PEFOP: looking back on seven years of transforming TVET in Africa
Since 2015, the Platform of Expertise on Vocational Education and Training (PEFOP) has been working for youth employment in Africa. Through this large-scale initiative IIEP-UNESCO Dakar, together with its partners, has contributed to strengthening and renovating the continent's technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems. From the development of public-private partnerships, the implementation of the validation of acquired experience, pooling resources between African countries, the production of knowledge, to training senior executives in the steering and management of TVET... discover PEFOP’s impact.
In Africa, one in two people is under 25 years old and the population is the fastest growing in the world. Employability is therefore a major issue for the future of the continent. It is based on these observations that the PEFOP story began in 2015, under the impetus of the French Development Agency (AFD).
Initially, IIEP-UNESCO Dakar was mandated to implement a roadmap targeting a few countries in Francophone Africa. The objective was to mobilise and equip not only the ministries in charge of TVET, but the broader ecosystem of technical and vocational training actors involved in the field: companies, public and private actors, trade unions, etc. With two main convictions: the training offer must be piloted according to real economic needs - and professional integration must be placed at the heart of all TVET processes to favour the transition between training and employment.
Three main components
Between 2015 and 2022, PEFOP, together with its partners, has been working in three areas simultaneously:
- Technical support to countries, aimed at accompanying and accelerating the implementation of "renewed" TVET policies.
- Networking, knowledge production and experience sharing activities at the continental level between TVET sector actors.
- Support for innovation in TVET, to encourage experimentation and build on experience.
2018 was a turning point for PEFOP, which opened to new activities and developed new partnerships for action. A particular feature of this second phase of the project is the development of the new training course: PGEFTPfor African managers in charge of steering and managing TVET, as well as new activities and interventions in African countries, beyond the initial scope.
Technical support: bringing all key players to the table
Many African countries have embarked on reforms of their vocational training systems over the past fifteen years. However, their operationalisation has often been complex and sometimes slow to produce the desired effects. Analysing the situation at national and local level to identify the bottlenecks has always been the first step favoured by PEFOP. Thus, in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal, the technical support approach was initiated by a diagnosis of the obstacles to the operationalisation of vocational training reforms.
Each analysis then led to a set of action plans, some of which were specific to the sectors of activity or regional contexts of each country. (The Plans d’action sectoriels territorialisés). More broadly, PEFOP sought to encourage public-private partnerships in TVET, and to move the needle on issues as diverse as the competency-based approach, validation of prior learning and training of trainers. In total, a dozen technical support missions were conducted in nine countries across the continent throughout the project.
Collaboration with PEFOP in Mauritania has made it possible to develop innovative activities, particularly, regional partnership frameworks, which bring together all training stakeholders, employers, companies, and trade unions. These partnerships make it possible to develop training projects based on the identification of real training needs at regional level.
Sharing, networking and knowledge: federating and creating synergies between African TVET actors
Over the past seven years, PEFOP has co-organised more than a dozen international events and regional workshops aimed at bringing together a community of African TVET system stakeholders. Not to mention the many webinars, conferences and workshops that were held online, due to the health situation. Thus, from Dakar to Nairobi, Lomé or Cotonou, the issues of the quality of TVET systems , alternative methods of financing the sub-sector or public-private partnerships were the subject of exchanges and sharing of experiences between the French- and English-speaking countries of the continent.
I immediately saw the potential of this South-South dynamic driven by PEFOP. To allow African countries to really exchange and share their good practices in terms of vocational training, that did not exist (...) The success of this project is also due to the fact that it was able to instil sustainable solutions, realistic in terms of quality/price, and complementary to the models promoted by the European partners.
These numerous networking activities of PEFOP have resulted in particularly innovative practices and instruments. This is particularly the case for the Platform for the Pooling of Vocational Training Resources and Tools. "Developed with the support of the PEFOP, this platform allows UEMOA member countries and other adhering countries, such as Chad, to share their resources, repositories and training programs, to adapt them to their own context," explains Amidou Bancé, Permanent Secretary of the Consultation Framework of Ministers in charge of Employment and Vocational Training of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). Since its launch, more than 325 national training resources have already been shared and opened for pooling.
Knowledge is also essential in these sharing activities which allow actors to reinforce each other. Thus PEFOP has designed and published, with the help of continental and international experts, studies on the most relevant themes for the renovation of vocational training systems in Africa.
PEFOP is also a very rich and active web portal, which will continue to inform African TVET stakeholders of the latest news in the sub-sector and share key publications from IIEP-UNESCO and its partners.
Three Innovative Projects on Track
Innovation in TVET has been a major focus of PEFOP. Following a call for proposals in 2017, three projects were selected in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Senegal for technical and financial support. Although these three experiments are part of very different contexts, they respond to the same challenge: to rethink vocational training through the prism of the territories, to meet the specific needs of local economies and realities on the ground. Or, in other words, to accompany the decentralisation of TVET systems by integrating mechanisms for consultation with local actors. Among the projects selected is that of the NGO CREDO, which trains, and places disadvantaged young people in local businesses in Burkina Faso.
Focus on the experiences of FEREFAN in Cameroon and SODEFITEX in Senegal
PEFOP has also provided technical and financial support to the Federation of Family Farm Schools of the Far North of Cameroon (FEREFAN). For more than fifteen years, this Federation has been offering alternative and informal training to young people, in response to the realities of this rural region, which is affected by poverty and armed violence, and where schooling is poorly developed, particularly for girls and women. IIEP-UNESCO's support, through the PEFOP, has made it possible to formalise the "Rural Producer" training, with the creation of a set of skills, training booklets for crop and livestock production, and practical information sheets. Since then, requests for training have increased compared to previous years - as has national interest in this innovative approach.
This experience with the PEFOP has enabled us not only to structure our training offer but also to gain institutional visibility and to inspire other agri-ecological regions of the country, which now wish to adapt the system.
For the Federation, the next step is to officially register its alternative training courses in Cameroon's national TVET system, as soon as the accreditation procedures are established, as the national certification framework is currently being developed.
The third innovative winning project comes from a private actor, the Société de Développement et des Fibres Textiles (SODEFITEX) in Senegal. It aims to have some of its vocational training courses recognised in local languages (initially Pulaar and eventually Mandingo and Wolof), through the establishment of a national certification).
Learn more about the collaboration between IIEP-UNESCO Dakar and SODEFITEX in the framework of the PEFOP.
PGEFTP: a unique training course in Africa
Launched in October 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, IIEP-UNESCO Dakar's TVET leadership and management training is another major achievement of the PEFOP project. Two cohorts have already been trained, about 80 people in total from all over Africa, and UNESCO-IIEP is planning to offer the PEFOP training in English as well as preparing future French-speaking cohorts.
In Madagascar, Holimalala Angela Ratovobarimanana is one of the very first French-speaking people to be certified as PGEFTP.
I learned a lot about the general TVET environment, especially through sharing experiences with other participating countries. The content of the training directly relates to my job duties and my daily problems. I am currently a member of the Inter-ministerial Technical Committee for the updating of the Financial and Economic Simulation Model of the Education Sector Plan of Madagascar, and I am applying the knowledge acquired during the PGEFTP training.
Multi-stakeholder and multi-level governance, recognition of non-formal training pathways, economic demand-driven management... over the past seven years, PEFOP has succeeded in laying the groundwork for a new paradigm of TVET management in Africa. In line with its 11th medium-term strategy, IIEP-UNESCO Dakar is determined to continue its efforts in favour of youth employment and growth on the continent, together with its financial partners.