Trinidad and Tobago: Policy on Tertiary Education, Technical Vocational Education and Training and Lifelong Learning, issued in 2010

© Jacob Haddon

Rationale of the policy

To meet the goals of the seven pillars in the Framework for Sustainable Development (2019), one being, ‘a more diversified, knowledge-intensive economy – building on the native genius of our people’, the policy was developed by the Ministry of Education in co-operation with a technical review committee, composed of various stakeholders. The tertiary education and technical vocational and education training sector in Trinidad and Tobago has grown rapidly, but there is still a need for more effective governance, coordination and management to achieve its objectives. To ensure that the educational system will meet all social and economic needs, as well as the expectations of the nation, the policy is driven by the principles of integrity, relevance, quality, access, accountability and performance.

Concept of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning refers to all learning activities undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective. The term recognises that learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom, but takes place in all areas of life and in a range of situations. Lifelong learning opportunities can be found in a variety of formal, non-formal and informal settings and are carried out through diverse delivery modes.

Main challenges

  • Mismatch of the educational outputs and the demands of the technologically-oriented labour market
  • Plethora of educational qualifications and titles results in public confusion
  • Government programmes overlap, lack of networking leads to duplication
  • Fragmented governance, weak coordination and planning; weak system of accountability
  • Weak basic skills at all levels impedes the smooth transition to a higher educational level or the workplace
  • Too many untrained and under-qualified teachers and administrators at tertiary, training and technical and vocational education level
  • Gender disparity among students and staff

Main targets and measures

  • Developing a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to facilitate greater horizontal and vertical mobility and avoid confusion with degrees and titles, also include non-formal and informal learning into the NQF
  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning
  • Revising and adjusting curricula for more relevance in the national and regional contexts
  • Accelerating the further development of alternative learning systems, e.g., distance learning programmes
  • Encouraging research activities for technological improvement and social development
  • Developing and implementing capacity building initiatives and promote sustainable human resource development
  • Ensuring cost-effective management and optimal use of resources
  • Establishing a data-driven system of performance monitoring to assess institutional effectiveness

All of the educational sectors and age groups are targeted in the policy, with a strong emphasis on youth and adults as the policy mainly concerns tertiary education and technical and vocational education.

Particular feature of the policy

The policy is very clear on the goals, priorities and strategies of the funding mechanisms for tertiary education and technical and vocational education. The overall goals of greater equity of access, efficiency in operations and improved quality of programmes and services entail a revision of funding priorities and approaches and an enhancement of sustainability and accountability. The role of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in financing tertiary education and technical and vocational education is outlined, as well as the structure of existing funding programmes for allocating grants and loans to students taking part in the respective programmes (e.g., GATE and HELP). Concrete measures to attain greater efficiency include the following: comparing the impact and outcomes of private and public tertiary education programmes to decide on better resource allocation; collecting more data if institutions are meeting performance indicators; conducting in-depth cost analyses to establish a fixed tuition fee; prioritising funding for research; promoting capacity-building for tertiary education leadership and management; and setting more fiscal incentives for the private sector to engage in investment.

References to other relevant documents:

Stakeholders involved in the development of the policy:

Stakeholders responsible for implementation of the policy:

  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education

Further readings and web links:

Issuing Body

Ministry of Education