By Godwin Bonge Muhwezi
Members of the technical working group on harmonization of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) qualifications met in Dar es Salaam to validate the draft East African Qualifications Framework for TVET. The draft was developed after wide consultations with various TVET stakeholders in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania funded by the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP).
Speaking at the opening session of the validation workshop, the Chief Guest and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, United Republic of Tanzania, Prof. Eliamani Sedoyeka said, “the harmonized TVET Qualifications Framework is an important step in realizing regional integration through free movement of students and staff to acquire specialized skills from established RFTIs in specialized sectors which will promote regional and establishing bilateral agreements for mutual recognition of qualifications”.
Prof. Sendoyeka added: “To achieve the level of economic development required in the region, each of the countries in the region will need to open up and allow free movement of students and staff to acquire specialized skills from established Regional Flagship TVET Institutes (RFTIs) in specialized sectors which will promote regional integration”.
Dr. Xiaoyan Liang, the Lead Education Specialist at World Bank, said: “The economies in East Africa need more technicians, craftsmen and artisans who have hands on skills. Most of the employers in the manufacturing and service sectors need middle-level skilled workforce. In this sense, TVET has the potential to significantly contribute to reducing youth unemployment for sustainable socio-economic growth”.
Dr. Liang added: “Experiences from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) show that mutual recognition agreements are often used to facilitate the flow of skilled workers, allow workers’ qualifications to be recognized by other ASEAN countries, and permit them to work outside of their home countries. The European Union Qualification Framework helped reduce the bottleneck of labour movement”.
To effectively implement the regional TVET qualifications framework, there is need for policy reforms at national level. For instance, there is need for mutual recognition agreements to facilitate the flow of skilled workers, allow TVET qualifications to be recognized by other countries in the region, and permit skilled workers to work outside of their home countries.
“As the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in the United Republic of Tanzania, I would like to state that we support the process and pledge to undertake necessary policy reforms to facilitate mutual recognition of TVET qualifications and the regional occupational standards that will be developed through EASTRIP,” Prof. Sendoyeka said.
The Writer is a Project Communication Officer for EASTRIP at IUCEA.