World Bank invests in vocational education in 3 countries

Up to 17 technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia are set to benefit from new World Bank financing that will improve their training and research capabilities and strengthen the delivery of quality education as they seek innovative solutions to Africa’s development needs.

The TVET investment is part of a broader US$230 million investment by the World Bank in the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration (EASTRIP) programme. It includes a national and regional International Development Association (IDA) credit as well as a regional IDA grant, aimed at implementing skills capacity building programmes in the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) countries in Eastern Africa for five years. The investment was announced last month in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) will be the regional facilitation unit for the programme.

The project will focus on improving the quality and accessibility of TVET education in the countries and supporting regional integration and regional economic corridors. The project will target the development of specialised technical skills in priority sectors that include transportation, energy, agro-processing, manufacturing, and information and communications technology.

Ethiopia has seven TVET institutions selected for the project, Kenya has six and Tanzania has four. The three countries were selected for the implementation of the project due to their performance in the area and their strong partnership with the World Bank.

According to Cosam Chawanga, chief principal for IUCEA’s Quality Assurance and Qualifications Framework, the project will be implemented in three components: strengthening selected regional TVET centres of excellence for high quality skills development in Northern Corridor Integration Project-related sectors; capacity building for national TVET systems; and enhancing regional collaborative capacity in TVET and project coordination.

“The final list of selected TVET centres of excellence is not yet available because some of the participating countries are still finalising the process, subject to approval by their governments,” Chawanga told University World News.

Chawanga noted that the investment in TVET does not reflect a shift away from university education towards technical training because, he said, TVET is considered an integral part of the education system that leads to the acquisition of knowledge and expertise relevant to society and individual development.

“In this context, TVET is seen as cross-cutting and is understood as extending from primary education to higher education. Furthermore, the idea is that skills development should be considered in a holistic way in all areas of training and learning, be they formal, informal or non-formal. Thus, TVET should not be considered as a competitor of university education but as an integral part within the entire education sector,” said Chawanga.

Like the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II) programmes also being spearheaded by the World Bank, students from the participating institutions and their partners are expected to benefit from high quality education and training in relevant subjects, while employers in targeted sectors and industries will have greater access to high quality and skilled personnel.

With this collaborative regional approach, the countries will share innovations and good practices in teaching and learning, and enhance cross-border research networks, according to a World Bank statement.