Young women in Malawi to benefit from 9m euro TVET project signed by UNESCO and EU

A 9m euro agreement signed between UNESCO and the European Union (EU) aims to boost the participation of young women in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

The Director for the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, Hubert Gijzen signed the agreement on behalf of UNESCO with the European Union (EU) Delegation in Malawi represented by Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann.

The grant will go to the Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP) and is part of the larger 33m euro contribution from the EU devoted to strengthening the sector.

During the signing ceremony, which took place in Malawi on 11 March, the Ambassador explained the contribution of STEP in addressing one of the key challenges in TVET, the low participation in TVET programmes, especially of young women.

He said: “UNESCO will be in charge of ensuring, among other things, that enrolment and retention rates of female and vulnerable students are increased.”

With its overall objective of empowering Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training in Malawi, it is directly responding to labour market needs for skilled professionals.

Changing the TVET landscape in Malawi

Professor Hubert Gijzen stated: “Today we are signing a very important partnership agreement that will change the TVET landscape in Malawi, and hopefully creates further spin off to other sectors in the country, in particular to infrastructure development, a key economic pillar under the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, and to youth employment, in particular for young women.”

He expressed his appreciation to the EU for taking the initiative to forge this strong partnership among key stakeholders in the sector and confirmed UNESCO’s full commitment to the partnership.

The Minister of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development, represented by the Director of TVET, Godfrey Kafere, thanked the EU and UNESCO for their commitment in supporting the Malawian youth.

TVET potentially a key driver of economic growth and well being

Over 60 per cent of the Malawi population is aged under 25 presenting a huge opportunity for change and transformation along with challenges. As currently provided in the country TVET needs improvement in the areas of:

  • access, retention and completion rates, especially of female students and vulnerable persons in TVET;
  • TVET teacher’s development and skills in the country;
  • the relevance of TVET programmes in both formal and informal sector;
  • the governance and management of TEVET regulatory bodies and training institutions.

However, as Professor Hubert Gijzen underlined, TVET has the potential to be a key driver of overall economic growth and well-being for all.

UNESCO’s commitment to TVET in Malawi

Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann said: “UNESCO has been selected as an implementing partner due to its longstanding commitment to TVET both in Malawi and around the world. The organisation has a wealth of experience and capacities which I believe will be essential for the successful implementation of STEP”.

One initiative focusing on TVET and the agro-food processing and construction sectors is the Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR) project. It aims to enable TVET through lifelong learning to contribute to transforming Malawi’s economy from import-dependent to export-led. UNESCO, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education’s Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training Authority are working together to achieve this.

UNESCO has also been providing policy support within the framework of the Cap-EFA project to revise the 2013 National TVET Policy and related Action Plan. Gender mainstreaming for TVET is also a flagship area of work with two booklets published to help increase women’s access, retention, and completion in TVET.