In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty
program around is suitable education.
PiVoT comes from: Pilot for Vocational Training. The objective of the PiVoT project is to set up a school for primary vocational education in rural areas.
Basic vocational education in Zambia has got little attention up to now. The emphasis within the educational system has so far been given to what could be called the ´educational pyramid´. The base is formed by the Basic School, which is widely accessible in Zambia. The top consists of the the universities and colleges. In between the Highschool is situated being the only form of secondary education. The unavoidable drop outs and school leavers usually don´t have an optimal preparation for the jobs offered in society. Although there are several private initiatives - especially in urban areas - vocational education offered bears no relation to need.
Within the project we have chosen to give particular attention to basic vocational education in rural areas. The background to this is that vocational training is of great importance for the economic development of these areas.
The project was set up in co-operation with Teveta - the national organization that takes care of the curriculum and the accreditation of vocational education - and with the ministries involved.
Is a further economic development of the rural part of the country desirable?
One might wonder whether the economic progress of rural areas is a desirable development. What is wrong with an economic structure in which everyone produces for his own consumption, in which housing is made of locally-found materials and in which hardly any cash is going around? The disadvantage of this traditional rural economy is that the formation of 'buffers', necessary for the inevitable lean years to come, is not possible. Periodic famine and increased mortality are, therefore - without external help - inevitable in the traditional rural economy. To absorb the fluctuations in agricultural productivity the money economy is a necessity. Apart from this there are other problems associated with the traditional rural economy like migration to urban areas and major cultural differences between rural and industrialized regions.
An analysis of whether or not economic development in rural areas is desirable, obviously requires more words then are used in the previous paragraph. In any case, however, it can be stated that a gradual economic development of rural areas is desirable and that vocational education tailored to local conditions is an important first step.
Why specifically in that area?
Around 2001, the Foundation Joy of a Toy (www.joyofatoy.nl) started a primary school in Chinsali District near the place where they already had established an orphanage. The primary school lasts nine years in Zambia so the first group left school at the end of that school year. The Zambian school system is such that after primary school a limited number of students goes to the - theoretically oriented - secondary school. Consequently a large number of pupils leaves school after the last class of the Primary School. They haven't been trained for a profession and for them there is no further education available - apart from some private initiatives. The government is aware of this shortcoming in the education system but it takes time to develop and implement a structure for lower vocational education. Due to the large numbers, there is much money involved.
What does the situation look like in local areas of Chinsali District? Notable is the increasing need to live in modern houses instead of in a conventional hut built with local materials. Parallel to this development there is the gradual installation of electricity and water systems. You also see changes in agriculture. In many places and for various reasons, there is a need to diversify and broaden the local supply.
The Pivot project has been realized in Kalwala Village - about 10 km from Chinsali. Initially it consisted of a vocational school linked to a primary school. Later on a Secondary School was set up and the two were combined into a single institute. The school was officially handed over to the Ministry of Education in 2014. A year later it was gazetted.
Integrated secondary education.
Besides the primary objective - the establishment of the school itself - the project had a secondary objective: to contribute to the debate about the future position of vocational education and its integration in an overall framework for secondary education. One of the difficulties in this context is that rural areas are sparsely populated but that nevertheless basic vocational training should be offered 'within walking distance´ in order to maintain the link with the region. This means that schools are relatively small, which conflicts with aspects like economy of scale, diversity in training programs, availability of lab facilities and the like.
By now an important step has been set in the national educational structure: vocational education has been integrated in the Secondary School which now consists of an academic and a vocational stream. Because in Kalwala the two were already working together closely the complete integration was only a small step. Hence, Kalwala Secondary School was one of the first schools set up according to the new structure.
It seemed like a good moment in time to terminate the project when the ministry took over. However, as it is with children that grow up and leave home, a continuation of the close co-operations was felt as desirable by both parties.
An important new problem - apart from the permanent growth of the school - was that quite a number of students came from so far that it was virtually impossible to go home every day. After discussion of the problem with the school it was decided to build two dormitories - one for the boys and one for the girls. The dormitories are supervised and add in that way to the education and social cohesion.
Finally the school hopes to give a contribution to a healthy diet. Therefor a dining room has been built and a school garden was set up.