THOUGHTS

The Role of TVET Education in Promoting Sustainable Development in Malaysia

29/07/2022 02:52 PM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By Nor Aini Abdul Rahman, Samsul Ariffin Abdul Karim & Nabilla Afzan Abdul Aziz

Malaysia is actively promoting and implementing sustainable development initiatives in supporting sustainable development and sustainable education. Many eco institutions and schools have been established to realise these initiatives. Higher education institutions are in the running to achieve sustainable education. Among these are the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in Malaysia. TVET education is playing a more important role in enhancing sustainability in the country through its academic programmes. To date, there are about 1300 public and private TVET institutions governed by 11 ministries in the country.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Malaysia emphasises employment opportunities and industrial practices (Malaysian Ministry of Education, 2022). The ministry further states that TVET education was established to fulfil industrial demands and promoting economic development in line with globalisation, the knowledge-based economy, development in technology and global mobility of the workforce. TVET education plays an important role in producing skilled workforce in helping to fulfil the aim of Malaysia becoming a developed country.

TVET is an important platform in achieving sustainable development (SD). According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2022), sustainable development refers to achieving a balance between environmental care and fulfilling human needs for now and in the future. This concept suggests that there must be a balance between fulfilling human needs and the ability to supply goods and services without degrading the environment or our natural resources. Climate change, poverty, hunger, lack of clean water and inequality are some of the challenges facing mankind today.

The UNDP sees sustainable development as a way to resolve these challenges. As such, the UNDP has proposed 17 sustainable development goals which aim to address those challenges. The goals will not only protect our earth and promote the well-being of people, but will also ensure sustainable development throughout the world. As such, sustainability is addressed from three aspects: environmental protection, economic growth and social development. Following that, the UNDP recommends 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) in promoting prosperity while protecting the earth. The goals can be seen in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations Development Programme, 2020)

As seen in Figure 1, an important goal in SDG is Quality Education (Goal 4). In this vein, Malaysia has taken all the necessary steps to fulfil the sustainable education development goal for the country. Therefore, the Malaysian Economic Planning Unit is responsible in carrying sustainable development initiatives for the country. With the establishment of National Sustainable Development Goal Council, Malaysia is forging ahead in planning, monitoring and implementing sustainable development goals for the country.

With the establishment of the National SDG Council in Malaysia, each SDG is managed by five working committees. They are Inclusivity, Well-being, Human Capital, Environment and Natural Resources, and Economic Growth (Economic Planning Unit, 2020). SDG Goal 4 (Quality Education) is placed under the Human Capital Working Committee.

As seen in Figure 1, an important goal in SDG is Quality Education (Goal 4). In this vein, Malaysia has taken all the necessary steps to fulfil the sustainable education development goal for the country. The Malaysian Economic Planning Unit is responsible in carrying sustainable development initiatives for the country. With the establishment of the National Sustainable Development Goal Council, Malaysia is forging ahead in planning, monitoring and implementing sustainable development goals for the country.

With the establishment of the National SDG Council in Malaysia, each SDG is managed by five working committees. These are Inclusivity, Well-being, Human Capital, Environment and Natural Resources, and Economic Growth (Economic Planning Unit, 2020). SDG Goal 4 (Quality Education) is placed under Human Capital Working Committee as seen in Figure 2.


Figure 2: National SDG Council of Malaysia

Teaching and Learning (T&L) for secondary schools has evolved throughout the years. Students will be choosing their main stream either in Science or Social Sciences or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The demand for TVET has been increasing over the years, the main reason being that the TVET stream has made the students become job-independent compared with other streams that rely on position openings either in the government, private sector, corporate sector or industries. TVET graduates are in demand because they have all capabilities and skills in various fields that universities graduates may not have. TVET graduates have contributed to the development of Malaysia, either directly or indirectly. However, can we sustain the development in Malaysia? Is TVET education one of the solutions to sustain the development of Malaysia? If yes, how does TVET education play its role?

To achieve Goal 4, the Malaysian Government linked the goal to the 11th Malaysia Plan Mid Term Review. The goal is further divided into four major thrusts:

1.1 Raising the Quality of Education to Improve Student Outcomes

In the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013-2025 (Preschool to Post-Secondary Education) and MEB 2015-2025 (Higher Education), the transformation of the education system emphasises quality, equity, access, unity, efficiency and inclusivity (Malaysian Education Blueprint, 2020). The emphasis shows that raising the quality of basic education (preschool, primary and secondary education) focuses on enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM) and English language proficiency.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) in teaching and learning is given priority. Apart from that, promoting the virtual learning environment and intensifying continuous professional development for teachers are also highlighted. In higher education, emphasis is on raising the quality of graduates and academic programmes and attaining excellence in the governance of Institutions of Higher Education (IHE).

1.2 Prioritising Quality Over Quantity of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to Enhance Employability

Emphasis is given to review TVET programmes, implement a better accreditation system and strengthen TVET as the preferred education pathway. This will address the mismatch between the industry demand for technical and vocational skills and the skills acquired by the students from TVET institutions.

1.3 Improving Education for All to Ensure Equitable Access to Quality Education

Continuous efforts are made to improve access to quality education for every child, particularly for the less privileged and those with specific education needs. Emphasis is given to improve school performance and school infrastructure in urban, rural and remote areas for better learning experience. Reducing dropout rates and improving special education programmes is also emphasised.

1.4 Developing Industry-Relevant Skills to Meet Market Demand

Efforts are undertaken to ensure that graduates are equipped with industry-relevant skills to produce quality human capital that meets industry demand. In the remaining Plan period, various initiatives will be undertaken to enhance industry-based programmes, increase employability of graduates and recognise technologists as professionals for the TVET sector. In addition, IHE will focus on intensifying industry-academia collaboration, while HRDF will expand the Future Workers Training (FWT) scheme.

On achieving Goal 4, the Government of Malaysia has published a report on the progress made (Economic Planning Unit, 2020). According to the report, among the initiatives taken was increasing the national budget for improving TVET programmes from RM1.1 billion in 2019 to RM8.6 billion in 2020. As for enrolment in TVET programmes, it was reported that enrolment was at 335,122 in 2019.

In the context of sustainability, TVET education is instrumental in improving lives. The Bonn Declaration on Learning for Work, Citizenship and Sustainability states that since education is considered the key to effective development strategies, 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. (UNEVOC-UNESCO, 2022, p. 2). The declaration has suggested that TVET is seen as an important tool to educate society in achieving sustainability throughout the world.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were an urgent call for action by all countries to make the world a better place to live in, and the goals encourage global partnership among state members.

It was recognised that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

In line with the 17 SDGs, The Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) provides substantive support and capacity-building for the SDGs and their related thematic issues, including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanisation, transport, science and technology, the Global Sustainable Development Report, partnerships and Small Island Developing States.

TVET instructors have a critical role to play in addressing knowledge and skills challenges to achieving the SDGs. TVET education can transmit the right mindset and attitude among trainees and the future workforce through well-designed education and training programmes.

TVET can provide skilled learners, upskill professionals in the green job sectors, and re-skill those affected by job losses. By mobilising TVET institutions to engage in advocacy and adopt greening TVET practices, a country can effectively develop institutional green and climate-responsive strategies that have a positive impact on society and the labour market.

TVET is directly linked to the labour market and hence plays a key role in providing knowledge and skills to facilitate the transition to greener economies and societies. TVET is also seen as a platform to address climate change for advocacy, to increase the capacity of TVET institutions, and to develop green action plans. Starting in 2022, UNESCO-UNEVOC will arrange possible support through technical assistance targeted to institutions to advance the implementation of their institutional greening plans.

As a concluding remark, Brundtland (1987) suggests that “humanity has the ability to make development sustainable: to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (3, pp. ix, 8).

On that note, Malaysia has taken all the necessary steps towards achieving sustainable development through TVET education and will continue to do so. TVET has a very important role to play in promoting sustainable development in Malaysia. As reiterated by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education of Malaysia, TVET has contributed to the country’s economic development and growth. This can be seen from the increased number of TVET institutions in the country and the continuous efforts made to develop TVET further.

-- BERNAMA

Nor Aini Abdul Rahman is a Senior Lecturer at Quest International University.

Samsul Ariffin Abdul Karim is an Associate Professor with Software Engineering Programme, Faculty of Computing and Informatics, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Malaysia.

Nabilla Afzan Abdul Aziz is a lecturer in the Petroleum Engineering Department of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP).

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)