The Traditional Apprenticeship Programme Evolves

Of late, questions concerning the relevance of the education system in Zimbabwe have risen which led to the formulation of a new curriculum for primary and secondary education. One of the major areas of debate is that, the graduates of our education programmes can not relate the theory they acquire from the classes to practical life. The introduction of illustrative methodologies such as research projects, requiring all learners to engage in tasks that involve the application of what they learn in class, promises to bridge the theoretical-practical knowledge gap. Nonetheless, the same problem inverted was noted in our traditional apprenticeship programmes whose thrust has mainly been teaching the learner to engage in practical projects from the onset with very minimal understanding of the theories grounding the practice.

This year, Silveira House, in response to the increasing demand for technical skills training grappled with the question of formalizing the traditional apprenticeship programme in order to ensure that those who graduate are well grounded in both theory and practice of their trades, hence, universally employable. Noteworthy is the minimum academic requirements for one to meaningfully engage in certifiable industrial training programmes, that is, at least 5 ordinary level subjects. This brings, on our part, a programmatic problem in regards to staying true to the core values of our preferential option for the poor, most of whom lack access to formal education by virtue of their geographical location in remote undeveloped regions of the country among other determinants.

In collaboration with line ministries and industrial training colleges, the Technical and Vocational Skills Training Programme has made efforts to avail to men and women in poor regions of Zimbabwe the opportunity to enroll into industrially certified skills training programmes. A sizeable number have made it into mainstream programmes and acquired employable skills. Beneficiaries from Matobo, Binga, Hopley, and Chipinge and other poor suburbs in Harare such as Mabvuku and Tafara testify to the impact of this innovation. We are proud pioneers and one among a few (if not the only) organizations offering this sort of dual training, balancing between formal and informal learning in the area of technical and vocational training.