Technical and Vocational Education: The Master Key to Alleviating Poverty
Access to technical education is undoubtedly one of the great challenges for Nicaragua and for the entire Latin American region. Since education is considered the key to effective development strategies, technical and vocational education and training (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.
Technical and vocational education and training together with literacy and higher education, is one of three priority subsectors for UNESCO in our work to foster inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The advances that have been achieved in access and coverage of primary and secondary education in Nicaragua since 2000 have shown that it is not enough to achieve universal primary education to escape poverty. Based on this, INATEC as the governing body created in 2018 the National Model of Technical Education and Vocational Training.
According to UE, it is necessary to establish a coherent relationship between basic education and secondary education, technical, and higher education to provide young people with knowledge and skills that are essential to enter the labor market.
NPH Nicaragua offers several vocational workshops that teach our young people life skills and will help them find employment when the time comes. Technical and vocational workshops prepare the children for working in a range of sectors, including construction, production, maintenance and agriculture; the market requires that those working in these sectors be skilled workers who have knowledge of and commitment to sustainable development, as well as the requisite technical knowledge. These programs help our kids learn a new skill, think critically about complex problems, and help them to become some of the most desired labor in our small country.
Our home offers four different workshops to our students: welding, residential electricity, sewing and shoemaking. The children attend classes in the afternoons as part of the school program. Our children can only participate if they are over 16 years-old. The vocational classes average around 20 students per workshop.
After completion of a workshop program, the student will receive a certificate from INATEC (Technical Institute of Nicaragua). The INATEC is one of the most prestigious technical institutes in the country and is a prerequisite for many trade school careers. The teachers who give the classes are professionals and certified by INATEC.
The workshops normally take two years to complete, depending of the curricula of the course. The first year the children are taught about the fundamentals of each trade and they earn a certificate of ability, which qualifies them at an introductory level. The second year they learn more advanced things and have more complicated projects. After the second-year exam they earn the level of technician.
In 2020, although we had to pause the workshops because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 120 students participated in our workshops, of which 38 will receive their certification of completion this year. The children who participate in these workshops will have the opportunity to work on various projects in the house and the ability to be some of the most sought out labor in Nicaragua.
The sewing program offers our children a number of benefits and challenges. It helps our home maintain a government mandate that requires uniforms for school as the young people in this workshop practice sewing by making uniforms for all of our kids. The children learn the patterns of skirts, pants, and other clothing apparel. They would apply their knowledge in the classroom to real-world settings. The children also have different projects during the year where they create their own designs, including the costumes for the activities of the house: the anniversary of NPH, posada of Christmas, etc.
This workshop teaches the children all the stages of shoemaking, from repairing shoes to creating new ones from scratch. Shoemaking is a popular need in Nicaragua and a great opportunity for the future of our children if they decide not to pursue higher education. In addition, the shoemaking program helps provide shoes for our children. Instead of purchasing shoes from an outside vendor, our children can help themselves and the home by making shoes. This program helps us become more self-sustainable.
The growing tourism industry and the future modernization of Nicaragua make the welding program an important asset. They learn how to handle the specific equipment and machines, and how to build and fix different projects. The welding program also helps our home with routine maintenance and construction projects.
The electrical working workshop provides our children with a rare opportunity to learn the science behind electrical circuits, think critically, and learn an in-demand trade. They learn how to handle everyday devices and machines. This is useful if the child wants to find a job after finishing high school.
Technical and Vocational Education for the Community
Besides the children living at NPH, external students also participate in the workshops. For them is a great opportunity to learn a trade so they can get a job which will allow them to help their family financially, as they often belong to poor or very poor families and live in communities where they don’t have any access to education.
2021 Vocational Workshop
For 2021 we are expecting 150 students from all the programs to register in our workshop, including internal, semi internal and external youth from the community.
In order to continue providing technical and vocational education to our youth so they develop skills to face the real-work world, we would like to invite you to be a part of this wonderful program and support the project to provide new work opportunities for our youth.