The UNESCO Chair on Lifelong Learning, Youth & Work and partners organised the conference ‘Towards meaningful education and decent work for the youth in Eastern and Southern Africa’ focusing on partnerships, democratisation and sustainability of approaches and interventions.
The conference washybrid. Next to live sessions in Gulu, Uganda, we organised livestreams and online panel sessions and round tables.
Key themes and issues
First, looking back at the last decades of national and international TVET policy formulation and implementation, these processes are dominated by a top-down approach where educators, youth, local businesses and universities are hardly involved. There is a growing need to democratise these approaches to give the local knowledge and experiences a more prominent place.
Second, the road to meaningful education and decent work cannot be successful by means of only project based programming approaches such as NGO initiatives and active labour market projects by state institutions. We need a systemic innovation of TVET institutions and new innovative links and deep collaboration
between the world of work and the world of education.
Third, these new partnerships should be embedded in a regional eco-system perspective where value-chain development with environmental respect, is key. To combat poverty effectively new green agricultural and other business chains should be developed using the capabilities of local actors, including faculties of universities such as agriculture, education and business & administration.
The overall goal of the conference is to learn from each other and to enhance collective knowledge production, innovations and practical actions to promote meaningful education and decent work for youth. That is why we invite colleagues at universities, staff of BTVET (Business, Technical Vocational Education and Training) institutes, development agencies, youth groups, government departments, farmers and business people from the region and beyond.
The conference, with a maximum of 100 participants at the venue but with a lot more online, will have room for many interactive sessions and creative dialogues. The programme will integrate case studies of best practices, research findings, policy briefs, round tables, show cases of ongoing creative initiatives (for instance using ‘virtual reality’) and testimonies by the youth.
Because of possible restrictions due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we are thinking of a mixture of physical presence (strictly honouring social distance), online interactions, webinars and live-stream contributions.
Main organiser and partners
The conference is organised by Gulu University, UNESCO Chair Lifelong Learning, Youth & Work; Globalisation Studies Groningen (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) in partnership with Youth Education and Work Network (YEW), UNATCOM Kampala, UNESCO Chair International Education and Development Nottingham (UK), UNESCO Chair CBRSRHE Victoria (Canada), International research project VET 4.0 and International Journal JVET, VSO and VVOB (more supporting partners will join).
The UNESCO Chair network “Lifelong Learning, Youth & Work”, based at Gulu University, brings together five universities, two BTVET institutions and four NGOs in Uganda. The main objective of this network is to establish sustainable partnerships between higher education, themBTVET sector, government departments, NGOs, businesses, youth groups and communities.
A more specific objective is, through participatory action research (PAR), to contribute to new policy initiatives and innovative programmes for the benefit of the youth. Additionally we are working on the strengthening of academic lifelong learning and adult education networks in Eastern and Southern Africa. This last endeavour led to the idea to share in the envisaged conference the Ugandan experiences of the last years with our colleagues and other stakeholders in surrounding Eastern and Southern African countries.
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