Ministers root for upgrading vocational training to spur industrial growth in Africa

29 Apr 2024
Aspyee Admin
Ministers root for upgrading vocational training to spur industrial growth in Africa
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 Education ministers from sub-Saharan Africa on Tuesday renewed their commitment to revamping vocational and technical training for the continent's youth in a bid to accelerate industrialization.

Speaking at a three-day forum in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the ministers stressed that improving the skills of Africa's youth in applied science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is key to the continent's leap into the fourth industrial age.

Kenya is hosting the sixth edition of the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) Forum, which brought together education ministers, donors, and researchers to discuss the role of technical and vocational education and training in driving Africa's socioeconomic transformation.

In his opening remarks, Kenyan President William Ruto noted that bridging the technical skills gap through education, research, and training will enable African countries to build the industries of the future.

"We need to elevate the fields of science, technology, engineering, and innovation in our quest to tackle challenges facing the continent like climate change, food insecurity, and unemployment," Ruto said in a speech read on his behalf by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

The PASET Forum is being held under the theme of "Leveraging TVET (technical, vocational educational and training) in the knowledge and skills ecosystem for Africa's industrialization."

Ruto said Africa's tertiary institutions should become centers of excellence in research, innovation, technology, and skills transfer to promote the growth of a knowledge-based economy and agribusiness.

Claudette Irere, the Rwandan minister of state for education and chair of the PASET Governing Council, said creating a critical mass of youth with technical and vocational skills should inform Africa's quest for resilient and equitable growth.

Irere added that for Africa to reap the benefits of globalization, the continent should re-skill its youth and embed them in the green economy and advanced manufacturing.

Convened by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, the World Bank, and the Nairobi-based International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, the sixth PASET Forum will focus on key thematic areas, including artificial intelligence, climate change, food security, materials science, energy, data science, and mining.

Muna Salih Meky, practice manager for education in eastern and southern Africa at the Education Global Practice of the World Bank, said the continent should leverage the technical and vocational skills of its youth to accelerate climate-resilient growth.

Meky added that investment in modern equipment, combined with policy reforms, is key to transforming Africa's vocational training centers into hubs of research and innovation that underpin industrial progress. ■