Basic English Language Skills in Non-formal Trainings

Having a grasp over Basic English language skills is vital for a better quality of life in a country like Fiji which has English as one its official lan­guages. For
22 Sep 2018 11:00
Basic English Language Skills in Non-formal Trainings
A basic communication skills training conducted in Namatakula Village, Korolevu.

Having a grasp over Basic English language skills is vital for a better quality of life in a country like Fiji which has English as one its official lan­guages.

For a nation to become proficient in this language, it is important the English language is embedded into the community training pro­grammes.

Merging vocational training with literacy education are important efforts towards empowering people in rural areas for a more productive livelihood.

Such trainings encourage women and men in rural and maritime set­tings to take up more active roles in transforming the lives of their families and communities.

Hence, such a strategy to include Basic English language skills has also been implemented into the very successful sustainable liveli­hood project.

Sustainable livelihood project

The sustainable livelihood pro­ject, which is a Fijian Government initiated project, was launched in Kadavu in 2012, with the vision to empower people in rural commu­nities to effectively utilise their resources, generate income and im­prove their standard of living.

Six years on, the project has grad­uated more than 21,000 participants with certificates of participation.

Through the Fiji National Univer­sity’s National Training and Pro­ductivity Centre (NTPC), the SLP offers skills training for sustain­able, self-sufficient living for people residing in rural and maritime ar­eas around the country.

The sustainable livelihood project is administered by the Division of Non Formal Education (DNFE) un­der NTPC.

There are 15 programmes offered under the sustainable livelihood project and communities are select­ed by province.

Provinicial administrators

The NTPC team holds discussions with the respective provincial ad­ministrators who then advise and approve the specific districts and villages that would host these train­ings.

Embedding Basic English Com­munication skills one of the new strategies implemented into the SLP training programmes last year was basic English communication skills.

This new addition enhanced SLP training programmes, aligning them towards competency based training (CBT), thus, making these training more relevant to the mod­ern day industry requirements and expectations.

Basic English communication

The basic English communication skills course imparts basic knowl­edge and skills in listening, speak­ing, reading and writing, inter-per­sonal skills and public speaking.

When SLP trainings initially started, the trainings were con­ducted in the Fijian language, and graduated many participants who today operate small repair shops or self-employed as mechanics in their neighborhood.

However, to boost productivity of people living in rural and maritime areas, it was important to enhance SLP trainings too.

A random Fijian may find him/herself conversing in the English language almost every day, either it be when visiting the neighbour­hood to buy bread, visiting a medi­cal clinic, or visiting a garage to get the car fixed.

Therefore, it is vital to incorporate English language skills in vovation­al training courses which would prove useful and relevant to partici­pants in their daily lives.

In this basic English communica­tion skills training programme, participants are taught and encour­aged to communicate ethically and responsibly.

They are also tasked with effec­tively delivering formal and infor­mal presentations, demonstrate positive group communication exchanges and respond effectively to cultural communication differ­ences.

The SLP provides trainings in more than 15 areas, such as cookery, plumbing, carpentry and joinery.

Hence, embedding basic English communication skills has proved helpful to participants, increasing their communication skills.

Participants in cookery training programme are able to read and share recipes, plan menu and write list of ingredients.

In plumber training programme, participants are taught of English language exchanges while talking to customers and suppliers.

The pathways of the sustainable livelihood project:

People learn a skill which they can use in their everyday life, hence, improving their quality of living.

The newly acquired skills can be used to earn an income or start small businesses.

The SLP trainings enable partici­pants to master skills in their com­munity environment.

They are involved in small engine repair, plumbing works, build­ing and repairing houses, sewing, small joinery works, floral arrange­ments, functions and catering.

Youths can use their skills and certificate as a pathway into FNU programmes.

Many people with SLP training skills are able to pursue tertiary education at the Technical College, FNU colleges, and at NTPC.

In a post-training survey, it was found that about 67 per cent of par­ticipants had acquired some levels of secondary education.

Seventeen per cent had under­taken tertiary education, but due to circumstances had to drop out.

By completing SLP training pro­grammes, these school leavers man­aged return to tertiary institutions for continuation of their studies.

SLP Certificates help gain em­ployment. Some participants upon completion of the SLP training programme were able to secure an employment.

According to post-training survey,

about 27 per cent of participants gained paid jobs both in Fiji and abroad after graduating.

This is a healthy indication of the demand for people with the right trade skills in the job market.

Moreover, the SLP trainings are also attended by people already working in the hotel, manufactur­ing and building industries, and have been successful at sustaining jobs in terms of pay, security and promotion.

Language is important for daily, basic communication needs.

It is also important for vocational training providers to deliver ef­ficient and holistic trainings by including English language skills to add value and improve the live­lihood of people living in informal economies.


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