The Eastern Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) has been launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Three East African countries will participate in the project including Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
The project supports the development of highly specialized Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs as well as industry-recognised short term certificate level training, and will target regional priority sectors in transport, energy, manufacturing and ICT. EASTRIP will be financed by the World Bank as an IDA loan of $210 million and a grant of $83 million. $8 million of the grant will go to The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) to facilitate and coordinate the project and implement regional initiatives that would promote the mobility of students and faculty within and beyond the region and to establish a community of practice of TVET in the region.
The project was officially launched by the Minister of State for Science and Higher Education, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hon. Dr. Abdiwasa Abdilahi. He thanked the World Bank for considering TVET and approving the project as an IDA credit and grant. “We are all aware of the magnitude and significance of TVET role in developing countries such as ours, and we also know TVET is currently at an infant stage,” he said.
Hon. Abdilahi noted that the low recognition of TVET has contributed to its low perception status. “Thus it needs our attention and active engagement to bring the status of TVET up to speed to where other nations are currently.”
According to the World Bank EASTRIP Team Leader Xiaoyan Liang, a quality demand-driven TVET system can be a powerful engine for youth skills development leading to employment and poverty alleviation, and for economic restructuring and transformation, as already demonstrated in the Republic of Korea, Singapore and China, where TVET has been used as an instrument and channel for technology transfer and skills upgrading of workers.
In 2010 the Republic of Korea converted a selected number of high schools into vocational meister high schools that partner with companies to create educational experiences tailored to the needs of the workforce.
The World Bank Country Director for Regional Integration, Deborah L. Wetzel, stressed the need for Africa to industrialise and integrate. “Low productivity and capacity impede the diversification, industrialization, and modernization progress, and if not addressed could impede and even reverse economic growth. Industrialization and Regional Integration are key development and transformation strategies for Africa,” she said.
“Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania represent the initial group of countries working together to establish Regional Flagship TVET Institutes that will not only provide the skilled workers required by the growing economies but also, as the word “flagship” entails, become shining stars to trigger and guide continental wide TVET reform.”
World Bank Practice Manager, Safaa El Tayeb El – Kogali, said by the end of the project a total of 60,000 youths will be trained. “The project is a flagship that will set standards and that’s what we hope to create. We hope that more and more countries will join and we hope that this will be the beginning of a longer term process of upgrading skills for youths.”
Based on government nomination and competitive selection, 16 Regional Flagship TVET Institutes (RFTIs) were selected from the three participating countries. Each flagship will specialize in specific sectors and occupations with niche programs in highly specialized TVET diploma and degree programs, as well as industry recognized short-term courses. EASTRIP will strengthen the capacity of the 16 RFTIs to produce skills for the regional sector markets in transport, port management, energy, light manufacturing, and ICT.
Prof. Mike Kuria, the Deputy Executive Secretary of IUCEA, the Regional Facilitation Unit of the project pledged IUCEA’s “commitment and determination to make EASTRIP a truly transformative project not only for the three participating countries but also for the rest of East Africa and beyond the borders of the region.”
By the end of the five year project, the 16 institutes will have at least doubled their capacity to collectively enroll 20,000 students on an annual basis in both long-term and short term training programs in the targeted disciplines. Employers, such as major regional infrastructure projects will benefit from an expanded and more qualified pool of skilled labor.
At the launch, some of the TVET institutes signed MOUs with industry partners to collaborate in the development of demand-driven training programs, student internships, faculty attachment, and share of latest training technology, scholarships, and other win win partnership programs.
The project is expected to close in December 2024.