Youth Nonformal Vocational and Technical Education

1 January 2017

In 1974 the Ministry of Education developed nonformal vocational programs to serve out-of-school youths and adults. In respect of policy measures and institutional reforms, the purpose of adult/youth and nonformal education is to provide an opportunity to those who were unable to avail themselves of formal educational opportunities.

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The objective is to provide vocational training, along with basic literacy and numeracy skills, so that each individual can participate and contribute more effectively to his/her well-being, and to society. Such adult/youth and nonformal vocational technical education is conducted on a nonformal basis through programs offered by Rural Education Centers, School of Appropriate Farm Technology, Manzini Industrial Training Center, to name a few.

The following comprise some of the major adult/youth nonformal vocational and technical education training centers. Manzini Industrial Training Center-Emakhonweni As a result of the pressing need for vocational and technical skills training as an alternative form of education, Manzini Industrial Training Center (MITC) was established with the aim of giving its trainees useful and practical skills in a trade or craft which may help them find a job upon completion.

The MITC provides skills training for unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 25 years. These are out-of-school youth who are at risk. Fundamental to the program is the acquisition of basic vocational skills which will enable a young person to earn his/her own living whether by self- or waged employment. In most of the courses offered at the Center, upon completion of the two year course in basic skills, the trainees take the relevant Swaziland Government Trade Test-Grade III with the intention of going on to Government Trade Test level-Grade II.

This enables those who have not had the opportunity to complete high school (grade 12) to obtain a qualification which is recognized for pay purposes, in the wage employment sector. However, for those trainees whose desire is to become self-employed, they can apply for placement in the Business Management Extension Program (BMEP), a one year course which offers facilities and training, under the “sheltered workshop concept,” to prospective entrepreneurs. The MITC has an enrollment of over 200 trainees receiving skills training in 13 reas.

Agriculture, Sewing, and Upholstery are one year courses in duration whereas Building, Carpentry, Electrical, Metal Work, Motor Mechanics, Plumbing, Printing, Panel Beating, Small Engine Repair, and Spray Painting are two years in duration. The approach employed in the training utilizes a combination of on the job training and theory lectures. Remaining as the principal training approach is “Training through production” (Manzini Industrial Training Center, Annual Report 1990/91).

Business Management Extension Program In 1986 the management of Manzini Industrial Training Center (MITC) established the Business Management Extension Program (BMEP). BMEP is an indigenous small enterprise development project set up to combat the problem of unemployed youth who have already acquired vocational technical skills. With a grant from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an administration building, warehouse, and eight workshops were built.

BMEP is a unique institution in Swaziland that fills a specific niche: training and technical assistance for small and microbusinesses and the development of new enterprises (Gamedze, 1993, Personal interview). BMEP’s mission is to promote small enterprise development by providing trade and business skills training, individual business consultancy, and financial assistance to persons who are matured, have job experience and vocational skills, work for themselves full-time, and exhibit entrepreneurial traits.

The mission statement contributes to the goal of increasing employment generated by Swazi-owned and/or managed section of the economy and expand the Swazi-owned or managed small business sector. (Gamedze, 1993, Personal interview). The primary goal of BMEP is to assist its clients in transforming income generating activities into small business enterprises which are operated as viable economic entities. In doing so, BMEP seeks to improve its clients’ ability to produce quality products/services and to effectively manage their business activities.

BMEP is governed by a Board of Directors; however the day to day operations are the responsibility of the Director assisted by a program manager responsible for training and extension, and a finance manager who oversees the functions of the organization and administration of the loan scheme. BMEP extension officers are serving a total of 94 clients. They provide business assistance to 47 clients who also have received loans, 16 clients who are receiving business assistance only, and 31 clients who are in the assessment phase.

BMEP is providing business assistance to 7 tenants in the BMEP “sheltered” workshops (Gamedze, 1993). BMEP has established relationships and linkages with other organizations that are involved in some kind of economic/business activities, and therefore identified areas of specific need for BMEP’s assistance. BMEP has formed strong linkages with other organizations involved in both urban and rural economic/business activities. These include among others: Women in Development (WID), Rural Education Centers (REC), Swaziland Farmers’ Development Foundation (SFDF).

BMEP has established good relationships with financial institutions (e. g. , commercial banks) in which their representatives participate in BMEP training sessions and workshops as resource persons (Gamedze, 1993). Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center The Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center is an institution with an agricultural focus but supported by four other technical training programs, namely, Carpentry, Building and Construction, Motor Mechanics, and Metal Work. The Center had its first intake in 1992/93.

When the Center is in full swing, a business management program to develop entrepreneurial skill will be put in place. Aimed at the youth usually referred to as “street kids” who are at risk, which includes the underprivileged, the unemployed, the educationally and socially disadvantaged, and school dropouts; the Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center (NASTC) has given the youth of Swaziland another lease on life (Malan, 1992). This recently constructed skills training center offers training over a duration of two years.

Modeled after the Manzini Industrial Training Center (MITC), the Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center (NASTC) has the objective of training people toward self-employment or earning a wage in the agricultural sector of the economy. The establishment of such a center that provides “on-the-job training” in Swaziland is of significance in that it plays a major role in promoting self-sufficiency among young people. On the other hand, the underprivileged young persons, those with limited formal education, are catered for in so far as skill acquisition is concerned.

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