13.05.2012 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Desperate need to educate and train young Africans

The lucky few - students in Côte d'Ivoire © UNESCO/Hervé Hout-Marchand

"There is an alarming need for creating education and training opportunities for African youth," says Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of UNESCO's Regional Office in Dakar.

She speaks on the occasion of the Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training to take place in Shanghai, China from 13-16 May 2012.

Three out of five unemployed in sub-Saharan Africa are young and the youth make up half of Africa's population.

"We face a situation where millions of young Africans have finished primary school thanks to governments efforts in the past decade," Ndong-Jatta says.

"These children are now young people wanting to pursue their education in order to find work," she adds.

The Director stresses the need to scale up investments for quality education and ensure technical vocational and skills development for decent jobs and employability of youth and adults".

600 million more people

Worldwide, the working-age population will increase by an estimated 600 million over the next decade. Creating productive jobs for their citizens is thus one of the major challenges facing societies everywhere.

Recognizing the urgency of this situation, some 800 education specialists and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, industrial leaders and entrepreneurs will attend the International Congress in Shanghai.

The main objective of the conference is to identify ways of transforming TVET, which is considered a key part of the response to both employment issues and the construction of green economies and societies.

The poor cousin

“High quality TVET is surely one of the best investments a country can make, especially when it is made available equally to girls and boys and women and men,” said Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education. “But it is treated as the poor cousin of mainstream education. As a result, its potential as a motor for providing the new knowledge, skills and attitudes required for today’s world has been seriously neglected. Congress will seek to turn this around.”

UNESCO Dakar is represented by the Director as well as Herve Hout-Marchand, TVET coordinator in Africa.

Hosted by the Chinese Government, the Congress is organized by UNESCO with support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), The World Health Organization and the European Training Foundation (ETF).

Huge potential

Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta says that we need to use the huge potential of the youth.

"Today there is over a billion young people worldwide, that means that we have millions of ideas, millions of opportunities and millions of young people who want to be part of the workforce, who want to be integrated and who want to have a voice," she says.

According to ILO, the acceleration of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa during the 2000s has not resulted in a strong improvement in labour market performance, despite some progress in comparison with the 1990s.

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