The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) accredited near Monrovia, says the Union is ready to partner with the government of Liberia to support Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Country.
Speaking at the 89th founder’s day celebration in Kakata over the weekend, Ambassador Cave said the current government has given everyone a strong indication that it gives priority to expanding access to relevant, high quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training as such; significant investment is needed to make it a reality.
She further narrated that EU is also ready and very excited with the BWI Community, the school principal, the administration and the private sector to take BWI to the “next level”.
According to her, about two months ago the European Union signed a financing agreement with the government of Liberia to support TVET and BWI is one of five schools been selected for support.
Madam Cave indicated that the other schools are in Montserrado, Sinoe, Maryland and Grand Gedeh Counties. She said negotiations with the Ministries of Education and Youth and Sports have been going on for a while now, expressing hope that the project kicks off very soon before the next school year, stating, ‘on EU side we are ready to make this happen’.
She said a visit to most TVET public schools in Liberia is enough to highlight the challenges, not only in terms of facilities but lack of modern equipment and vocational curricula. She stated that since the end of the Bong Mines and LAMCO operations in Liberia there is essentially no system to train vocational Instructors and provide continuous professional development opportunities but said the EU support seeks to address some of these burning education gaps both in terms of teaching force and student learning.
Ambassador Cave disclosed that the total donation by the European Union is in the amount of 20 million Euros for the five Institutions targeted including BWI, noting that the support extends well beyond this monetary value as the project will support Liberia and BWI to craft international collaborations with other TVET schools across the African continent and with private sector entities in and out of Liberia which can help to further build the Institution’s capacity and to ensure the education and skills on offer really match local demand.
She asserted that the project will be implemented by the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) which is not a stranger for the BWI community having supported the school in a very successful project for heavy equipment operators’ training which is soon coming to an end.
She indicated that the EU together with UNIDO will through this new programme support the Government to modernize TVET, promote training in strategic sectors of the economy, foster an entrepreneurial culture and equip youth with skills that actually match labor market demand and respond to new economic growth opportunities.
The European Union Ambassador mentioned that all schools including BWI under the programme will be supported to establish or further develop production units in order to generate internal revenue in order to not rely heavily on Government funding.
Mrs. Cave added that the TVET programme will support capacity development at central and school level.
“It will send a number of vocational Instructors abroad for training and practice for up to a year, the program will also establish within BWI a center for vocational Instructor training which may support training for both public and private schools across Liberia” she revealed.
She said it is crucial to the development of the TVET system that the Instructors who will benefit from all training opportunities will make a personal commitment to remain in the school system for a certain period after their return.
The Ambassador named skills that will be supported at BWI as heavy vehicle equipment repair, machining and mechatronics, refrigeration and AC repair, health safety and environment.
“We are confident that the Government and BWI will embrace and adopt the project from the very beginning so that after the 6 years of support and financing the school by then, upgraded and modernized will remain fully operating and delivering high-quality TVET to students,” she said.
She furthered that the European Union remains committed the agreement to support and improve the labor force by empowering the young people of Liberia through the provision of quality TVET and look forward to working closely with BWI.
The Ambassador maintained that half of the population in Liberia consists of young people; youth with interests, hopes, dreams, plans, and desires to achieve. She intoned that having such a young population is in itself a great strength for the development of Liberia, but young people are also exposed to high levels of unemployment, underemployment and vulnerable employment rates.
She then said most of the youths are in fact working in unskilled jobs and are in “survival mode”.