Regional information sharing workshop on support for the operationalization of vocational training policies

Lome (Togo) – A regional information sharing workshop took place from 16 to 18 February 2017 in Lome, Togo on the initiative of IIEP Unesco’s Pôle de Dakar via its Vocational Training Expert Platform (Pefop). Held in partnership with Togo’s Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, the workshop brought together about fifty representatives from the 10 African countries of Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and also specialized networks and partners for vocational training in Africa.

At the opening ceremony, the Secretary General of Togo’s Ministry, Mr. Gnamine M. S. Agarem, said in his welcome remarks that he was delighted Togo had been chosen to host the proceedings of this important meeting. He further affirmed that the workshop came just at the right moment, when countries facing a lack of resources are having to pool their energy to overcome the major challenges for their development.

Thereafter, Mr. Naceur Chraïti, Head of Pefop at IIEP Unesco’s Pole de Dakar, said he was glad to be in Lome to share the results on identification of obstacles to the operationalization of vocational training reforms in the first countries supported by IIEP Unesco’s Pôle de Dakar, and to inform the workshop on progress in the Programmes contributing to the Operationalization of Reforms (Procor). Mr Chraïti also said the workshop was an opportunity to reflect on networking and ways of using different tools to develop the sharing process and strengthen capacities for vocational training.

The representative of Agence française de developppement (Paris), Mr. Christian Fusiller, thanked the government of Togo for its hospitality and talked briefly about the genesis of Pefop with funding from AFD. Prefop was launched in November 2015 in Dakar, Senegal and is working at present notably to build partnerships. To the participants, he spoke about the extent to which Pefop’s approach is based on evidence and stressed the importance of involving countries in the identification and analysis of obstacles to clear for the operationalization of vocational training policies.

The next speaker was Mr. Borhene Chakroun, Head of Youth, Literacy and Skills Development Unit at Unesco Paris. He talked about agenda 2030, which places great importance on developing technical and vocational skills, and particularly on access to and quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). At this moment in time, TVET should respond to new challenges and take advantage of technological change. Unesco has adopted a new strategy to adapt to the many changes with the goal of supporting TVET and giving young people and adults the skills required for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning in order to contribute in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Lastly, Togo’s Deputy Minister for Technical Education and Vocational Training, Georges Kwawu Aïdam, in the presence of Mr. Octave Nicoué Brouhm, Minister of Higher Education and Research, welcomed the participants to Lome "la belle" and stressed his support for Sustainable Development Goal 4, "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all". The Minister spoke about the challenges to tackle regarding the rising levels of youth unemployment and the informal sector, which absorbs about 90% of young people who have completed school. In this regard, he said, all crosscutting and crossborder platforms that make it possible to discuss fundamental aspects for the recognition of skills and qualifications, with a view to developing learning courses for lifelong learning are welcome. After these remarks, the Minister declared open the three-day workshop.

In this way, the opening statements set the ball rolling on the objectives of each of the actors. In the discussion that followed, emphasis was given to the realities and contexts in each country and to the relevance of the results presented in the report on the identification and analysis of obstacles to the operationalization of vocational training policies, which took place during the first phase in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire (in progress), Mauritania and Senegal. Several relevant recommendations were issued on the part of the partner countries, including one to further involve the vocational training beneficiaries themselves in the analysis process. The meeting set out the avenues for structuring a Procor. In this regard, the 4 partner countries affirmed that the advantage of this stage was to have made it possible to choose the economic sectors relating to each country. On the last day, the issue of pooling knowledge and tools was discussed extensively because it is of key importance. For pooling to be effective, it is necessary to identify resource persons to lead the project and agree a legal framework. The partner countries are of the view that it is necessary to build the awareness of stakeholders before beginning the Pefop process, clarify and further discuss qualifications and certification, and develop strategies for communication to facilitate these recommendations. Taking account of these different recommendations that are supported by the Pefop process will contribute to decompartmentalize and thereby foster the inclusion of various actors in efforts to implement reforms for vocational training in Africa.