By Taddeo Bwambale
KAMPALA - Uganda and other African economies can achieve faster growth and reduce unemployment by increasing investment in vocational education, a visiting Liberian minister has advised.
Saah Charles N'Tow, Liberia’s deputy minister of youth development said his country had experience gains by focusing on technical skills to address high youth unemployment.
The minister warned that the growing population and high unemployment were a security threat to the continent’s growth plan if emphasis is not placed on skills development.
He made the remarks at the closure of a four-day conference of the International Vocational Education and Training (IVETA) at Hotel Africana.
The conference attracted experts from across Africa to discuss the role of technical and vocational education and training in building regional economies.
N'Tow advised African countries to target the informal sector where a large population of youth in Africa is already engaged in some form of economic activity.
“Africa is going through many challenges including unemployment. In Liberia, we are moving technical education to the informal sector to make it attractive, and this has worked,” he told New Vision.
John Chrysostom Muyingo, the state minister for higher education said the high unemployment on the continent was due to a skills gap that had rendered many youth unproductive.
Muyingo called for cross border cooperation among African states to improve the quality of vocational training and address unemployment.
“Uganda has trained very many teachers. Congo-Brazzaville and Liberia need many teachers. If we collaborate to address the challenge, we will all benefit,” he said.
Muyingo advised education institutions in the region to align their education programmes to technical skills that are in line with job market and national development goals.
“Whatever education our children are given, emphasis should be on practical skills so that they are able to create jobs or fit in the available job market,” Muyingo said.
He warned parents against belittling technical courses saying such attitude was responsible for the low enrollment of students at training institutions.
“In Uganda, people still despise vocational institutions. We still have parents who think the institutions are for people of low standing, yet that where money and jobs are,” he noted.
John Twesigye, the executive secretary of the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) said through vocational education, many youth have become entrepreneurs.
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