The essentiality of Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) to value addition, employability enrichment, sustainable development, growth and advancement of nations has become more widely recognised around the world. The hallmark focus on practical competencies and work-readiness of TEVET makes it a premium blueprint for economic and social development. It equips individuals with relevant skills and knowledge to effectively participate in social, economic and value addition processes, which are essential attributes for the development of any social structure.
Due to the significant role of TEVET in finding home-based solutions, Government has prioritised the sector to develop a crop of skilled youthful workforce. One of the home-based solutions from the TEVET sector is the “Desk Initiative” aimed at addressing the desk deficit in schools across the country. The Desk Initiative is a brainchild of trades training institutes under the Ministry of Technology and Science.
The initiative was launched at the National Assembly by the Speaker of the National Assembly during Desk Fair and Exhibition at the National Assembly. Twenty-two (22) trades training institutes showcased their products and capacities in answering to the Presidential call to produce school furniture locally. The product range of the wood works by the trades training institutes included single, two-seater desks, teachers’ tables, house doors, and bunker beds.
Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti has commended the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) institutions for manufacturing various models of school furniture to cushion the one million deficit in both primary and secondary schools across the country. Ms. Mutti explained that the TEVET institutions have the capacity to manufacture quality desks at a large scale to schools.
The speaker disclosed that the TEVET institutions capacity to produce desks stood at 1,500 desks per week translating into 6,000 desks per month. She commended the ministry of technology and science to engage the members of Parliament hence signifying the worthiness of them in providing the much needed support not only in the area of skills development but also the manufacturing of desks. Ms. Mutti was speaking this morning during the first of its kind, in the history of parliament, fair exhibits of the desk manufacturing capacities of the trades training institutions held in Lusaka at the Parliament grounds.
And speaking at the fair Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati said the objective of the desk fair is to encourage parliamentarians to engage TEVET colleges and acquire local products to furnish schools with desks and therefore support the local economies in constituencies and help thrive the local economy at large.
Mr Mutati said the 28 Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) colleges spread across the country offering engineering and technical related programmes embrace and support the manufacturing of local desks using the state of the art equipment and skilled human resources that are capable of producing desks with a global repute.
He said under the new dawn government, the policy direction by his excellency President Hakainde Hichilema was fundamental to pursue a strategic direction of locally manufacturing of different products, among them, the desks hence strengthening entrepreneurial capacity building in the local economy.
Minister Mutati explained that about 7000 learners from 100 constituencies across the country, in the first phase of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) skills support training, have benefitted in various programs such as carpentry and joinery, metal fabrication, bricklaying and plastering, power electrical, plumbing and sheet metal, welding, food production and agricultural activities among the many programmes offered in the TEVET institutions under the mandate of Ministry of Technology and Science (MOTS).
He said the positive response from the training program saw the launch of the desk manufacturing initiative program at solwezi trades training institute in June, 2022, he added that following the free education policy pronouncement, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of learners attending school both at primary and secondary school level in the urban, peri-urban and rural areas hence the increase in numbers has brought about the need to have capacity improvement of facilities in schools which include school furniture, such as desks.
Minister Mutati called upon members of parliament to engage TEVET institutions for the manufacture of desks to furnish schools and reduce the deficit by 2023.
Mr Mutati said the desired outcome from this desk fair is to have the members of parliament to have a sight spot of the locally TEVET manufactured desks and actualise engagements through use of structures at respective constituency levels.
He said the desk manufacturing venture at institutional level empowers the youths with the required skills to be used at constituency level and subsequently creating effective employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for all the constituencies today and in the future hence alleviate poverty at household level and similarly improve the socio-economic livelihoods of the community and improved incomes.
Giving remarks Technology and Science Permanent Secretary, Dr. Brilliant Habeenzu said the skills development sector has been undergoing changes and it is important for the drivers of this sector to also respond to the changes by existence as providers of solutions to the desk deficit. "The Desk Fair showcased the abilities of trades training institutes in manufacturing desks and other wood works to the country especially to Members of Parliament. The skills development sector has been undergoing changes and it is important for the drivers of this sector to also respond to the changes by being providers of solutions to the desk deficit. While noting these changes, consultation has been done along the way on how best to respond to the needs and challenges in the provision of school furniture.”