Technical and Vocational Education and Training

Pole de Dakar © By Reg’ /
Over half of African youth do not have access to secondary education and technical and vocational training opportunities are scarce.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is a challenge in all African countries.

In most countries the enrolment rate in formal TVET at secondary level is 5 percent or less.

Non-formal TVET is predominant and often highly fragmented. Learning opportunities at the workplace, non-formal learning, private provision, and initiatives under various non-education sector ministries all tend to operate in a non-coherent way.

Governments and international institutions are paying increasing attention to TVET (it is one of eight priority areas in the African Union's Second Decade of Education (2006-2015).

But despite an increase in the number of African students in TVET, only a few governments in Africa are able to finance TVET at a level that can support quality training.

The demand is enormous. Three out of five unemployed in sub-Saharan Africa are young people, mostly surviving in the informal economy.

UNESCO's role

UNESCO Dakar works to keep TVET high on the political agenda of African governments, regional economic communities, and financial partners. TVET is being promoted to facilitate the recognition of skills and qualifications gained in the non-formal sector and ensure mobility between countries in the sub-region. A series of videos produced by UNESCO Dakar showcases successful examples of youth training in Benin, Nigeria, and Senegal. The videos are featured on this page. In Mali, technical and vocational education and training is being offered to youth in the conflict-affected regions of Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal. UNESCO Dakar has also been instrumental in developing a common format for TVET curricula and learning materials for West African countries.

In 2010, a working group (better known by the acronym of IATT for 'Inter Agency Task Team') was set up to strengthen the coherence of action and provide more support to countries in developing skills for youth employment. It comprises several UN agencies and institutions (UNESCO, UNDP, ILO, UNEVOC, etc.) and other partners such as ECOWAS and the Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

Current priorities

  • Developing certification frameworks (national and regional) to enhance TVET in terms of recognition and harmonization of diplomas. This will also improve the necessary linkage with the labor market and skills mobility within and between countries.
  • Testing innovative approaches. UNESCO Dakar supports for example the reform of TVET policy in Senegal. One experiment is Mobile Training Units (comprising trucks, tents, trainers, materials etc.) to provide short courses in disadvantaged areas. Initial results in Northern Senegal are encouraging and have generated much interest in The Gambia.
  • Improving monitoring and statistics. UNESCO Dakar, together with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, works on developing and disseminating quality statistical data and indicators to be able to identify more clearly the needs in the various sectors of TVET in African countries.
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