali migrant workers and students.

Thapa highlighted the need of adopting multi-entries and multi-exits strategy as well as accumulation of credits system in education to create environment for learning and accreditation. “KU is working to bring the indigenous skills, knowledge and systems transferred from one to another generation to the educational mainstream”, he said, calling for the academic institutions to redesign approach in a way to retain attraction of new generation amid the emerging challenges exacerbated by Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT.

Also speaking on the occasion, Vice Chair of the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), Khagendra Adhikari said the Council was working to formulate its policies to align the national and international context and job market need for quality TVET. “We are zooming in our efforts to bring reforms in the examination system, standards-based skill testing and assessment, demand-based curriculum, teacher licensing, apprenticeship linking job industry and the training institute and partnership with private sector. The thrust is to contribute to the quality education by expanding quality education”, he noted while speaking on the topic ‘CTEVT efforts to enhance TVET quality’.

On the topic ‘Socio-economic values of TVET’, Registrar at the Kathmandu University (KU), Prof Dr Achyut Wagle said the TVET should also sensitize its practitioners for soft skills capable to advance overall societal integration being not limited to the hard skills. “Mere technical education does not connect the people with society. So, the participants should be educated with soft skills as well for business management, market management and social integration”.

Putting his remarks on the topic ‘SDC support to enhance TVET quality in Nepal,’ Charge de Affairs of the Swiss Embassy in Kathmandu, Matthias Meir said iLab was a unique opportunity to build further capacity of the reform leaders, TVET professionals, and business sectors in Nepal. “Through this platform, the participants will acquire the research-based knowledge and practical inputs from the national and international experts. The content and the practical cases discussed in this platform will help to further enhance your understanding and practical skills in the TVET sector”.

Addressing gender and social inclusion (GESI) in the TVET sector was equally important, he stressed, adding carefully designed programs focusing on the reduction of such barriers to access the TVET program will address the GESI issues in TVET sector and iLab to this effect can be a good platform to discuss such issues and develop strategies to address the issues.

KUSOED Dean, Prof Bal Chandra Luitel delivering his remarks on the topic ‘Vision, plans and activities of the School’, said KUSOED has been exerting its efforts to produce competent teachers, instructors and educators in TVET sector being aware of the dearth of the human resource in generating skilled human resource in the field. “There are approximately 70,000 students in technical vocational education and training stream across the country. But, there is no adequate number of education planner, curriculum developers and teachers in the technical field,” he said.

On the topic ‘Employers role in developing quality TVET’, Chairperson of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), Binayak Shah said there were no skilled human resources in the job market to match the needs of entrepreneurs and employers. “The human resources, being produced by the academic and training institutions in Nepal, are theoretically aware but do not possess working skills”, he said, adding, “The human resources we are producing now are not for the domestic market but for foreign job market. After becoming skilled here, most of the taught and trained human resource move to the foreign country”.

He called for policy-makers and authorities to revisit policies governing production of skilled human resources with inputs from employers and other concerned stakeholders which he claimed would somehow check the current exodus of the youthful resources outside.

On the topic ‘Backstopping and Learning Project and Education System Lab Nepal’, iLab Project Coordinator and former Dean of KUSOED, Prof Mahesh Nath Parajuli said, “The initiatives of local governments attach special importance in advancing education sector, including TVET in line with the constitutional mandate”. He said the recent initiatives of KUSOED, including eight-year dedicated iLab project and ongoing creation of its robust database containing information about stakeholders will emphatically prepare a solid base for developing the federal model of TVET which will also be a reference for the international community of practice of the sector.

Total of 54 selected participants– 33 male and 21 female –from diverse fields representing five provinces of the country participated in the two-day physical session on July 23-24 as part of first iLab series which will continue till December 2023.

The government of Nepal has recently endorsed a TVET sector strategic plan (TSSP), which is an important milestone in the reform initiative. The reform agenda foreseen by the team is aligned with the TSSP vision and strategies. The Swiss government’s Backstopping and Learning for the Quality Project (B&L) funds the iLab as one of its initiatives. Switzerland has accompanied the progress of the TVET sector since 1961 and has remained an innovative knowledge partner of Nepal in the sector.