Higher Education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

© UNESCO/P. Arora

UNESCO has a long-standing mandate in higher education. Target 4.3 of SDG 4 aims to “by 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university”. 

Education 2030 devotes considerable attention to skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); the acquisition of technical and vocational skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship; the elimination of gender disparity and ensuring access for the vulnerable.

UNESCO provides technical support to Member States to review higher education strategies and policies in order to improve equitable access to quality higher education and enhance mobility and accountability. It develops and monitors normative instruments; produces knowledge and information; promotes knowledge-sharing across borders; facilitates policy dialogue; promotes and supports renovated research capacities in higher education institutions and contributes to enhanced national capacities.

Since the 1970’s, UNESCO has initiated six regional conventions in the Asia-Pacific region on the recognition of higher education qualifications with the aim to promote the mobility of students and professionals across borders. UNESCO also advocated for the ratification of the UNESCO Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific, also known as the Tokyo Convention that revised the 1983 Bangkok Convention. 

The Tokyo Convention recently came into force on 1 February 2018 and represents a landmark that reflects the new trends on the recognition of higher education qualifications in the Asia Pacific region. It will provide a framework for the mutual recognition of higher education qualifications through increased information sharing and transparency, taking into account various aspects such as grading procedures and quality assurance schemes.

In addition, UNESCO’s TVET Strategy (2016-2021) aims to support the efforts of Member States to enhance the relevance of their TVET systems and to equip all youth and adults with the skills required for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning, and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a whole.

In addition, the Strategy has the following priority areas:

  1. Fostering youth employment and entrepreneurship;
  2. Promoting equity and gender equality;
  3. Facilitating the transition to green economies and sustainable societies.



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