The link between technical education and the private and public productive sector is essential to ensure that technical education meets the expectations of the companies and the profiles they look for. In order to propose new ways of linking these two sectors, the Regional Technological Centre of East Flanders (RTC Oost-Vlaanderen) visited Ecuador from the 22nd to the 26th of September 2014.
Regional Technological Centres in Flanders
The Flemish Government installed a Regional Technological Centre in each province eleven years ago. They are platforms that promote synergy between the education sector and the business world.
Regional Technological Centres work on the following issues:
- They support technical schools to help students acquire up-to-date skills geared towards the labour market. This is done by looking for new machinery, or innovative expertise in a particular area in companies or in higher education institutions that can be shared by all technical schools in the province that offer the same curriculum. An example is a state-of-the–art tractor that is borrowed from a company, installed in a big technical agricultural school and all other agricultural schools from the area can go and practice on the tractor.
- They train teachers to get updated on new developments.
- They undertake actions to improve the value of technical education in society.
Regional Technological Centres in Ecuador?
Emmanuel Depoortere, coordinator, and Liza Stormens, technical expert of RTC Oost-Vlaanderen, provided specialised technical assistance to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, both at national level and decentralised level, to analyze the institutional conditions for the implementation of regional technology centres, either zonal or on district level.
In various workshops and presentations both in Quito and in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas officials and delegations from the Ministry of Education at the central and decentralised level, representatives of businesses and Chambers, higher education institutions, representatives of the decentralised autonomous governments and principals and teachers of technical schools actively participated.
On the one hand, the analysed the implementation of a structure like a Regional Technological Centre in the light of the local context. They closely looked at the legal, financial, administrative and planning aspects. On the other hand, together with technical schools, companies and higher education institutions, they worked on the elaboration of two concrete projects of collaboration on infrastructure and capacity development. One was defined in the area of metal construction about signal spot welding, and the other in the area of agriculture, about diseases and plagues.
The advantage of these projects was immediately clear: all schools that offer these curricula in the vicinity of Santo Domingo, will be able to benefit from these collaboration projects and companies in the area offer strong discounts on equipment and are willing to give free training.
The visit of RTC Oost Vlaanderen elicited a very strong interest in the concept of a Regional Technological Centre and Emmanuel and Liza also returned with many new thoughts and ideas.