Tripoli, 15 April 2013:
The new government has begun spending its vast oil wealth by creating jobs for Libyans. Since the . . .[restrict]quality of education in Libya is not very high, the selected candidates will have to go through a rigorous training process. In a country where the young people are impatient for jobs, how can the government go about convincing them of the importance of recruitment exams, as a fair and objective standard for creating quality jobs and eliminating corruption
Also, what kind of objective standards can be developed that can take into consideration the fact that Libya essentially does not have a quality education system?
This article examines some options the government could consider undertaking in order to create a fair and transparent recruitment process, without having to deal with the negative side-effects of corruption or poor training.
Let’s begin by understanding how a lack of objective standards for recruitment like competitive exams can lead to corruption. Let’s take the teaching sector for example. Any person with a bachelor’s degree is eligible to apply for a teaching position. Since there is a large number of eligible candidates and a limited number of vacancies, this creates a demand and supply mis-match. The recruiting authority has a lot of influence in determining who is selected and who is not.
Even if the authority is seemingly incorruptible, desperate people looking for jobs will try to extract favours based on tribal or family loyalties. In other words, unless there is a transparent and objective recruitment process, where everyone feels they have a chance to participate, nepotism and corruption inevitably take root.
One way of resolving this problem would be going through a two-step pre-qualification process. In the preliminary round, the candidate could be screened, based on his or her certificates. Once candidates have cleared the first round, they are then enrolled into a free training programme say for one to two months, which would involve basic understanding of computer skills, English language skills if required, basic arithmetic and any other specialised skill, such as basic teacher training in case of hiring school teachers. At the end of the training, candidates will have to clear a paper-based test and an interview following which they could formally join the respective government institution.
To improve the quality of teaching, the government currently follows a system of temporary work for graduates where they are given an opportunity to hone their skills, by acting as teaching assistants. This could also be linked to the proposed two-step qualification process. The procedure looks ambitious because a lot depends on the logistics of conducting awareness about the new system, selecting qualified personnel for training and establishing a fool-proof centralised evaluation system for the paper-based test.
These are not too difficult to resolve, though. University professors can be asked to conduct the training programme in co-ordination with experts from foreign universities and bodies such as the EU and UN. A panel of seasoned and well-respected senior bureaucrats and professors can conduct the interview process. To save costs, a majority of the training can be pre-recorded digitally and be distributed, so that selected the candidates could watch them at home and thus attend less lengthy training.
I believe the promise of a job and a secure future based solely on the efforts of the candidate is what will make this programme a success. This system will eliminate corruption to a large extent. At least the process becomes fair and transparent and that will inevitably reduce dishonesty. Instead of looking everywhere for venal officials, the anti-corruption authorities and the police will only have to act based on complaints.
The reason the oil sector was able to be up and running and become functional despite the foreign manpower leaving is precisely because they have a systematic training process for all their employees.
A lot of investment goes into the recruitment, pre-service and in-service training programmes. Best practices and new research are shared in the form of seminars and conferences which have become integral to the way the oil sector functions. Even the previous regime made sure this was the case and the current government would not do anything to jeopardise the process. The authorities need to apply the same successful recruitment and training model to all government institutions, especially those that involve the general public directly, such as education, health, policing and banking.
The two-step pre-qualification process is the best chance for Libya to quickly improve the quality of its manpower. New technologies like IT can easily be leveraged through the use of the internet and video from job applications to disseminating course work. This will also have a multiplier effect.
There will be more demand for quality education from parents right from the school level itself in order to better prepare their kids for competitive exams. This will allow scope for the government to introduce more complex skills such as computer programming, leadership development and critical thinking, at the school level itself. Building the human resource of a country has always proven to be a great use of government money.
Simply giving away money, without ensuring quality manpower, will only inflate the Libyan economy. A focus on training, objective standards for recruitment based on competitive exams and leveraging the power of IT, the internet and video can go a long way toward securing Libya’s future. The success of the oil sector needs to be replicated in other sectors of the economy.
Now is the time to get started. I hope Libya will find the courage to do the right thing.
Chetan Pinto is a Training and Education consultant and the creator of the New Teaching Manifesto – a methodology for developing critical thinking and creativity among school and college students.
The views expressed in Opinion articles do not necessarily represent those of the Libya Herald [/restrict]