Vocational training: Three innovations at the heart of African territories

26 May 2021


Training session in the Pulaar language on the use of GPS, Kolda region, southern Senegal.

How do technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems adapt to the labour needs of local economies and territorial realities? Initiatives by private companies and civil society are often essential to complement the official offer of technical colleges and training centres. Three innovative projects are receiving technical and financial support from the IIEP-UNESCO Office for Africa through its Platform of Expertise in Vocational Training (PEFOP). 

In Burkina Faso, helping disadvantaged young people into employment

Guiding young people from A to Z, from orientation to placement in local businesses, once trained: This is the objective of the Christian Relief and Development Organization in Burkina Faso, with its Job Placement and Business Development Service (or SPEDE, in French). Backed by a network of technical colleges and training centres, SPEDE has been experimenting since 2019 with a new reverse approach, which makes the start of the training cycle conditional on the signing of a contract with a company in the Bobo-Dioulasso region, in the southwest of the country. This scheme, which is directly linked to the real needs of employers, targets young people who have dropped out of school or young adults with no qualifications, from disadvantaged communities. In 2020, more than 930 learners attended this programme. With the support of IIEP, the non-governmental organization now intends to have the SPEDE officially recognized by the Burkinabe Ministry in charge of TVET.

In Cameroon, promoting entrepreneurship among young women in crisis areas

Marked by violent conflicts, the rural regions of Cameroon's Far North have to deal with a fragile and underdeveloped educational and training offer. To fill the gaps, family schools have been trying for 15 years to organize agricultural training, as an alternative to the official TVET system, with very limited resources. They target isolated populations, especially young women, most of whom are illiterate. To join forces, the schools created FEREFAN: Fédération régionale des Ecoles Familiales Agricoles du Grand Nord. "IIEP-UNESCO Dakar's support consists of accompanying the member schools of FEREFAN in formalizing and sustaining this atypical training programme created by volunteers. The long-term objective is to have it recognized by the authorities at national level," explains Louise Herbaut, a consultant for IIEP Dakar. For the 2019-2020 school year, nearly 400 learners have attended these trainings, 80% of whom are girls. 

In Senegal, a national certification for training in local languages 

The Société de développement et des fibres textiles (SODEFIDEX) works with tens of thousands of family farms and cotton cooperatives, particularly in the southern third of the country. In the 2000s, the company began offering its own literacy courses, particularly for seasonal workers in the villages. It then developed more advanced vocational training programmes to meet the needs for new rural jobs linked to changes in agriculture. These courses are taught in the languages most commonly used by the region's farming populations, in particular Pulaar, Mandingo, and Wolof. In 2017, SODEFITEX wished to professionalize these training activities according to the competency-based approach, with the support of IIEP-UNESCO Dakar. New reference systems were thus created and validated by the Senegalese Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training. 

Following this first step, three new training curricula have been designed, for the professions of cotton farm manager, cultivation manager or plant production technician. It now remains to finalize the translation of all the documents and training content into local languages, with the Ministry's inspectors. This transcription concerns primarily Pulaar: the main language in the area. SODEFITEX aims to open five classes of around 30 people each year. Once trained, these technicians and cotton producers will in turn be able to train the farming population directly at their workplace in the villages.