Prioritise investment in TVET system for Africa - AU Commission to member states
The Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) of the African Union Commission, Professor Mohammed Beldocine, has charged African countries to prioritise investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in order to build a sustainable prosperous future for the people.
He said prioritising TVET would help to unleash the potential of African youth and empower them with the tools to drive innovation, build resilient economies and steer affairs of Africa towards global competitiveness.
He said it was incumbent on nations to invest in vital infrastructure, leverage technology, artificial intelligence and cultivate partnerships that could propel TVET to the forefront of the African agenda.
“To achieve this, we must ensure that TVET is not used as a secondary choice but embraced as a first-class option free from the chuckles of stereotypes and misconception,” Prof. Beldocine said.
At the opening of the Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa (ATUPA) 2023 International Conference in Accra yesterday, Prof. Beldocine said TVET was the pathway that led to unprecedented opportunities and sustainable prosperity.
“Africa’s future prosperity hinged on our collective ability to invest in our greatest resource-our people,” he said.
The five-day event is being held on the theme: “Mainstreaming TVET for skills development, mobility and resilient economies in Africa.”
It has attracted representatives from the academia, governments and civil society organisations to discuss how to enhance TVET stakeholders’ sensitivity to the prevailing TVET and economic trends as well as Africa-specific instruments that can be harnessed for the renewal and consolidation of TVET programming in Africa.
It was also used to honour personalities from across Africa for their distinguished role in the promotion of TVET.
Let’s join hands
Prof. Beldocine said the challenges African countries faced in TVET might be significant, but it also presented opportunity for growth.
In his view, TVET allowed nations to build robust and adaptable economies, creating a workforce that could work and innovate amid challenges.
He, however, said the collective vision for mainstreaming TVET could be realised, if TVET was allowed to stand alone.
“We must join hands across nations, governments, businesses and civil societies to create an enabling environment for TVET to thrive,” he said.
He cited how the African continent had only nine out of 10 children at the age of 10 who were not capable of reading or understanding properly a simple text or doing arithmetic operations.
Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme had increased enrolment from 830,000 in 2016 to 1.4 million across the country.
He said the vast majority of those students, who were in boarding school and were fed three times a day, enjoyed several supports including free uniforms.
He added that in 2015 only two per cent of Ghanaian children could read and understand.
“The President and all of us were not happy about that and today we have raised it to 38 per cent.
“We are still not happy because 38 per cent still means 62 children read for understanding and that should not be our story two to five years from now,” he said.
The ATUPA Executive Board Chairperson, Dr Laila Abubacar, said Africa had now left the old system where TVET system was for failures.
He said nations now knew that for them to create employment for their youth, they needed to impact skills, which TVET was the way to go.
“Our curricula are supposed to integrate the standards that are required in our industries so that by the time our graduates leave universities and colleges, they are fit for purpose,” Dr Abubacar said.