Moving Classrooms Online: Agricultural Machinery Mechanics Apprenticeship Training in Response to Covid-19

With the sudden and unprecedented pressures that the global Covid-19 crisis is imposing, the provision of education and training has been impacted by regulations on social distancing and travel restrictions. According to the latest figures from UNESCO, as of 22 June 2020 more than 1 billion learners were affected by the closures of schools, training institutions and universities with nationwide closures effective in 144 countries.

Since the instructed closure of education and training institutions all over Myanmar in late March, several initiatives have been taken by Vocational Skills Development Program (VSDP) to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning. Among them is the apprenticeship training in agricultural machinery mechanics, which has been adapted to online learning as a temporary measure, beginning early June.

The dual apprenticeship training, which is based on the Swiss dual system, normally involves apprentices splitting their learning time between the classroom and on-the-job training in a 30-70 split over an 18-month period.

In late April following the nation-wide lock down period, the host companies resumed their business allowing the apprentices to continue gaining workplace exposure. However, the three weeks block training planned for May could not be implemented due to travel restrictions. Instead the, the classroom training, has been moved online, delivered weekly by local and international technical trainers. The apprentices receive theoretical lessons in automobile electronics, including the basic hydraulic and brake system. The trainers regularly engage in recap discussions with the apprentices on how they are applying their weekly lessons in the workplace and address any questions the students might have. While remote learning cannot completely replace classroom in-person training, especially for practical occupations, it can nonetheless help apprentices to remain engaged and continue to make progress in their apprenticeship.

Dual Apprenticeship Training is one of the components of the Vocational Skills Development Program (VSDP). The VSDP aims to promote improved livelihood opportunities for women and men in targeted areas and occupations in Myanmar. The Program is implemented by Swisscontact and financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).