The National Association of Vocational & Skills Training Institutes (NAVSTI) which is the umbrella body of all TVETs (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) in The Gambia wishes to express grave concern on the impact of the SOPE due to the COVID-19 pandemic on training institutions.
All TVET institutions were ordered to close for business since the declaration of the first state of emergency on the 17th of March 2020, even though the effect of the pandemic is global and affects all strata of the economy, the impact is more severe on TVETs. Whiles other businesses are allowed to open partially, there has been a total and complete lockdown of all training institutions for the past 5 months.
The impact of these closures has a serious negative effect especially in the TVET and skills sector, there is evidence that the major challenge for institutions has been to remain operational and to continue to provide their services to the community, despite having suspended face-to-face classes. While some government institutions and corporate businesses are more likely to have ready-made online learning solutions for their students and employees, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) like most TVETS typically will not. TVETS require specific support from service providers and Government to promote up-skilling and re-skilling of their employees and to explore online learning solutions during this period. In addition, we must also not overlook the fact that TVET and skills programs do not easily migrate to distance and online learning and hence the need for support.
Training institutions are dying and there has not been any support from Government, it’s a well-known fact that training institutes rely solely on school fees, with no more fees from students, the question remains, “how can we continue paying salaries when no money is being generated?” We are obliged to pay our staff and we have the desire to but with the current situation and its unpredictability, we might struggle to pay salaries and rent if the pandemic isn’t wrestled down soon.
We know that the ripple down effects of the current crisis are profound and potentially long lasting. We have our young people staying at home not engage in any meaningful skills development, this can lead to high rate of juvenile delinquency as the adage goes “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.