Six African countries committed to enhancing higher technical education
On 30 March, a project formulation meeting was held within the framework of the China Funds-in-Trust Project Phase III: Higher Technical Education in Africa for a Technical and Innovative Workforce.
Six participating countries, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda, reintegrated their commitment in enhancing higher education institutions and systems to foster the talent reserve for national development.
“The project comes at the right time and highly relevant,” said Professor Vafi Doumbia, project focal point of Côte d’Ivoire, and Director General of Higher Education form the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. He underscored the importance in fostering employability and expect the project to “boost the employment rate of university graduates.”
59 participants attended the meeting, including the national project focal points nominated by the ministries responsible for higher education, national and international experts specializing in the higher technical education, project coordinators from higher education institutions, private sector representatives, and education specialists from UNESCO.
Six scoping studies teams were established to conduct needs assessment in the participating countries through researches and consultations with local stakeholders, which will lay the foundation for the formulation of in-country work plans relevant to the national contexts. During plenary discussions and breakout sessions, participants crafted a roadmap for the project formulation and inception phase in collaboration with eight UNESCO field offices concerned.
Initiated in October 2019 following the signing of a framework agreement between UNESCO and the People’s Republic of China, the CFIT Phase III project completed the project programming in October 2020, towards enhancing higher technical education to respond to the skill needs for development.
“Fostering links between institutions and labour markets will improve the professional skills profile of youth, improve employability, and boost entrepreneurship for youth men and women in contribution to the 2063 vision of the African continent,” said Mr Peter Wells, Chief of section of higher education at UNESCO. He highlighted the role of universities in propelling national development. “Empowering universities is critical for development as universities have taken on the social mission, on top of their traditional role in fostering learning and understanding.”
Prof. Olivier Sagna, national focal point of Senegal, Director of Studies and Cooperation for the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, welcomed the project in developing strategies at the institional level in Senegal. He said that the project, and its emphasie on skills training and entrepreneurship is “in line with the national priorities and policy on higher education.”
The CFIT III project partners with 12 higher education institutions in the project countries and will support universities to redesign, reform and develop competence-based curriculum informed by labour market needs analysis and the anticipation of skills driven by rapid technological advancement.
Ms. Maki Katsuno-Hayashikawa, Director of the Division of Education 2030 Support and Coordination expressed her expectation for this collaborative project. She said: “Through the exchange of experiences, knowledge and best practices, we hope the participating universities and countries will formulate initiatives and form beneficial partnerships not only among the partner institutions and project countries, but also be the lead of changes in their regions in higher technical education.”