UN-supported strategy for vocational education seeks to boost skilled Afghan workforce

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23 Jan 2014

UN-supported strategy for vocational education seeks to boost skilled Afghan workforce

KABUL - The Government of Afghanistan and a United Nations agency responsible for promoting international cooperation in education launched a national strategy on technical and vocational education and training earlier this week in their bid to increase the country’s skilled workforce.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the five-year national strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday.

“UNESCO’s focus on literacy, youth and adults is closely linked with the transition from literacy to skills, building strong human resources for Afghanistan,” said the UNESCO Representative in Afghanistan, Paolo Fontani, in his remarks at a launching ceremony, while also reconfirming the significance of the National TVET Strategy for the development of the country.

UNESCO has described the strategy, which is the first ever sector-wide TVET plan for the country, as “a watershed for the provision of vocational training and skills development” in Afghanistan.

According to a UNESCO news release, the strategy marks a renewed commitment to a coordinated approach to TVET and is a guiding document for all stakeholders to strengthen the four main pillars of the TVET system: governance, access, quality and financing.

The strategy also provides a vehicle for aligning international aid to the national agenda and increasing donor support for education and labour sectors, the UN agency noted.

In his comments at the launching ceremony, the Deputy Education Minister for Technical and Vocational Training, Asef Nang, said that the strategy provides a “central platform” for renewing coordination in the TVET sector and bringing together government, civil society and the private sector.

Mr. Nang also called for “a harmonized and coordinated approach between all partners in order to implement the strategy effectively.”

On the occasion, the Deputy Minister for Labour at MoLSAMD, Hosamuddin Hamrah, said that the strategy was fundamental to ensuring a stable future for Afghanistan. He pledged his commitment to implementing the strategy.

The World Bank has said previously that job creation is the main challenge to the Afghan economy. A 2012 report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that there are currently around 823,000 unemployed Afghans. It added that more than 400,000 Afghan youth enter the labour market every year and the country has “an increasing need to generate employment opportunities for its new labour market entrants, along with those who are already un- or under-employed.”

According to UNESCO, the National TVET Strategy is the result of three years of collaboration and consultation between government, development partners, civil society and the private sector.

It is jointly owned by the MoE and MoLSAMD, with the technical support provided by UNESCO through its Capacity Development for Education for All (CapEFA) Programme.

The CapEFA Programme funded the strategy development and finalization process and will partially contribute to strategy implementation alongside other donors. The Afghan Government and the international community will need to allocate more resources for full implementation of the strategy.

“This is a big step forward for Afghanistan, bringing more coherence to the TVET sector,” said the head of UNESCO’s education programme in Afghanistan, Yukiko Matsuyoshi.