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Wina Technical School: Building Technical Capacity of the Youth

by :- Simon Weldemichael

Technical and vocational schools play a central role in responding to challenges associated with development today and in the future. In order for such schools to be effective they need to remain responsive to a range of issues, including the fast-changing technology and the needs of students and the society as a whole.

Wina Technical School, which is located in Nakfa, is one of the five technical schools in the country that provide the youth with relevant skills that allow them to have a career. Its mission is to produce innovative, creative, committed, and confident youth that could play a decisive role in the national development of Eritrea, and it trains students who come from all over the country.

Wina Technical School was established in 1985 in Arag during the war for liberation. Its first generation of students graduated in 1988, three years prior to Eritrea’s independence. It was re-established in 1997 in its current location, Nakfa, as part of the initiative to expand vocational and technical education all over the country. Since its establishment, the school has graduated 4000 students, a third of whom are female. Graduates of the school serve in various capacities throughout the country.

The school gives training in six different fields: auto mechanics, building construction, electricity, general metal woks, machine shop and woodwork. Mr. Kaleab Zeru, Director of the school, said in addition to their specialization, all students are taught English, mathematics, physics and chemistry as well as supplementary subjects such as computer application, Auto CAD, and technical drawing.

The school, which has 41 teaching and 48 administrative staff, provides full accommodation to both students and teachers. The teachers and the administrative staff know the students intimately. The student-teacher ratio, in particular, makes it easy for teachers to get to know their students well and give them timely and appropriate assistance. Most of the teachers are engineers and have very good theoretical and practical knowledge of what they teach. And they engage in continuous learning for their professional development.

I met and interviewed as many students as I could, and they all assured me that the school provides a welcoming environment and that they are satisfied with all the services they get, including their accommodation and food. In short, they said, they are learning in a safe, secure, and comfortable environment. Amina Mohammed, a second-year student from Keren who is studying Electricity, succinctly described her stay at the school as being a “home away from home.”

The government is working to ensure that the training given at technical and vocational schools is in sync with the current development objectives and priorities of the country. Whereas students who are inclined to the academy complete their high school education and sit for the school leaving certificate exam in preparation for higher education, those who prefer to go to vocational or technical schools complete tenth grade and then join a technical school to learn a trade before joining the workforce. There are five technical schools in the country — Wina, Dekemhare, Hagaz, Asmara, and Maihabar technical schools – that offer specialised training programs that take two years to complete.

Wina Technical School has emerged as an important institution in technology-based human resource development that will define the future of Eritrea. As is often affirmed, the future of Eritrea will be decided not by the natural resources it has but by the human resources it has developed. While I was touring the workshops at Wina, I came across students who were learning how to operate high-tech machines and inspiring posters, hanging on the walls, that read “Vocation is dignity; We learn for your development; and Dirty hands bring clean money.” These inspirational posters are likely to have an impact on the attitudes of the students.

The primary objective of the training programmes offered by Wina Technical School, as explained by Mr. Mr. Kaleab, is to prepare the youth for life by developing their intellect, skills, and talents. And the school has good relations with the residents of Nakfa and does its best to fulfil its social responsibilty. Its students and teachers actively engage in communal and municipal affairs of Nakfa.

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