Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) comprises education, training and skills development relating to a wide range of occupational fields, production services and livelihoods. It empowers individuals, organisations, enterprises and communities and fosters employment, decent work and lifelong learning thereby promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, social equity and environmental sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Agenda acknowledges the importance of TVET mainly, but not only, under Goal 4, 8 and 9, respectively on education; inclusive economic growth and decent work; and industry, innovation and infrastructure. SDG4, the education agenda, commits the international community to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. Three targets under SDG4 (4.3, 4.4 and 4.5) have an explicit mentioning of TVET covering issues related to access, relevance and gender equality.

The Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025 (CESA 16-25) is Africa’s response to the global agenda for sustainable development and reflects the aspirations of the African Union members. TVET and skills development are strategic objectives in the framework.

The Continental Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training [AU:2014] represents the regional guiding framework for TVET on the African continent. It sets out guidelines for the design and development of national policies and strategies in skills training, and guidelines for institutional roles and responsibilities in key TVET interventions.

The SADC Protocol on Education and Training (signed in September 1997 and activated in July 2000) seeks to promote a regionally integrated and harmonized educational system especially with regard to issues pertaining to access, equity, relevance, and quality of education interventions. In the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020, which is a guiding framework for the implementation of SADC’s regional integration agenda and programmes, TVET takes an important place. The SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 reflects the urgent need for the Region to leverage its abundant and diverse resources, especially on agriculture and mining, to accelerate industrialization through beneficiation and value addition. Skills development is an essential element of industrialization. The SADC Secretariat is currently working with member states to finalize the second Strategic Framework for the development of TVET in SADC (2018-2027).

With TVET and skills being at the center stage of the global and continental development agenda, it becomes necessary to transform, expand and enhance TVET at national, regional and international levels to enable systems to respond to the economic, social, cultural and environmental contexts of the communities and societies they serve. To respond to new demands, TVET systems should be transformed through 3 lenses: economic, equity, transformational. The major dimensions implied by those lenses are Life Long TVET; Greening TVET; Inclusive TVET; Digital TVET; and STEAMing TVET.

In response to this, UNESCO’s Recommendation concerning TVET (2015) considers new trends in TVET and provides an integrated and holistic approach to education and training that ensures the promotion of a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and competencies for work and life. The Recommendation sets out a transformative vision of TVET, one that “contributes to sustainable development by empowering individuals, organizations, enterprises and communities and fostering employment, decent work and lifelong learning so as to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, social equity and environmental sustainability.” This Recommendation formed the basis for UNESCO’s TVET strategy (2016-2021) which aims to support the efforts of Member States to enhance the relevance of their TVET systems and to equip all youth with skills required for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning, and to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a whole. UNESCO is working with Member States, UN Agencies and international, regional and bilateral organisations to support policy reviews and development, promote collaborative research approaches and capacity development, and foster cross-sectoral approaches.

Regional interventions

Within the context of UNESCO’s TVET strategy and guided by a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO ROSA and the SADC Secretariat, UNESCO is supporting SADC and its member states to implement this agenda for skills development and to foster TVET for enhancing the development of skills and competences for life. UNESCO is currently supporting the SADC Secretariat to finalize the second Strategic Framework for the development of TVET in SADC (2018-2027).

UNESCO has been/is implementing several TVET projects in the region such as the South-Korea funded Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR) project in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project was implemented from 2011 to 2016 and sought to influence sectoral programmes through public and private partnerships to improve knowledge base and capacity of TVET systems to develop evidence-based TVET policies. Through the first phase of the BEAR Project a total of 744 teachers received training and 12 new curricula were developed in the five beneficiary countries. In all five countries, significant progress has been made towards increasing the relevance of TVET to the needs of individuals and industry. Follow up activities of the BEAR project focus on supporting Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia to develop and institutionalise TVET EMIS to strengthen data and evidence to inform policy initiatives.

UNESCO ROSA is also partnering with the European Union (EU) and the Government of Malawi to expand and improve equitable and gender-balanced Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (TEVET) though the flagship Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP), which is being implemented in Malawi from 2016 to 2020. The project seeks to promote equitable and gender-balance access to TEVET; improve the quality and relevance of TEVET; and strengthen the governance and management of TEVET regulatory bodies and training institutions.

To inform evidence-based policy making, UNESCO has also commissioned research studies such as the UNESCO-SADC study of 2013 on the status of TVET in the SADC region, which was used to inform the first SADC TVET strategy. Other commissioned researches include a study on the situation of NQFs in the region (2017) and a review of TVET Policies (2016-ongoing with ILO). A TVET policy review has been completed for Namibia, is on-going for Zimbabwe and planned for Malawi.

Capacity building and the sharing of experiences among countries has been facilitated through the organization of multiple regional fora on TVET in the region, such as on TVET Qualification Frameworks and NQFs in 2016, on TVET in 2016, on TVET Teachers in 2017, on TVET Leadership in 2017 and on Work-based Learning in 2018.

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