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Remarks by Katrin Hagemann on the occasion of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Young Africa
Thank you for inviting me today on this auspicious occasion to celebrate with you, Young Africa. Happy Birthday! You are no longer a teenager!
The EU is strongly committed to support Botswana's efforts in transforming its education and training systems in order to increase the quality of education and training provided. Quality on its own, however, is not enough. We are all aware that Botswana needs to diversify its economy and create more employment. For this to work, education and training has to become more relevant to the needs of today's and tomorrow's labour market.
The EU Delegation, together with the Government of Botswana, have defined Technical and Vocational Education and Training (often referred to as TVET), as a priority for our future cooperation. We have agreed with the government on the support to TVET policy and reforms, by providing knowledge, technical capacity and financial support. We are preparing a 3-years programme involving a support of 10M EUR complemented by technical assistance of 3M EUR. The programme is foreseen to start in the course of 2019.
The EU will also allocate 100.000 EUR to a communication campaign to counter prejudice against TVET, because the current image of TVET needs to be improved. TVET shall no longer be seen as the last possible option for those who have failed the system, but as a desirable career path with interesting financial opportunities and personal development objectives. For this campaign to be effective, the EU will partner with non-governmental organizations and with the Ministries involved in Education and Training to make technical and vocational careers be attractive to young people [and their parents].
Quality and relevant vocational education and training can provide people, especially young people, with the knowledge, skills and competencies required for the jobs of today or tomorrow. Better skills training can help support decent work and more equitable and inclusive growth. Improved skills training can also be the bridge between education and the labour market, supporting the transition from youth into adulthood. Providing pathways for young people into the world of work is one of the greatest development challenges of our era. We all know that TVET enhances employability but, by itself, does not create employment: we need the close-involvement of the private sector and civil society organizations in order to ensure that training is in line with labour market needs and opportunities.
In Botswana, an effective implementation of the TVET reforms is paramount to provide the market with the skills that are needed either for employment or self-employment. We currently have a skills mismatch and a lack of available jobs – both of these factors contribute to the high youth unemployment rates that Botswana is currently facing. In order for young people to get jobs, they need to be empowered with skills that meet market requirements, including technical skills, soft skills and work ethics, and with entrepreneurial skills. Such training needs to be complemented by policies that support entrepreneurship (such as guidance and mentorship, access to credits and loans) in order to create self-sustained employment. It is important that through partnerships with active stakeholders Botswana is able to roll out its plans and existing programmes to implement the reforms. Development partners and Non-governmental organizations will support the Government in its efforts to deliver. However, favourable conditions also have to be put in place to enable these partnerships.
Today, we have the opportunity to acknowledge one excellent example of a partnership between the government and non-governmental organisations: the partnership between Young Africa Botswana and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. This is a partnership for service delivery on TVET and Entrepreneurship Skills, which we at the EU are confident will greatly benefit the sector. Young Africa has been recognized by the International Centre for Technical and Vocational Training of the UNESCO, UNEVOC, for its TVET model, with its unique approach of combining practical aspect to learning and soft skills (such as life skills, entrepreneurial skills and basic ICT). At the same time, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and
Culture Development oversees the implementation of three very important programmes under its mandate that relate to TVET and Entrepreneurship Skills: the Youth Development Fund, Botswana National Service Program, and the Internship Programme. A perfect match, you could say! We congratulate this partnership and look forward to seeing its success!
Good luck and success, happy birthday, and to a good cooperation between all of us!
Thank you very much!