LAS VEGAS – UNESCO began developing The Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR) Project with help from the government of Korea in 2010 in an effort to advance vocational training and education in five developing economies in Africa.
The scaling up of education around the globe has been on the agenda of many governments and organizations since the advent of the Millennium Development Goals almost a decade ago. As a result, organizations like the U.N. and its counterparts have made an effort to ensure that some sort of development in education is occurring throughout the far reaches of the world, and especially in those parts where development has made slow progress. However, we don’t often hear about the programs that are bringing the mission of the MDG’s into fruition.
One such program that deserves consideration as an important part of millennium development success, is The Better Education for Africa’s Rise Project or, BEAR. This project is geared toward Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), providing young students with education and training in areas that are important to economies in the Southern Africa Development Region (SDAR), consisting of five countries- Botswana, Malawi, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia.
TVET is important in developing countries because it places an emphasis on educating and training the workforce in sectors that are crucial to the economy. Having an educated and well- trained workforce boosts social mobility while also boosting the country’s economy.
A UNESCO report on The BEAR Project said, “Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is seen as one of the best ways of alleviating poverty and empowering individuals while at the same time giving enterprises the skills they need to drive economic growth.”
The overall goal of BEAR is to invest in TVET so that target countries are better equipped for development. To ensure that BEAR’s impact would be sustainable in SDAR countries, UNESCO enlisted the help of the government of Korea, who had implemented similar programs in earlier years to give the newly formed economy of Korea a boost.
UNESCO said, “This project is working to update curricula, better train teachers, boost infrastructure and engage employers and enterprises in helping TVET to focus on specific sectors carefully chosen for their potential for creating jobs.”
In the SDAR countries participating in The BEAR Project, a variety of sectors play an important role in fueling the economy. For example, in BEAR member state Namibia, the construction and tourism sectors drive the nation’s economy and comprise integral parts of the workforce. These industries are expected to grow substantially by 2030 and with Namibia’s National Training Authority (NTA), BEAR is training young students to meet this demand.
Namibia’s Minister of Education, Doctor David Namwandi said “We must remain confident in the potential of our people and in the potential of our Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions, including the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), to deliver programmes (sic) responsive to the new technological, economic and demographic challenges.”
With an initial budget of 10 million USD and a time frame of five years, the results of BEAR’s impact on select countries has been positive, reaching over 200 youth in each country. As 2015 marks five years for BEAR, it would be useful for participating governments and organizations to take this beneficial program to the next stages of expansion so that it may continue to enrich lives and encourage progression.
– Candice Hughes
Sources: Daily News, Namibia Training Authority United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Photo: The Independent