Many returning readers have enjoyed the past articles we have covered on the World Bank funded EASTRIP project. If you missed these articles, there are links to them further down the article.
Now, we are very happy to present an opinion editorial from the world bank education team leaders in East Africa, written by Xiaoyan Liang, Kaboko Nkahiga, Kirill Vasiliev, Annet Kiura, Biruk Gabreyohannes, and Innocent Mulindwa.
Lets jump right in!
A Few Sparks Can Light a Prairie Fire: EASTRIP Contributes to Regional Integration and Excellence in TVET
Countries in East Africa, led by Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, have taken a big step towards regional cooperation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
On May 24th, 2022, education leaders from the three countries signed a communique in Addis Ababa to adopt the Regional TVET Qualifications Framework.
The adoption of the Regional TVET Qualifications Framework will facilitate mobility of students, staff, and skilled labor initially across the 3 countries and eventually the entire region.
People and labor mobility is an important part of Africa’s regional integration agenda. The free movement of people and related rights on entry, residence, and establishment is an essential pillar of the long-term goal of the Abuja Treaty to create a continental free trade area and common market.
While universities in the region have long been undertaking student and faculty exchange programs, regional or international cooperation in TVET is a relatively new phenomenon. TVET programs often aim for local and national markets including informal ones and can be difficult to scale up.
Demand for technical skills is increasing across Africa
However, as African countries industrialize and move towards regional integration to create one common Africa market, demand for specialized technical skills is on the rise across the continent.
Countries may find it challenging to produce all the skills and need to resort to export and import relevant skills. Without a common framework, it is difficult for the qualifications to be portable from one country to another.
This achievement was catalyzed by the East African Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP), a five-year project implemented by the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania through World Bank funding, to increase access and improve quality of select TVET programs in three countries and to promote regional integration.
The Regional Flagship TVET Institute (RFTI) model has been adopted as core strategy of the EASTRIP Project to achieve sustainable TVET development as well as regional integration. Currently EASTRIP is supporting 16 competitively selected RFTIs: 7 in Ethiopia, 5 in Kenya and 4 in Tanzania.
Under the EASTRIP Project, each RFTI specializes in specific sectors and occupations with corresponding TVET certificates, diplomas and degrees, recognized by national TVET regulatory authorities and often by industries and employers.
The Project’s key priority sectors, proposed by the governments and validated by experts, include manufacturing and agro-processing, transport and infrastructure, power and energy, information, and Communication Technology (ICT).
Countries and RFTIs are expected to complement each other towards the development of high growth sectors of the economies in the region.
For example, the Arusha Technical College in Tanzania specializes in technician training for hydro, wind and solar power industries, whereas Meru Polytechnic in Kenya specializes in technician training for construction including green construction.
The Ken Gen Geothermal Training Center, which is the EASTRIP RFTI for Geothermal Technology, was appointed by the Association of Power Utilities in Africa (APUA), to offer specialized training to the power utilities in Africa.
Regional collaboration achieves economies of scale
The EASTRIP support to the RFTIs are guided by the principles of industry linkage and institutional autonomy.
With a common quality assurance and management framework, RFTIs are being supported to institutionalize functional industry advisory committees, conduct market surveys and skills needs assessment, actively pursue industry certification in addition to regulatory approval, regularize graduate tracer study and employer satisfaction surveys.
RFTIs are being incentivized to send their staff for industrial attachment, increase their enrolment for female and regional students.
RFTIs signed performance agreements with the government through a five-year Strategic Investment Plan that commit the RFTIs to deliver concrete results in access, quality, and regional integration in return for the EASTRIP investments.
Three rounds of results verification show substantial achievement in expanding access and improving the quality of programs including the overall high graduate employments rates among the RFTIs.
RFTIs also benefit from intense technical support from the World Bank and its partners. From the very inception of EASTRIP, professional firms were brought to help develop the RFTI 5-year Strategic Plan.
During the implementation, the World Bank team trained the 16 RFTIs in project management, financial management, international competitive bidding, and establishing proper environmental and social safeguards measures to mitigate risks.
Bilateral partners from China and Korea have provided technical assistance and are continuing to support EASTRIP through scholarships for faculties and through various technical and capacity building events at regional, national, and RFTI levels. Numerous memorandums of understandings have been established in EASTRIP.
The regional approach also promotes peer learning among countries and institutions in sharing good policies and practices. Facilitated by IUCEA, the EASTRIP community and their partnership institutions as well as industries meet twice a year for a Technical Advisory Meeting (TAM) to share knowledge and experiences.
Globally, the flagship approach has been used and proven effective in not only serving the short-and medium-term needs of skills development but also in catalyzing broader national reform and injecting dynamism into the system. As the saying goes: a few sparks can light up the entire prairie.
Dr. Liang is the Lead Education Specialist and Regional Team Leader at the World Bank Group
Mr. Nkahiga is the Country Task Team Leader for Tanzania at the World Bank Group
Mr. Vasiliev is the Country Task Team Leader for Ethiopia at the World Bank Group
Ms. Kiura is the Country Task Team Leader for Kenya at the World Bank Group
Mr. Gabreyohannes is a Consultant at the World Bank Group
Dr. Mulindwa is the Regional Co-Team Leader at the World Bank Group
The TVET Journal previously interviewed the regional project coordinator of EASTRIP, if you are interested to learn more about the project, then this article below is definitely for you!
Now, what do you think? Any experiences which you would like to share? Comment below!