UN project aimed at TVET sector enters second phase

Five African countries are set to benefit from the second phase of a United Nations project which seeks to strengthen national technical and vocational education and training, or TVET, systems and boost youth employment.

This was announced during a Better Education for Africa’s Rise, or BEAR, workshop organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and held in late September in Antananarivo, Madagascar, to validate proposed specific interventions for the TVET sector in Africa.

The BEAR II beneficiaries – namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda – have been organising two-day validation workshops to conclude the planning phase at country level, and agree on concrete actions to strengthen the national TVET systems.

The workshop brought together UNESCO experts and 55 representatives from ministries, TVET authorities, TVET institutions, vocational training centres and enterprises to agree on how to achieve relevance, quality and improved perceptions of TVET.

According to a statement from UNESCO, the validation workshop proposed specific interventions for TVET in a chosen sector, and created a platform for building synergies between stakeholders to ensure an inclusive consultation process and national ownership.

According to a conference statement, the BEAR II interventions will focus on specific sectors that are carefully chosen in each of the beneficiary countries for their potential to create formal jobs.

The project supports efforts in updating curricula, training teaching staff and engaging employers and enterprises to help create more effective TVET systems which will be linked to global efforts for implementing the UN’s Education 2030 Agenda, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025, and the UNESCO TVET Strategy 2016-2021.

During the workshop, UNESCO proposed that the textile industry be the lead sector for the project in Madagascar, following lengthy consultations with country experts. The consultations revealed that the textile industry is a part of Madagascar’s five strategic sectors, but is the only one that has not attracted the support of any international projects.

“With high potential for creating formal employment, the choice of the sector is expected to provide a positive impact on socio-economic development in the country,” said Madagascar’s Secretary-General of the National Ministry of Employment, Technical Education and Vocational Training, Georges Rakotonirainy.

Rakotonirainy lauded the BEAR II project, describing the textile industry as a national priority and calling for the strengthening of synergies between national institutions working in TVET.

In an interview with University World News, Borhene Chakroun, UNESCO’s head of the Section of Youth, Literacy and Skills Development, said the Republic of Korea-funded project aims to give young people a better chance of accessing decent employment or generating self-employment through improvements in the TVET systems of the five beneficiary countries.

“The overall objective of the BEAR project is to support national authorities together with the private sector through capacity building efforts to improve the relevance, quality and perception of TVET,” said Chakroun.

Chakroun said the focus on TVET relates to the capacity of this sector to equip young people and adults with the skills required for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning.

“The common issue identified in BEAR countries is that of a mismatch of skills supply and labour market demands, in addition to a general lack of demand for technical and vocational programmes among the youth,” he said.

In this regard, the BEAR project identifies the key need to improve the relevance, quality and perception of TVET in select beneficiary countries through specific sector interventions over a period of five years.

Borhene noted that the major activities planned include in-depth labour market analyses for the chosen sectors, the development of updated curricula serving labour market needs, training of TVET trainers, development of career guidance structures and organising skills competitions at national levels.

The BEAR project, according to Borhene, will be implemented in the beneficiary countries over a period of five years from 2017-21 in three phases: formulation phase (2017); inception and implementation phase (2017-20); and closure and scale-up (2020-21). At this stage, he said, we are nearing the end of the formulation phase.

The official launch of the BEAR II project is set to take place in the end of November.