By Ndey Sowe

The Ministry for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), on Friday March 8th 2019, signed a 3.5 million US dollar project for Youth Empowerment through technical and vocational education and training (TVET), in the Gambia.

The overall goal of the project is to create the enabling environment that will give young people, especially girls, a better chance of finding decent employment by providing them with lifelong learning opportunities as recommended by SDGs 4 and 8, through TVET.

According to the Project Coordinator Olivier Pieume, who doubles as the TVET Regional adviser for Africa, the target beneficiaries will be close to a thousand young people. Oliver said they will benefit directly from the project through an updated curricula and quality training. Pieume said the project will focus more particularly on building literacy and market relevant skills training, among 30% out of School youth especially adolescent girls.

Abdoulie TB Jarra, Permanent Secretary at MoHERST, said the project will be implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with MoHERST and other stakeholder institutions such as the Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Gambia Technical Training Institute and the National Youth Service Scheme, among others.

“The need to train our youth in TVET is not only important to acquire gainful employment, but will empower them to participate directly in the socio-economic transformation of the Gambia, by making them creators of employment themselves, in the private sector,” he said. He added that the project requires the direct participation of youth with the requisite technical skills in all sectors of the Gambian economy to operate new technologies and produce the necessary output in agriculture, industry and other services. He said the main focus of the project is geared towards these goals and hopes that the project will transcend from a mere signing ceremony, to achieve the objectives set out in the project document itself.

“We count on you, and we count on Gambian institutions such as the Gambia College, YEP, the Synapse Center and national technical and vocational education and training service providers, to accomplish this four-year mission,” the UNESCO Director at the Dakar Regional Office said. He added the mission is a significant milestone towards the achievement of the SDGs; adding the consultation of Member States on the formulation of the agenda, brought to the fore, technical and vocational skills development which will not only provide decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for women, men, girls and boys, but will address higher demands for economic, social and environmental nature.

“TVET can provide young people with the skills necessary to enter the job market, including self- employment skills. It can help Companies and communities adapt to changing skill requirements, and increase their productivity, thereby reducing barriers to enter the job market. It will provide professional development opportunities for low-skilled underemployed or unemployed persons, out of School youth and individuals who are neither employed, nor students, or in training,” he noted.

The Project which is funded by the South Korean International Development Cooperation Agency, was signed by both MoHERST and the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The signing ceremony was held at the MoHERST Building in Bijilo.

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