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Hand in hand - Egypt, EU working to develop vocational education
Global Arab Network - Eurojar
vocational_education
The Egyptian government is working hand in hand with the European Union to develop a national reform policy on Technical and Vocational Education and Training System, in order to boost the development of productive sectors.
The Egyptian government is putting special emphasis on the Technical and Vocational Education and Training System to contribute towards the improvement of the competitiveness of Egyptian enterprises and labour force skills. A great progress has been made in this issue with the increase of the quality of training provision. In fact, the government had launched a reform policy of the training sector in an effort to respond to domestic and international markets needs, through a partnership project co-funded by the European Union.

Expectations are increasing
There is no doubt that work in this field requires lots of efforts, and expectations are increasing progressively. It is estimated that the number of students completing each year their intermediate studies in Egypt reaches 1.3 million students. 65% of these students are in technical and vocational education, while 35% are in general education, according to Fayza Abu-al-Naja, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. The project works on modernizing and reforming education to boost the country’s economy by improving competitiveness and increasing the levels of productivity. For this purpose, the Ministry of Education created a plan comprising 12 projects to modernize the sector and improve TVET. The Ministry of Higher Education adopted 6 projects to develop higher education, improve TVET and create comprehensive technological centres, comprising an industrial technical school, a technological institute, a comprehensive technology institute and a training centre, that operate according to a common curriculum. The Ministry of Trade and Industry also prepared a national plan for technical education and vocational training reforms in Egypt.

It is worth noting that TVET Reform Programme, agreed upon in April 2003, is worth 66 million Euros. The Government of Egypt contributes with 33 million Euros and the European Union with the remaining 33 million. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for the implementation of the project.

Improving the competitiveness
Abu-al-Naja noted that the programme is working on improving the competitiveness of Egyptian enterprises in local and international markets through support to human resources, in an effort to elaborate a national policy for technical education and vocational training. In order to improve the skills of workers, staff development planning is targeting employees in industries and enterprises in 12 selected economic sectors (for example, ready-made garments).

Abu-al-Naja noted that the TVET Reform Programme has achieved a network of sectoral and local partnerships, with 12 sectoral partnerships in the sectors of ready-made garments, industrial engineering, food processing industries, chemical industries, woodworking and furniture industries, construction materials, leather and tanning industries, printing, construction, civil engineering, hotels and restaurants, and travel agents, diving and bazaars. 14 local partnerships were signed in the Governorates of Alexandria, Aswan, Gharbiya, Helwan, Luxor, Menoufia, Port Said, Qalubeya, Sharkia, Sixth of October City, and South Sinai. 27 technical schools in 14 Egyptian Governorates have been upgraded out of a total of 100 schools. As part of the upgrading of schools, the TVET Reform Programme has introduced a system of alternating training for the first time, which relies on training in both schools and factories, in 40 schools in various specialisations.

The Minister of International Cooperation underlined that around 37,000 students, workers and job-seekers have been trained indirectly by the TVET Reform Programme, as well as 6,500 trainers. 34 educational curricula have been developed. Assisting the TVET Reform Programme, 100 training centres have established in companies, 16 high-standard training workshops opened, and 240 training kits prepared. 32 training workshops have been furnished with modern equipment and 845 training workshops have been audited.

Rachid Mohammed Rachid, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry, explained that the Egyptian government is committed to develop human capacities, as it is the main component that affects the competitiveness of enterprises and guarantees economic growth. He also noted that TVET Reform Programme, implemented in collaboration with the European Union, succeeded during the past 4 years in having a positive impact on the industrial, construction, and tourism sectors, as well as on exports.

National quality system
Rachid highlighted the importance of a national quality system which helps technical education and vocational training centres acquire quality standards and accreditation on the local and international levels. He also pointed that this project is one of Egypt’s most successful projects in the framework of its partnership with the EU, as it focuses on improving the capacity of Egyptian enterprises and improving their competitiveness. Enhancing the productivity of the technical labour force, modernizing production techniques and benefiting from human resources’ skills are all contributing to improve the institutional capacity of enterprises. New employment opportunities are being created and the technical labour force is being trained in line with international standards to contribute to the modernization and development plans. Rachid noted that the industrial modernization plan is working on modernizing more than 10,000 industrial facilities. One of the project’s success points is the partnership network established between the project and enterprises in different sectors, namely industry, tourism and construction.

From the European side, Marc Franco, Head of the Delegation of European Union to Egypt, underlines that the EU is supporting the Egyptian government to develop technical and vocational training and ensure a positive reform in the education sector. He also noted that the TVET Reform Programme is one of the most successful projects implemented by the Egyptian government in collaboration with the EU. Franco stressed that the European Neighbourhood Policy aims primarily at enhancing the support to development and economic reform programmes, as well as to training and education in an effort to generate new employment opportunities. School curricula were modernized and technical workers efficiently trained thanks to the TVET Reform Programme, notes Franco.

Director of TVET Reform Programme, Mohammed Helal explained that the TVET Reform Programme was built on the framework of Egyptian-European cooperation and the Mediterranean partnership and designed based on a study by the World Bank and the European Union in 2002 that was revised in 2006. This study outlined the principle faults and weak points present in the Egyptian TVET system, recommended the reform of these faults and the selection of the implementation of a programme to reform the TVET system. On the basis of this, a Specific Financing Agreement (SFA) for the TVET Reform Programme was signed in Brussels and the Presidential Decree No. 326 supporting this partnership was issued in 2003. It was then approved by the Egyptian Parliament and the implementation began in 2006 with a co-fund amount of 66 million Euros shared equally between the European Union and the Egyptian government.

It identified two major objectives of the programme: an overall objective of contributing towards the improvement of the competitiveness of Egyptian enterprises in domestic and international markets, and a specific objective of supporting the formulation and implementation of a national TVET reform policy in Egypt. The essential mission of the programme is to establish a network of local and sectoral partnerships that are led and guided by partners from industry and TVET providers. The programme has succeeded in the past four years in establishing a network of 12 sectoral partnerships in the sectors of ready-made garments, industrial engineering, food processing industries, chemical industries, woodworking and furniture industries, construction materials, leather and tanning industries, printing, construction, civil engineering, hotels and restaurants, and travel agents, diving and bazaars. 14 local partnerships have been established in the Governorates of Alexandria, Aswan, Gharbiya, Helwan, Luxor, Menoufia, Port Said, Qalubeya, Sharkia, Sixth of October City, and South Sinai

A Clear Work Plan
The programme has launched the implementation of a large deal of institutional support that will be implemented by a group of European companies, including:

- 30 twinning arrangements with European training institutions or training-related institutions, the implementation of which has begun.
- 8 national studies on particular subjects linked to the TVET reform policy and strategy and the labour market in Egypt, which has begun the implementation of the first study on the particular subject of the quality system, by international and national experts.
- 11 study visits have been implemented with 55 participants who are decision-makers, namely businessmen and those from training institutions, to 9 EU countries from a total of 30 study visits to be implemented.
- Implementation of specialised training programmes in fields of quality assurance, certification and management of Centres of Competence, training of trainers, and vocational guidance and counselling, with the assistance of international and national experts conducting 175 training programmes to train 4000 trainers of which 3228 trainers have been trained to date and have received certificates recognised by 4 certified bodies in Europe.

The TVET Reform Programme has continuously implemented activities and accomplish its objectives in the various sectors that to support the training mechanism and assist the institutions of the country, and to participate in the drafting of the complete strategy on the national level for TVET to meet the needs of the labour market for the next 25 years in cooperation and coordination with partners from different ministries, authorities, and both the public and private sectors.

By Marcelle Nasr - Cairo, Al-Hayat, Eurojar

Global Arab Network
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