The Role of International NGOs in Supporting Sustainable Local Partnerships for Vocational Training
Keywords: Partnership, NGOs, vocational training/ TVET, India, Paraguay, Kenya
Summary: This paper gives examples from vocational training projects in India, Paraguay and Kenya, which show that partnerships between local organisations can help to establish genuinely responsive and sustainable training programmes, and that international NGOs can play an important role in facilitating, supporting and leveraging these partnerships.
There is growing awareness that international NGOs working in the field of vocational education and training need to draw on the knowledge and networks of local partners to ensure that training is relevant to local market and employment needs . This is particularly important in places in which employment opportunities are scarce and the resources for training are limited, as they are in many developing areas. The need for partnership is not restricted to relationships between international NGOs and local training providers, however. This paper gives examples from vocational training projects in India, Paraguay and Kenya, which show that partnerships between local organisations can be a key to establishing genuinely responsive and sustainable training programmes, and that international NGOs can play an important role in facilitating, supporting and leveraging these partnerships, maximising the impact of their own direct assistance.
The projects highlight the role of local partnerships in two different forms of vocational training. The projects in Paraguay and Kenya involve schools where technical skills and entrepreneurship skills are taught simultaneously by involving students in school-run income-generating enterprises. The profits from the school businesses can be re-invested into the educational process, with the prospect of ultimate self-sufficiency. The project in India involves training where income generation is not integrated into the teaching process, but the programmes are designed specially to meet the specific needs of local employers. In both cases, close relationships between the educational facility and the community are needed to establish a positive education/production cycle where training that directly meets the needs of the region increases local production. This supports both employment and business opportunities and increases sources of local funding for training . Partnerships between educational and community bodies can help to ensure that training and local opportunities are complementary. Local partnerships are also well-placed to monitor the effectiveness of training and respond to changes in demand. Partnerships between local training providers can maximise local capacity to address shared challenges. These kinds of partnerships can enable locally-relevant training to become sustainable, as communities reap the benefits of this type of training, reinvest in it, and champion its development to meet emerging local needs. However, community-led education initiatives also face a series of serious challenges. Firstly, although they may aim to be sustainable in the future, it may take a considerable investment to set such initiatives up, and this may be prohibitive for local organisations. Secondly, the local organisations may not have experience in managing funds or production facilities, and may need management support. Thirdly, in addition to resources for establishing training centres, these local initiatives may initially require technical knowledge and pedagogical resources to support their training.Our case studies show that international NGOs can help local partnerships overcome these obstacles in a number of ways. One example is the work that Teach a Man to Fish, an international NGO, has done to establish networks between training providers and other parties involved in enterprise-orientated training. In Paraguay and Kenya, for example, the Teach a Man to Fish network has enabled training centres to share problems and successful strategies, provided focused management training, improved the relationship of the training centres with local government, increased their direct access to funding, and, in Kenya, enabled the centres to take collective action to access more teacher training.Such networks also play an important role in developing practical knowledge about enterprise-oriented education. As local initiatives which integrate production into learning are often experimental in nature, and developed in response to a specific opportunity and/or need, the gains that they make in devising successful schemes may be lost without some means of recording these gains, analysing and exploring them, and disseminating them to others who might benefit from them. The role of international NGOs in maintaining and developing these networks is therefore a valuable way of preserving and building on successful local initiatives.A second example of how international NGOs can support local community relationships is the work that the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (CSD) has done in Hyderabad, in partnership with CfBT, which runs over 100 schools locally. CSD has helped the training providers connect their training with local opportunities in industry by addressing a skills supply issue in the area: many students lack awareness of job opportunities in industry and do not undertake relevant employability skills programmes, while local employers say that potential employees lack employability skills. CSD connected the providers with the Promise Foundation, a Bangalore-based NGO which specialises in careers guidance, and which undertook to train two teachers in guidance skills in an initial 10 schools. The Centre's international experience in employer engagement has enabled it to involve employers in careers development at an early stage, and, by connecting local actors, it has been able to pilot an on-going mechanism for educating students about career paths, and meeting the skills needs of industry in the area.These cases show how international NGOs can successfully support training organisations by creating local learning and support networks for similar organisations, and forming models for local employer engagement. By integrating organisations into such networks and by strengthening their management capacity, their capacity to directly access funding, and their ability to design appropriate teaching materials, international NGOs can help local training organisations gain operational independence, supported by sustainable local support networks which benefit from, but do not depend upon the continued involvement of, international NGOs.
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