PETALING JAYA: Some 5,504 students are left in a bind after finishing school last year.
They had enrolled in the Pendidikan Vokasional Menengah Atas (PVMA) programme at their schools to receive Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and were supposed to be awarded with two certificates — the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM).
Unfortunately, 208 out of 269 national schools offering the PVMA programme have yet to be accredited as SKM training centres to run it.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan (pic) told The Star that the PVMA programme was put on hold by the Education Ministry in February due to the matter.
“These schools are not recognised by the Department of Skills Development under the Human Resources Ministry because the teachers appointed to deliver the programme are unqualified,” he said in the interview.
A Human Resources Ministry guideline states that qualified teachers must have SKM qualification in the relevant programmes to assess the students’ programmes under Levels One and Two.
Currently, many of the teachers are SKM Level Two holders.
Tan said the equipment in the schools also do not comply with the regulations set by the Department of Skills Development.
Describing the situation as unfair towards affected students, Tan said those who have graduated from the programme are skilled and qualified but do not possess the paper qualifications.
Department of Skills Development director-general Nidzam Kamarulzaman said schools must adhere to criteria before implementing SKM programmes.
“We also have a standard code of practice for schools to comply with.
“There are many elements involved, including having qualified instructors and trained teachers, meeting the requirements of our National Occupational Skills Standard and having a compound that is legal and safe for students.
“Serious consideration was not given towards the preparation of these schools (to run the programme),” he added.
Nidzam said the affected schools have since reached out to the department.
“We have been conducting meetings with them to correct the situation and we are targeting to solve the matter by next year,” he added.
An official from the ministry’s Technical and Vocational Education Division said a budget is set aside every year to be disbursed gradually to schools to buy necessary equipment.
“To resolve the equipment shortage issue, we began disbursing this year’s allocation last year, to speed up the process of accrediting these schools as approved training centres to run the PVMA.
He said the programme was temporarily suspended to allow the division to fully equip these schools before it resumes while schools that are already accredited are conducting the programme as per normal.
On the lack of trained SKM teachers, he said the division has begun the training process to tackle the issue.
While training takes only three months to complete, the official said due to the high number of teachers involved, it takes up to two years to complete.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said earlier this month that the ministry plans to standardise and park all the vocational skills training centres under one ministry to eliminate redundancy.
Some skills training centres currently fall under the purview of the Education and Youth and Sports Ministries.
Tan said the 5,504 students are being asked by the Human Resources Ministry to sit for an assessment known as the Recognition of Prior Achievement (RPA or Pengiktirafan Pencapaian Terdahulu), that formally recognises their existing skills and enables them to pursue further studies in other TVET institutions.
Education Ministry officials said a special task force was set up at the end of last year between the ministry and the Department of Skills Development at the national level to resolve this issue.
The ministry, added the officials, set up an internal taskforce in January this year and a state-level taskforce to facilitate accreditation issues on the ground.
The affected students will complete the assessment between July and August this year and gain a Level Two SKM certificate by the end of the year.
By the end of 2018, students are expected to be certified with a SKM Level Two.