Africa’s young population is on the brink of rapid growth, and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. This demographic surge, if harnessed effectively, could be the key to unlocking increased productivity and fostering stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent. However, despite economic growth, Africa faces a significant challenge in providing adequate employment opportunities and lagging behind in education and skills development. In response to this urgent need for transformation, the African Union has declared 2023 as the “Year of Educating an African fit for the 21st Century.” As part of this initiative, the African Union, in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the African Union’s Department of Education Science, Technology, and Innovation (ESTI), and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), supported by the German Development Cooperation through the Skills Initiative for Africa programme (SIFA), organized the Africa TVET Regulators Conference from 30th November to 1st December 2023.
The Africa TVET Regulators Conference is a collaborative initiative aimed at building the resilience and strengthening governance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems in Africa. TVET is essential for the continent’s economic development as it provides the necessary skills and knowledge for the youth to enter the workforce, contribute to their communities, and ultimately drive the continent’s growth and prosperity.
The two-day conference aimed to address the fragmentation and underfunding of TVET systems in Africa, leading to low-quality training and a shortage of skilled workers. Focus was on digital transformation and governance of TVET systems, aligning with the TVET Strategy and AU strategy for the digital transformation of education in Africa.
Key Themes of the conference were: Demand-oriented TVET for the African continent, Regulation of TVET Systems in Africa including discussions on the current state of TVET in Africa, Review a strategy for blended TVET as part of the initiatives to implement AU Digital Education Strategy, Advocacy for the implementation of various approaches, models, and tools in strengthening skills development systems in Africa and the promotion of collaboration and partnerships among TVET regulatory bodies. The conference also aimed at developing a strategy and action plan for the digital transformation of TVET in Africa using Open and Distance Learning (ODL).
Discussions during the conference included country experiences on digitalization and technology integration in TVET, leveraging ODL approaches, skills anticipation and matching through sectoral approaches, industry/private sector partnerships in workforce development, and strengthened quality apprenticeships, to facilitate transition from training to jobs.
The Africa TVET Regulators Conference 2023 was a pivotal event, bringing together key stakeholders to shape the future of technical and vocational education on the continent. Countries that participated were: Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Senegal, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Morocco, Sierra Leone, and Chad. Also participating were the Caribbean Association of National Training Authorities (CANTA), UNESCO and ILO.
In his opening remarks Robert Okinda, COL, Canada mentioned that the Commonwealth of Learning was supporting countries through the “Skills for Work initiative” with models, approaches and competency standards for blended TVET and open education resources to strengthen training in institutions.
Dr. Kipkirui Langat, Director General of TVET Authority (TVETA), Kenya, said by the end of the two days, we hope to share insights on strengthening the sector and harmonizing quality assurance, including the TVET strategy and having a networking for collaboration.
Nicholas Ouma, Senior Youth Advisor, Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), African Union Commission, speaking on behalf of the Commissioner, said having Education as the Theme of the Year 2024 is a significant step that is expected to shine a continental spotlight on building resilient systems for increased access to inclusive, quality and relevant Education in Africa. He added that TVET regulators play a pivotal role in ensuring the quality, relevance, and effectiveness of TVET provision. They are the stewards of TVET systems, safeguarding standards, promoting innovation, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders. Their work is essential to equipping the workforce with the competencies required to drive economic competitiveness and societal well-being.
The TVET Regulators Conference was closed by the Cabinet Secretary of Education, Kenya, Hon. Ezekiel Machogu Ombaki, commended the conference participants and mentioned that it was very important to share experiences from all over Africa. He further noted that the most important resource at the moment that Africa has are the youths and implored the TVET regulators to make it upon themselves and ensure that they are fully skilled. Kenya, he said, was honoured to host the conference and will continue to advocate for strengthened TVET systems in Africa.