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 Prof Papier represents UWC on African Union's Continental Working Group

​Prof Papier represents UWC on African Union's Continental Working Group


Prof Joy Papier, Director of UWC’s Institute for Post School Studies,  was recently appointed to the African Union’s Continental TVET Expert Working Group which held its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa on 21-23 September 2015 under the auspices of the AU Commission’s Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology. 

Addressing youth unemployment is clearly a major concern of governments across Africa, and the strengthening of technical and vocational education (TVET) is seen as key to improving the skills profile and employability of youth and adults, especially women. Against this background the African Union Commission has developed a Continental Strategy for TVET which will be advocated vigorously across the continent, and they have put together a team of experts to support the rollout of the strategy. More specifically, the working group is expected to provide technical advice for the implementation of the strategy, particularly in the development of instruments for TVET long term planning, policy development, monitoring and evaluation. The Continental Strategy is a guiding document which takes into account the unique contexts of particular African countries, but sets broad goals which all countries can aspire to. It also seeks to encourage learning and sharing of good practices across borders.

Prof Papier sees this as an exciting development in a previously marginalised sector of education and training, whose time has come. Much still has to be done to raise the profile and esteem of vocational education, therefore initiatives such as this are invaluable. At the kick-off meeting in Addis, the expert group also had the task of judging a competition which had invited entries from TVET institutions in an attempt to give recognition to the ’20 most promising models in TVET’. As this was the first time such a competition had been run by the AU, it was seen as a learning experience for the organisation. Nonetheless there were some fascinating examples of good practice, and 10 of the winners will be participating in an exhibition at the end of October 2015. The AU hopes that this will inspire other TVET providers to share their good practices with others on the continent in future competitions.

While the job of the expert working group (of which she was also elected as co-chair) seems daunting, it is evident that the TVET strategy is enjoying high-level support in the AU, and that there is a strong sense of urgency about changing negative perceptions of vocational education. Prof Papier is enthusiastic about being able to make a contribution, but says the notion of an ‘expert’ is misleading as there is so much to learn, and one has to be open to that.


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