Better Education for African Rise (BEAR II Project) today came to a close with the five East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Madagascar submitting their evaluation reports and holding a discussion on the lessons learnt during the six-year stint.

BEAR II Project, which rolled out in 2017, is a joint project of UNESCO and the Republic of Korea, designed to benefit the TVET Sector in these five countries. This is the second Edition of the project, since its inception back in 2011, when it was rolled out in the SADC countries. Project implementation covered the period 2017-2021 with a one-year extension to end on December 31, 2022.

The main objective of the project was to improve the relevance, quality and perception of their Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems in the benefiting countries, in contribution to global efforts to implement the Education 2030 Agenda, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (2016-2025), and the UNESCO Strategy for TVET (2016 – 2021 and 2022-2029).

To address the identified issues, the BEAR II project supported each beneficiary country in transforming their TVET systems in a perspective of sustainable development through specific sectoral interventions and capacity-building activities in areas such as the Agro-processing sector (Ethiopia); Environmental sector (Kenya); Textiles industry (Madagascar); Agro-processing and Post-harvest management (Uganda); Agribusiness and creative industries (Tanzania). Among the overall TVET stakeholders in each country, the project work specifically with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education, Madagascar’s Ministry of Employment and TVET, Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports and Tanzania’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

During the opening ceremony on 15th November 2022, the Director General TVET Authority Kenya Dr. Kipkirui Langat noted that BEAR II Project has achieved a lot in the country and has provided lessons that will guide future projects.

“The project has supported the development of policies to guide the TVET Sub-Sector in Kenya, like the Open Distance and Electronic Learning (ODeL) policy, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) policy framework, Career Guidance and Counselling Framework, and Quality Assurance Manuals. The project has also established the National Skills Getaway for Kenya, a platform that will be useful in the sharing of necessary information among youth and other TVET stakeholders,” said Dr. Langat.”

Dr Langat called for further discussions with partners, UNESCO and the Republic of South Korea to establish more collaborative avenues of ensuring that the impact of the project is sustainable and possibly identify new areas of further collaboration.

Professor Hubert Gizjen, the Regional Director UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa has lauded the African continent, acknowledging its rich diversity and endowment of human, natural and cultural resources.

He pointed out that the achievements of the BEAR II project will be a stepping stone going into the future, as UNESCO plans to roll out a strategic BEAR III in Central and Western Countries.

“The project has made incredible strides in strengthening TVET systems in the region and consequently promoting access to decent jobs by the youth. We have focused on skills because they are vital in poverty alleviation and job creation for the youth and also in the achievement of SDGs. TVET has the potential to drive economic growth and wealth for all,” he said.

Prof Hubert noted the project has provided a good breeding site for the improved image of TVET and curriculum development, giving an example of the integration of Greening into the TVET system.

Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Mr. Ezekiel Machogu, who was represented by Deputy Director State Department for TVET Joseph Kanyi, said that the Ministry is investing heavily in digitalization, appealing for more partnerships going into the future.

He said that the government has made long strides through the recognition of Prior Learning as a way of embracing the youth who are skilled but lack formal training, to increase their employability by getting access to certification.

Madagascar Minister for Technical Education and Vocational Training Madam Gabriela Rahantarinima acknowledged the success of the project since it was founded on the national needs of the five benefiting countries of the BEAR II project.

“The Project was designed to equip young people with skills which are in aspiration with their respective countries’ economic needs and also have access to the job market. I urge all of us to pick the positive elements from the evaluation report and continue implementing them,” she noted.

In Ethiopia, BEAR II project has achieved standardization of curricular and module development with implications for improving the quality of training and learning.

Ameseginalehu, on behalf of TVET Ethiopia, pointed out that the Ethiopian National Skills Gateway and digital portals have been developed as a result. However, Ethiopia experienced a setback in the implementation of the project, thanks to the covid-19, delays and staff turnover.

Japhet Ng’eno, Kenya’s Chapter lead, reported that the project reviewed curricula as well as established occupational standards through the private sector framework. In Kenya, at least 400 TVET trainers and managers were trained on 21st-century skills based on the modules developed. This included also, capacity building for trainers on the use of Learning Management Systems.

Uganda reported that Covid-19 was a major setback in the implementation of the project. They recommended proper environmental sustainability strategies to be deliberately embedded in the project and resources for the promotion of capacity building to ensure a peaceful and clean TVET.

Tanzania reported that the project was implemented within the government’s existing structures. Deadatus Banzi, representing Tanzania Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TAVETA) affirmed that the BEAR II project in Tanzania can be described as a success, after achieving a 100% engagement of key TVET leaders and decision-makers.

Madagascar was not left behind saying the project achieved a fair share of its objectives. Their report recommended for digitalization of TVET through BEAR III project as it was done in the wake of covid-19 times.

On day two of the Closing Forum, the delegates were taken through the Career Guidance Framework, which was developed under the BEAR II project.

The objective was to raise awareness about the role and importance of effective career guidance to enable access to decent work, and careers and support growth efforts during the economic recovery, based on the example of BEAR II project. The event was used to share good practices and lessons learned on career guidance within the BEAR II countries.

The other objective was to share the Regional Career Guidance and counselling Framework and identify shared challenges to the development of career guidance systems as well as local specificities linked to local contexts.

The workshop also discussed the Career Guidance framework, recommendations and implementation plans.

While making submissions, Dr. Mercy Maina said career guidance is an essential springboard in the realization of the achievements and insights harnessed from the BEAR II project.

She said career guidance and counselling make information about the labour market and about educational opportunities more accessible by organizing, systematizing and making it available.

The inter-regional BEAR II report has spelt out a framework that should be embraced collectively. It affirms the need to ensure special needs students are catered for, in terms of Developing competencies.

The harmonized report recommended an establishment of an inter-regional committee that will oversee the implementation of the Career guidance framework. In doing this, Dr. Mercy says individual countries will ensure uniformity in the implementation journey.

Participants were drawn from Korean Government, UNESCO global and local representatives, IIWG on Career Guidance and Counselling, Representatives from all the BEAR II countries (both government and the provide sector), Ministries of Education, State Departments and representatives from TVET directorates, Ministries of Labour, and ICT, TVET associations and international partners.

Kenya had representatives from Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS); Teacher’s Service Commission (TSC), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD); Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions (KATTI), Career Guidance Institute (CGI), College of Career Guidance and Development, Kenya National Association of Private Colleges (KENAPCO), National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA), Council of Governors – Education Committee, Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat, University Associations, Kenya Education and Management Institution (KEMI).

TVET Authority representatives were led by Director General Dr. Kipkirui Langat.