You might have heard of – or seen – colleges being called TVET colleges. You might even have studied at a TVET college already! But what exactly is a TVET college, where does the term come from, and what is the relationship between a TVET college and an FET college?
What does TVET mean?
TVET stands for ‘technical and vocational education and training’. It is an international educational term that is applied to certain post-school educational institutes.
The UNESCO-UNEVOC organisation defines TVET as the following:
“Technical and vocational education is used as a comprehensive term referring to those aspects of the educational process involving, in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences, and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life.”
Where does the term ‘TVET’ come from?
As already stated, TVET is an international term. It was created at the 1999 UNESCO International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education in Seoul, South Korea. Following the congress, UNESCO-UNEVOC established the International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Germany with the aim of helping Member States to promote and upgrade their vocational post-school education systems. TVET has become an international educational initiative aimed at improving vocational training programmes around the world.
The role of TVET in South Africa
In 2012, the term TVET was introduced into the South African educational system by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Starting in 2012 already, public FET (Further Education and Training) colleges have started to change their names to TVET colleges under the direction of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). This was because the DHET wanted to bring the South African educational system in line with international trends and standards. Read more about this here: Why FET Colleges Are Changing Their Names to TVET Colleges
In January 2014, the minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, announced that not only public FET colleges, but all FET colleges were to change to TVET colleges. This means that the term FET will eventually fall out of use after this transition is complete (Technically, all FET colleges are now TVET colleges, even though they still call themselves FET colleges).
What is the difference between an FET college and a TVET college?
At another UNESCO-UNEVOC Conference on TVET, Blade Nzimande said:
“South Africa perfectly reflects this [TVET] trend with recently developed policies that emphasise the strengthening of the effectiveness of FET colleges and SETAs, reinvigorating artisan training, and building partnerships between educational institutions and employers.”
The reason why the shift from FET to TVET colleges was such an easy one in South Africa was because FET colleges were already focused on the same kind of skills development and vocational training that TVET is meant to promote.
The name change is, however, also meant to form part of a bigger strategy on behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training: going forward, they aim to implement new efforts to improve the South African post-school education system and make studying at a South African college an even greater and more prestigious undertaking.