[Excerpt] The reports herein provide in-depth analyses of the state of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Each country has two reports covering TVET and higher education which were presented in the three country-level workshops during the first week of December 2012: Sri Lanka (1 December), Nepal (3 December), and Bangladesh (5 December). Participants from government, the private sector, academe, and development partners discussed and validated the findings, and supported the recommendations as well as identified additional next steps.
In TVET, issues range from insufficient teachers and trainers in Bangladesh to lack of quality monitoring system in Nepal, and to inadequate industry participation in Sri Lanka. Among the common issues identified are weak quality assurance mechanisms, low employment rate of graduates, lack of information about demand (leading to a mismatch between training and available jobs), expensive and long-term training that excludes the poor and marginalized, weak institutional arrangements, and inadequate provision of high-quality TVET to manage and scale up training programs.
Higher education is equally affected by various constraints ranging from lack of accountability for performance among institutions in Bangladesh to high politicization in Nepal, and to weak quality assurance mechanisms in Sri Lanka. Common issues identified are regional disparities in access, high cost in private higher education institutions, and poor quality and relevance as well as lack of emphasis on courses that promote entrepreneurship.
Key recommendations of the reports include implementation of a national quality assurance system, establishing a reliable skills data and labor market information system, effective financing schemes, encouraging public–private partnerships, and international benchmarking and mutual recognition for global competitiveness. In TVET, the key priorities are strengthening private training provision with clearly identified and mandated apex agency to effectively coordinate and scale up training programs, development of national competency standards, and building the capacity of TVET institutions. In higher education, the key priorities are developing research capacity, improved targeting of financial assistance to students, adopting formula funding in allocating public funding to universities, promoting accountability and autonomy among higher education institutions, and depoliticization of the higher education system.