Educationists from across the continent have committed to engage private sector players in skills development, more specifically in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Speaking at a TVET conference in Kigali, yesterday, Education minister Papias Malimba Musafiri said integrating private companies in TVET will promote youth employment.
“We want to promote public and private partnerships for TVET to respond to market needs. We need good policies and strategies that encourage investment in skills development. Engaging the private sector in TVET will equip graduates with relevant skills for employment,” he said.
Musafiri said expanding TVET will lead to economic growth and bring innovative solutions to various challenges in the country.
The African Ministerial Conference on Technical and Vocational Skills Development (TVSD) attracted about 100 participants from across the continent and beyond, including ministers in charge of TVET and representatives of the sector stakeholders.
Organised under the theme, “Promoting investment in skills and competencies acquisition by trainers and entrepreneurs in African countries,” the conference sought to create conducive conditions for TVET trainees to easily integrate employment skills into their trades, enabling them to significantly contribute to the national socio-economic development.
Oley Dibba Wadda, the executive secretary of Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), said prioritising TVET in African education will bridge the skills gap that the continent is facing.
“The 2012 ADEA meeting, held in Burkina Faso, found that the continent faces a skills gap, resulting into high youth unemployment levels and cross-border migration. In this regard, we are looking at technical, critical and cognitive skills to solve the problem across the continent and that has set us on the right track towards boosting employability,” the Ivorian said.
Wadda said the continent needs a thorough transition from traditionally colonial education to Africa-initiated education, which responds to needs of the continent.
“We have realised that technical and vocational skills are the key to the continent’s development but in some ways, colonial ways of teaching did not resonate with the reality and needs of the continent. Now there is a need to promote skills which are relevant to the continent,” she said.
“It is, therefore, important that governments and partners sit together and discuss how to address the challenges in the continent and find solutions which fit with each country’s context.”
Wadda noted that all TVET actors need most importantly to work on people’s mindset towards TVET.
“Some people think that TVET is for school dropouts and academic failures. It is important that we start shifting that thinking and make sure we value this sector because it is so crucial to African economies,” she said.
Ministers on private sector
Ministers in charge of TVET from various countries including Ivory Coast, Angola, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Niger, Liberia and Botswana, stressed the need for private companies’ engagement in TVET, saying governments alone cannot afford the sector’s cost.
“African economies have been growing but unemployment persists because of lack of skills and TVET is the solution. However, TVET is so capital intensive by nature that private sector engagement is needed to promote the sector. The long-neglect of TVET in African education has resulted into inadequate qualified human resource but this is the time to increase TVET pathways,” Kenneth Kgotla Autlwetse, the Motswana assistant minister for education and skills development, said.
Saku Siryon Dukuly, the Liberian assistant minister for TVET, said the entire continent should include adults and school leavers in TVET but insisted on involving enterprises, saying this education system is expensive.
Albert Nsengiyumva, Rwanda’s minister of state in charge of TVET, said the government has committed to partner with private companies in increasing the number and competencies of TVET graduates.
“We currently have over 94,000 in TVET schools, reflecting 40 per cent of all students but we want to the number to increase to 60 per cent by 2020. We are much concerned with the quality of trainers and the diversity of trades to meet the market needs. This is a big task which requires concerted efforts and, in this regard, we are encouraging investing in TVET,” he said.
Nsengiyumva said they are planning to integrate the unemployed university graduates in TVET to increase their chances to get employment.
Addressing the international TVET symposium, on Wednesday, Arnout Pauwels, the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda, said governments should work closely with private companies on TVET internships and called for concrete measures to ensure that both the companies and students benefit.