Skills Development Programme: The road towards digital learning

Initial vocational education and training
15.06.2021
Skills Development Programme (SDP), a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, is supporting the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) and the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) with capacity building to increase e-learning expertise.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, 107 TVET institutes across Cambodia remained closed. This lead relevant stakeholders to seek distance learning opportunities to ensure the continuity of education for Cambodian learners. A technical working group was established under the decision of the E-learning Management Committee, to support currently enrolled students by providing a flexible E-learning training programme. This E-Learning training programme is a part of the government’s plan in moving towards Industry 4.0.​ As such, the national E-Learning Platform was recently launched to allow all public TVET institutions to utilise and deliver online courses in their respective school. Limited experience of the trainers and low IT skills among the learners made this transition challenging. Skills Development Programme (SDP), a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, is supporting the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) and the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) with capacity building to increase e-learning expertise.

Our e-learning intervention 

SDP supports the TVET institutions with its e-learning initiative. Firstly, there is an immediate and urgent need for TVET institutions to keep the current programmes going. There is a need for quick courses for trainers to improve their skills in content development which includes creating educational videos,  presenting PowerPoint slides in zoom meetings, and introducing online tools for sharing and saving learning material. Secondly, there is a need for a long-term plan to improve the skills of existing teacher training by including pedagogy and e-learning along with its technical aspects. This will help to increase the accessibility for learners to attend TVET and therefore increase the employability of disadvantaged young women, men, and low-skilled workers. For this purpose, SDP will facilitate comprehensive training for “Master Trainers” to ensure access to learning. 

For the TVET institutions, a needs assessment has been conducted in collaboration with the MoLVT to identify local expertise and define a starting point for the implementation considering the challenges and possibilities in the sector. The plan is to scale up and adapt the strategy to the needs of MoT at a later date. A pilot phase has been completed with some classes in e-learning. For learners, it has been an opportunity to save time and cost, foster self-motivation, and take advantage of the flexibility of e-learning. However, there are challenges to this modality which pertains due to unstable internet access and low ICT skills. A systematic change is required to adequately adapt to e-learning and still deliver high quality TVET programming.

Our experience with e-learning

SDP’s cooking training was recently delivered as online class called “Learning How To Cook Online.” With time and practice, the cooking training was successfully delivered to the learners via Zoom and other softawares such as Kahoot, Mentimeter. The e-learning modality prompted the students to be more proactive in peer learning through discussions, sharing in the fora, and enabled them to successfully complete the course with certification. 

SDP and the National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (NIEI) have also joined forces. NIEI offers e-learning to ensure continuous learning for the learners during school closures. Distance learning includes videos and lessons delivered online. Around 100 learners have been benefitting from this new learning initiative.  “I think that the implementation of e-learning is a learning revolution that becomes the new normal.” Said  Mr. Un Sokha, a trainer of NIEI. “The learners will study in various styles, not only physical classes. Thanks to e-learning, the learners can study anywhere they want without traveling to their specific school, which saves a lot of time and money. Given this flexibility, learners can choose the learning environment which is the most comfortable for them and most beneficial for their studies,” he continued. 

For instance, to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, 5 PTCs in Kratie, Stung Teng, Preah Vihear, Ratanak Kiri, and Mondul Kiri started to incorporate e-training in their school operation. With strong attention from MLVT, and with support from the SDP, PTCs have switched to training delivery online using various applications such as Zoom, Telegram, Google Meet, and Google Classroom. Trainers’ capacity on online delivery mechanism is built through coaching and mentoring from DGTVET technical staff and TVET school coordinator in each province. Obstacles that prevent the learners from joining the class online were addressed. With these efforts, PTCs have been able to retain roughly 50% of learners to continue their training through online classes and are expected to increase as these e-learning intitiatves improve over time. 

Another successful e-learning initiative has been the recently organised Training of Trainers. This event was organised by Ratanak Kiri Provincial Department of Tourism and Hospitality Kampuchea Steering Committee (HoKa-SC), Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with SDP. They offered an online training course in Food and Beverage Services for aspiring trainers. In this week long training, 40 trainees are participated and learned from an ASEAN certified trainer. After completing the training, the participants will become professional, certified trainers. They will be  able to apply techniques and knowledge gained in their training, to their business.

In summary

Hopefully the pandemic will be over soon but until then SDP, in the short term, supports the immediate response of TVET institutions during school closures by offering quick and basic training to teachers to create and deliver online content to maintain operations and access to training. On the other hand, SDP, in the long-term run, will contribute to the accessibility and attractiveness of TVET for learners by training Master Trainers that offer capacity building and support for all the trainers in the Cambodian TVET landscape.

Skills Development Programme
The overall goal of the Skills Development Programme (SDP) is for disadvantaged young women and men and low-skilled workers in five rural provinces of Cambodia (Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie, Mondulkiri, and Rattanakiri) to gain access to decent employment and increased income.