AFRICAN UNION UNION AFRICAINE
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P. O. Box 3243 Telephone: 251 11 551 7700 Fax: 251 11 551 7844
Meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Ministers Of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF II+) 29-31 May 2007
Strategy to Revitalize
Technical and Vocational Education and
Training (TVET) in Africa
List of Abbreviations 3
Executive Summary 5
1. Background and Introduction 17
2. Current Status of TVET in Africa 20
3. International and African best practices and strategies 27
4. Priority TVET areas 32
5. Strategic Policy Framework 34
5.1 Key strategic issues 34
5.2 Guiding principles 36
5.3 Main goal and vision of strategy 37
5.4 Strategic objectives 38
6. Strategy Implementation 41
6.1 Implementation structures 42
6.2 National Vocational Qualifications Framework 43
7. Strategy for non-formal TVET and
Pilot projects in post-conflict areas 43
7.1 Non formal TVET 43
7.2 Pilot projects in post conflict areas 44
8. Key policy issues 47
9. Policy roles and recommendations 49
10. Strategy evaluation 51
11. The challenge of globalisation 52
12. Conclusion 53
List of Abbreviations
AU African Union
BAA Bureau d’Appui aux Artisans
BOTA Botswana Training Authority
CBOs Church Based Organisations
CBT Competency Based Training
COTVET Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training
DRC Democratic Republic of Congo
ICT Information and Communication Technologies IIEP International Institute for Educational Planning ILO International Labour Organisation
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
NGO Non Governmental Organisation
NQF National Qualifications Framework
NVQF National Vocational Qualifications Framework NVTB National Vocational Training Board
NVTI National Vocational Training Institute OIC Opportunities Industrialisation Centre SAQA South African Qualifications Authority SETAs Sector Education and Training Authorities SITE Strengthening Informal Training and Enterprise TEVETA Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship
TVET Technical and Vocational Education and Training UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
VETA Vocational Education and Training Authority
The author is grateful to Director of HRST Department of the African Union Dr. B.O. Tema, the team of the Division of Human Resource and Youth Dr. Raymonde Agossou and Mr. Darafify Ralaivo, both of the same Department, for their useful comments and suggestions for improving the initial draft strategy. Special thanks go to all the participants at the Technical Experts Meeting convened by the HRST Department to discuss the draft documents. Their contributions greatly helped to sharpen the focus and enhance the quality of the final document.
1. Background and Introduction
There is a fresh awareness among policy makers in many African countries and the international donor community of the critical role that TVET can play in national development. The increasing importance that African governments now attach to TVET is reflected in the various Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers that governments have developed in collaboration with The World Bank. One of the most important features of TVET is its orientation towards the world of work and the emphasis of the curriculum on the acquisition of employable skills. TVET delivery systems are therefore well placed to train the skilled and entrepreneurial workforce that Africa needs to create wealth and emerge out of poverty. Another important characteristic of TVET is that it can be delivered at different levels of sophistication. This means that TVET institutions can respond to the different training needs of learners from different socio-economic and academic backgrounds, and prepare them for gainful employment and sustainable livelihoods. The youth, the poor and the vulnerable of society can therefore benefit from TVET.
The African Union (AU) has a vision of “an integrated, peaceful, prosperous Africa, driven by its own people to take its rightful place in the global community and the knowledge economy.” This vision is predicated on the development of the continent’s human resources. In its Plan of Action for the Second Decade of
Education (2006 – 2015), the AU recognises the importance of TVET as a means of empowering individuals to take control of their lives and recommends therefore the integration of vocational training into the general education system. The AU also recognises the fact that vast numbers of young people are outside the formal school system, and consequently recommends the integration of non-formal learning methodologies and literacy programmes into national TVET programmes.
It is within this framework that the African Union Commission is spearheading the development of a new strategy to revitalize TVET in Africa. The objectives of the strategy are:
; To revitalize, modernize and harmonize TVET in Africa in order to
transform it into a mainstream activity for African youth development,
youth employment and human capacity building in Africa;
; To position TVET programmes and TVET institutions in Africa as vehicles
for regional cooperation and integration as well as socio-economic
development as it relates to improvements in infrastructure, technological
progress, energy, trade, tourism, agriculture and good governance;
; To mobilize all stakeholders in a concerted effort to create synergies and
share responsibilities for the renewal and harmonization of TVET policies,
programmes and strategies in Africa.
This document is not prescriptive. A credible TVET strategy must necessarily fit into an individual country’s socio-economic context. The intention here, therefore, is to present a strategic policy framework and a set of practical recommendations to inform national policies and action plans aimed at promoting quality and relevant technical and vocational education and training.
2. Current Status of TVET in Africa
TVET systems in Africa differ from country to country and are delivered at different levels in different types of institutions, including technical and vocational schools (both public and private), polytechnics, enterprises, and apprenticeship training centres. In West Africa in particular, traditional apprenticeship offers the largest opportunity for the acquisition of employable skills in the informal sector. In Ghana, the informal sector accounts for more than 90 percent of all skills training in the country.
In all of Sub-Saharan Africa, formal TVET programmes are school-based. In some countries, training models follow those of the colonial power. In general however, students enter the vocational education track at the end of primary school, corresponding to 6 – 8 years of education as in countries like Burkina Faso and Kenya, or at the end of lower or junior secondary school, which corresponds to 9 – 12 years of what is called basic education in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Swaziland. The duration of school-based technical and vocational education is between three and six years, depending on the country and the model. Some countries like Ghana, Senegal, and Swaziland in an attempt to expose young people to pre-employment skills have incorporated basic vocational skills into the lower or junior secondary school curriculum. Oversight responsibility for TVET is shared in general between the ministries responsible for education or technical education and labour or employment, although some specialised vocational training programmes (in agriculture, health, transport, etc.) fall under the supervision of the sector ministries.
With a few exceptions, the socio-economic environment and the contextual framework in which TVET delivery systems currently operate on the continent is characterised, in general, by:
; Weak national economies, high population growth, and a growing labour
; Shrinking or stagnant wage employment opportunities especially in the
; Huge numbers of poorly educated, unskilled and unemployed youth;
; Uncoordinated, unregulated and fragmented delivery systems;
; Low quality;
; Geographical, gender and economic inequities;
; Poor public perception;
; Weak monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and
; Inadequate financing, poor management and ill-adapted organisational
TVET in Africa is delivered by both government and private providers, which
include for-profit institutions and non-profit, NGO and Church-based
institutions. In almost all countries, non-government provision of TVET is on
the increase both in terms of number of institutions and student numbers.
This trend is linked to the fact that private providers train for the informal
sector (which is an expanding job market all over Africa) while public
institutions train mostly for the more or less stagnant industrial sector. Private
providers also target “soft” business and service sector skills like secretarial
practice, cookery, and dressmaking that do not require huge capital outlays to
deliver. A limited amount of in-company or enterprise-based training also
takes place in some countries; however, this type of training is often
dedicated to the sharpening of specific skills of company employees.
3. International and African best practices and strategies
The current status of TVET in Africa is not all about weaknesses. TVET systems in a growing number of countries are undergoing or have undergone promising reforms that are designed to build on the inherent strengths of the system. The major reforms concern the setting up of national training bodies, and the enactment of laws to strengthen national vocational training programmes. The need to link training to employment (either self or paid employment) is at the root of all the best practices and strategies observed world-wide.
National Training Authorities have been set up in many countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Tanzania. Ghana has also recently passed an Act of Parliament that establishes a Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) which will have overall responsibility for skills development in the country. In order to achieve greater coherence within the diverse TVET system, some countries have established National Qualifications Frameworks. The South African National Qualifications Framework provides a mechanism for awarding qualifications based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes prescribed by industry. The framework allows for accumulation of credits and recognition of prior learning, which promotes the culture of life-long learning. Employers also support vocational and technical training financially by paying a levy of 1% on enterprise payrolls. In Benin, a Bureau d’Appui aux Artisans (BAA) has instituted an innovative system of complementing the skills of traditional apprentices and
master craftsmen. A similar support system for the Jua Kali informal sector in Kenya was rated highly successful.
From outside Africa, two training models stand out for mention: the centralised Singaporean model and the dual system practiced in Germany. In Singapore, a National Manpower Council ensures that training is relevant to the needs of the labour market. Training also includes the inculcation of shared cultural values and attitude development. The dual system of vocational training in Germany allows for learning to take place in a vocational school and in an enterprise concurrently. Approximately, 70% of all school leavers, aged between 15 and 19 years undergo training under the dual system. The dual system promotes the linkage of vocational training to the world of work.
4. Priority TVET areas
A recent survey conducted by the AU on the state of TVET in 18 African countries points to a number of priority areas for vocational training in Africa. The agricultural sector receives the highest priority, followed by public health and water resources, energy and environmental management, information and communication technologies, construction and maintenance, and good governance. The general recommendations from the member states include the development of appropriate competency-based curriculum in these areas and compulsory implementation of TVET programmes for students in strategic fields such as entrepreneurship, computer literacy, agriculture, and building construction. The promotion of handicrafts and other indigenous technologies was also rated as important for Africa’s development.
5. Strategic Policy Framework
5.1 Key strategic issues
The key issues that the proposed TVET strategy seeks to address are the following:
; Poor perception of TVET
The public and even parents consider the vocational education track as fit for
only the academically less endowed. In many countries, students entering the
vocational education stream find it difficult, if not impossible, to proceed to
higher education. There is the need to make TVET less dead-end.
; Gender stereotyping
Some vocational training programmes like dressmaking, hairdressing, and
cookery are associated with girls - very often girls who are less gifted
academically. In Benin, for example, such girls are derogatorily referred to as
following the “c” option of the secondary school curriculum: la serie “c” –
couture, coiffure, cuisine!
; Instructor training
The delivery of quality TVET is dependent on the competence of the teacher; competence measured in terms of theoretical knowledge, technical and pedagogical skills as well as being abreast with new technologies in the workplace.
; Linkage between vocational and general education
In general, vocational education and training forms a separate parallel system within the education system with its own institutions, programmes, and teachers. This situation tends to reinforce the perception of inferiority of the vocational track. It is therefore important to create articulation pathways between vocational education and general education.
; Linkage between formal and non-formal TVET
It should be possible for students who drop out of the school system to learn a trade to re-enter the formal vocational school system to upgrade their skills, either on part-time or full-time basis. Similarly, regular vocational school students should be able to acquire relevant practical skills in the non-formal sector.
; Linkage of TVET to the labour market
The ultimate aim of vocational training is employment. TVET programmes therefore have to be linked to the job market. In this way, the socio-economic relevance of TVET can be enhanced.
; Traditional skills, business management and entrepreneurial training TVET programmes in Africa should help develop indigenous skills associated with the manufacture of traditional artefacts and crafts. As employment opportunities in the formal sector shrink, the acquisition of business management and entrepreneurial skills for self-employment becomes a major imperative in the design of vocational training programmes.
; Harmonisation of TVET programmes and qualifications
Education and training can contribute to uniting the peoples of Africa. This is possible if individual country training programmes and qualifications can be harmonised into a coherent system of mutual recognition of competencies. Portability of TVET qualifications across national frontiers can become a factor of integration in Africa.
5.2 Guiding principles
The guiding principles that are considered the major drivers of a TVET strategy
for Africa are: access and equity, quality, proficiency, and relevance. The others
are employability, entrepreneurship, efficiency, and sustainability. The strategy
should also promote linkages and partnerships, responsible citizenship,
conservation of resources and respect for the environment, and articulation pathways throughout the system.
5.3 Main goal and vision of strategy
Taking into account the key strategic issues and guiding principles, the main goal of the strategy may be stated as follows:
Promote skills acquisition through competency-based training with proficiency testing for employment, sustainable livelihoods and
The vision of the strategy is to position TVET as a tool for empowering the peoples of Africa, especially the youth, for sustainable livelihoods and the socio-economic development of the continent.
5.4 Strategic objectives
The broad objectives of the strategy are i) to deliver quality TVET, ii) assure employability of trainees, iii) improve coherence and management of training provision, iv) promote life-long learning, and v) enhance status and attractiveness of TVET.
i) Deliver quality TVET
Training for high-quality skills requires appropriate training equipment and
tools, adequate supply of training materials, and practice. Other requirements
include relevant textbooks and training manuals and qualified instructors with
experience in enterprises. Competency Based Training (CBT) can also
enhance quality. Traditional apprenticeship, particularly as practiced in West
Africa, is competency based. CBT is actually learning by doing and by
coaching. It is necessary to incorporate the principles and methodology of
CBT into the formal technical and vocational education system. The delivery
of quality TVET is also closely linked to the building of strong, professional
management and leadership capacity as well as a suitable qualifications
framework and monitoring mechanism to drive the entire system.
ii) Assure employability of trainees
Assuring the employability of trainees begins with effective guidance and
counselling of potential trainees in the choice of training programmes in
relation to their aptitude and academic background. Employability
presupposes the acquisition of employable skills that are related to the
demands of the labour market. Tracer studies which track the destination of
graduates in the job market can provide useful feedback for the revision of
training programmes so as to enhance the employability of trainees.
iii) Improve coherence and management of training provision