Three countries in East Africa have adopted a new framework that will bolster the sector’s professional mobility and allow mutual qualification recognition.
Developed under the East African Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) with funding from the World Bank, the Regional Qualifications Framework for Technical and Vocational and Training (TVET) was ratified by Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania, and is expected to promote regional mobility of students and skilled workers in the region, according to an IUCEA communique issued on May 26.
The RQF, which includes 44 related regional occupational standards, will be implemented by “relevant government agencies and institutions” with the guidance of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), which hosts of the Regional Facilitation Unit of the five-year project,.
“We commit to mainstreaming the Regional TVET Qualifications Framework into national policies and qualifications frameworks, and in TVET education systems, and enforce effective implementation of the conceived purposes of the TVET Framework,” the communique stated.
The framework will, in due course, be extended to other East African Community (EAC) member states, such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The document will have many benefits, including exploiting economies of scale to lower costs of training for individual countries on specialised and industry certified programmes.
“It will also facilitate mobility of technology, promoting peer learning among countries and institutions, besides sharing of good policies and practices,” explained Assegid Getachew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Labour and Skills.
“I would also like to caution that although we have reached a great milestone in the EASTRIP project, the real and hard work begins now. The implementation of validated Frameworks, Approved Guidelines and setting up centres of excellence including the establishing an Education Quality Assurance Agency will prove the success of the project,” the minister added.
“The framework will also contribute to the harmonisation of TVET education systems at continental level beyond East Africa within the ambit of African Continental Qualifications Framework,” said Prof Mike Kuria IUCEA Deputy Executive Secretary.
“Although we have reached a great milestone in the EASTRIP project, the real and hard work begins now”
As the document moves to the implementation stage, he noted, key things will stand out, including the role of the private sector with a view to making the sector more involved in higher education, recognition of prior learning, and the role of the document as a key quality assurance instrument, he noted.
All TVET institutions in the region must synergize and play their rightful role for successful implementation of the project, noted Margaret Mwakima, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Vocational and Technical Training, who called on countries in the Eastern African region to the embrace and advance and work done under EASTRIP.
This is the second time that the regional has sought to unify its post-secondary education in less than ten years. Nine years ago regional governments with the leadership of the IUCEA kicked off the unification of qualifications in university education, culminating in the region being declared a Common Higher Education Area in 2017.