We must train for sustainability in industry and technology

Dr. Dinah Mwinzi
Permanent Secretary
Vocational and Technical Training

The theme for the 2017 RVTTI International TVET and Interdisciplinary Research Conference is, Towards collaborative TVET: Promoting Accelerated Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development is seen as a means to accelerate and attain development. Among the other sub-themes, the one titled, Greening TVET: Best Practices and Case Studies is specifically set aside as a UNEVOC PROJECT. Papers submitted under this sub-theme will be subject to Paper Competition. The winning innovative presenter shall be given recognition. Other themes are: TVET in Driving Sustainable Development, TVET for Accelerated Sustainable Technology; TVET in Accelerated Sustainable Economy; and Cross Cutting Themes in TVET in Accelerating Sustainable Development.

Judging by the theme and sub-themes, sustainable development (SD) is definitely the centrepiece of this conference. SD is about using resources to meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development in TVET is training for sustainability in industry and technology. Sustainable development is the master key to alleviate poverty, promote peace and conserve the environment. It at the same time improves the quality of life for all. The SD is in fact the convergence point in TVET.

All TVET institutions should strive to be green institutions. This requires more than use of new technology, but a change in attitude, behaviour and a complete new set of work ethic. Sustainable practices must be acquired by the TVET fraternity. Curricula in all disciplines must have the green elements because TVET is a major workforce producer and must meet the skill demands of the green economy, urgently. Aligning sustainability to TVET will enhance a green society with a green culture. Green economy are those activities that reduce the use of fossil fuels, decreasing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and increase efficiency of energy usage, recycling material and adapting sources of renewable energy. Green jobs are those that either directly or indirectly related to these.

In the words of Majumdar (2010) model, TVET should be the catalyst of Green transformation at the grassroots level. It should among other approaches aspire to have the following tiers: Green Campus, where the energy, water, and waste management are handled using green technology; and Green curriculum, where trainees can pursue courses that will produce manpower for the green economy. This will hasten to create a green community in and out of campus. The industry needs to start training technicians and technologists in the green sector. To do this, research and innovation are key.

Through research, we can acquire new insights and knowledge in changing the TVET scene in relation to the environment and development. We need to identify the gaps such is with wind power and solar energy, climate change, sustainable agriculture, rail transportation and wastemanagement and waste treatment. We must make sacrifices and be committed now, more than ever before. Gradually, we will have a green culture, with new values, attitude, ethics and practice.
RVTTI as a regional leader in research, and TVET should take up the challenge and wade in the unknown but sure waters of greening.

Finally, I take this opportunity to congratulate all stakeholders, presenters, greening champions, exhibitors and the entire RVTTI community for this sterling conference. It is obvious that a lot of effort has gone into the preparations and hosting of the conference. Thank you for steering the mandate of the Ministry of Education and leading by example. Congratulations and God Bless