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‘Large number of unemployed youth is a national security issue’

-Higher Education Minister

April 10, 2019

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Minister Professor Aiah Gbakima, addressing the press

Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima, has observed that the large number of unemployed youth in Sierra Leone is a serious concern and a national security issue, hence the development of a National Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy.

The minister was speaking yesterday, Tuesday, April 9th, during a presser at his New England Ville Office, while updating journalists on the development of a TVET policy that would be used to enhance youth employment.

He said  President  Bio wanted the youth all-over the street of Freetown and major cities in the country to be provided with skills training, so that they could be employed or be able to create jobs for themselves and reduce the burden of youth unemployment in the country.

He said the TVET training would be 90% practical and 10% theory, adding that at the end of it all, participants would be awarded with certificates and diplomas that would enable them to take care of themselves.

He further observed that there are a lot of university graduates who are highly unemployed because they lack the necessary skills, hence TVET is important.

The minister said mining companies were importing skill workers to work in their mines due to the lack of basic skills among youth, stating that young Sierra Leoneans were losing jobs while the country was also losing revenue.

He cited agricultural TVET as one of the areas they would focus on, with the aim of enhancing food security and sufficiency in the country.

He added that the technical team was working on it hard to see that the policy involved everybody.

According to the minister, the first national TVET policy was drafted in 2010 by the minister of Education Science and Technology, with support from UNESCO and other stakeholders, but that it did not go through regulatory parliamentary procedure leading to approval and enactment.

He said the policy remained a draft until in 2014 when another review process was triggered through a loan agreement with the government and the Islamic Development Bank, to support the growth and development of TVET in Sierra Leone.

He said the 2014 revised draft also faced similar challenge and remained a draft to date.

Professor Gbakima stated that the provision of a credible and comprehensive TVET policy to guide the operations of institutions, agencies, private sector and other TVET service providers became priority to the ministry of Technical and Higher Education since inception.

He said the current government created a separate ministry that solely focuses on technical and higher education, and that the ministry’s responsibilities include, development of robust policies on TVET, development of frameworks for public-private partnership with a new view to increase private sector participation in TVET, expand access and improve quality of TVET particularly in areas with high potential for job creation.

He further that they also review and standardise the curriculum and certification for TVET, develop a national apprenticeship scheme, which can provide internship for trainees of TVET and at the same time provide direct training for youth.

He disclosed that his ministry, in collaboration with and in consultation with relevant stakeholders and partners including GIZ, was currently developing a national TVET policy, noting that the process was being led by a national with both national and international experience in policy development and implementation.

He said regional consultations will be conducted simultaneously to further solicit stakeholder’s in-put and a final validation workshop will be held by the 4th week of this April month.

He said the policy aim to set up a common vision for the TVET system in Sierra Leone, facilitate alignment with the national development framework and coherence with other policies, to enhance coordination of planned actions and reforms for improving outcomes and impact of TVET and others.