With around 200 attendees, including a minister of state and as many as nine ministers of education of African nations, the first German-African Forum on Vocational Training and Education was a highlight of this year’s iMOVE activities.
Together with the German-African Business Association, iMOVE organised the conference for experts in the field which was conducted in English and French and took place on 20 November 2019 at the premises of the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin. The German government was represented by Professor Wolf-Dieter Lukas, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and by Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The qualitative advantages of practice-orientated vocational training provision, the added value from education and training for social and economic development, the role of women in education and training and, last but not least, projects and initiatives which support successful vocational education and training (VET) cooperation formed the focus of the event with the motto of “Shaping the Future of Employment”.
The forum followed on closely from the “G20 Compact with Africa Investment Summit” which took place for the second time under the patronage of the Federal Chancellery.
While African countries may differ in terms of their economic capability and development, they face similar challenges in the training sector. Vocational education and training in Africa suffers from a poor image within society and from chronic underfunding. Private sector involvement in the organisation of training is very limited and the content often does not reflect the needs of companies.
The comprehensive and systematic initial and ongoing development of skilled workers is regarded, however, as a crucial basis for continued economic development. Many African governments have therefore adopted a course of reform and are focusing in particular on the German dual model of vocational education and training, seen around the world as a pioneering model.
The Federal Government with their strategy “International VET cooperation from a single source” [Internationale Berufsbildungszusammenarbeit aus einer Hand] and the German education sector are supporting this development on the African continent with numerous activities, initiatives and projects.
In light of this, the event featured panel discussions involving high-ranking individuals, such as African ministers and representatives from policy making, educational institutions and training companies in Africa and Germany.
The ministers from Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, South Sudan, Togo, Chad and Uganda discussed their government’s reform efforts to date and national development plans for establishing and expanding vocational qualifications. This included the development and introduction of standardized curriculum and the opening of pilot schools, as well as improving both the image of vocational education and training and the involvement of businesses.
All African government representatives underlined their intention and desire to significantly intensify their cooperation with Germany in the education and training sector.
Training experts from business presented successful examples of German–African cooperation in a range of industrial sectors. It became apparent that numerous joint projects were already in existence—and in some cases had been for a number of years—and that future measures could be developed based on experience from these projects.