Mountains cover more than 90 % of this landlocked country, the smallest in Central Asia with a population of around eight million people. With the lowest GDP in the region, Tajikistan is also the youngest country by demographic, with one third of the population under 14 years old.
The youth bulge is placing considerable pressure on the education system and labour market. While progress is slow, developments in vocational education and training (VET) are being realised through the robust cooperation between international donors, the European Union and the Tajik government. Tajikistan’s Deputy Minister of Labour Migration and Employment, Abdusalom Mirzozoda, who oversees VET joined the ‘Responding to Challenges’ panel discussion at the Torino Process conference. We caught up with him to find out more.
What are some of the achievements and challenges in VET and labour market development?
I will start from the main achievements. We have started to develop a new generation professional standards for VET specialisations working together with employers’ representatives. Within the Asian Development Bank project, improving the physical facilities (premises, equipment and infrastructure) has begun in 28 VET schools; we hope this will help to increase the attractiveness of vocational education.
Along with the government, international donor organisations such as GIZ, ETF, ADB, and the Islamic Development Bank, are contributing to the success. Currently, there are four international projects in the area of vocational education. They cover topics such as system reinforcement and technical aid for the professional development of teachers and trainers. Meanwhile, infrastructure and human resources for the Training and Methodological Centre for VET Quality Monitoring, created in 2014, are being consolidated.
Undertaking fundamental reforms in the area of education is a priority for the government of Tajikistan, which has taken action to create a legal framework for the initial VET sector. In this context, we are aiming to improve the quality and system of vocational institutions, taking into consideration the needs of the labour market and demand for human resources. Tajikistan aims to transform VET into one of the key instruments of human capital development and the catalyst for lifelong learning and sustainable development of the country, facilitating the increase of competitiveness and social cohesion.
Among the main challenges is the need for qualitative and structural improvement for the professional development of teachers and trainers in VET. We also have to develop a comprehensive action plan for further development of VET reforms, based on the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan, recently adopted by the government. We still have a lot to do to improve VET quality and increase its attractiveness for young people and adults.
How does the ETF support Tajikistan? What’s your own experience of the cooperation?
Over many years of cooperation with the ETF, which includes visits by at least two former ETF directors, we have seen substantial work to consolidate different categories of VET workers – from instructors and teachers through to management of VET institutions.
The ETF is one of the main partners in initiating and development of strategic directions for VET reform in our country. For instance, the School Development Initiative in Central Asia made an important contribution to the quality of training for engineering and teaching staff.
Through the ETF, several study visits have been organised for VET teachers and instructors to Europe, and other Central Asian countries. International experts have also assisted our teachers and instructors in the development of modular learning programmes.
I would also like to mention, in particular, the Torino Process – one of the principal instruments of current situation analysis of the VET system and identification of gaps and challenges for further system development.
Looking forward, what are the most important areas where the ETF can help?
Taking into account the ETF’s significant experience, its support in all areas of VET reform, it is very useful for Tajikistan. The focus now is to improve the system of continuing professional development of VET teachers and trainers. In addition, monitoring, evaluation and quality assessments, the development of professional standards and the National Qualifications Framework, and systemised data collection are also important.
What will you take away from the Torino Process conference?
First off all, I would like to thank the ETF for organising these events and inviting us to participate. The Changing Skills for a Changing World conference is a good platform to learn and exchange good practice for VET system development. We hope to acquire the information and knowledge to be able to implement developments, in particular, in preparation of the next round of the Torino Process!
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This interview features in the latest Live&Learn, which goes In Depth at the Changing Skills for a Changing World conference. Download the magazine here.