Project Journey and Key Achievements 2012 - 2020

PROMOST (Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training) in the Great Lakes Region is currently in its eighth year of operations in Rwanda and is about to round up the third phase of the 12-year SDC programme that aims at supporting the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to improve access to as well as quality and relevance of its TVET system. This regional programme extended its activities to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo during phase 2. PROMOST is financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). 

The programme’s overall goal is to contribute to increased employment and income generation for the rural population in target geographical areas in the Great Lakes Region by improving their access to quality and labour-market-oriented vocational training. 

The PROMOST programme mainly aims at supporting the three Governments to improve access, quality and relevance of their respective TVET systems in order to resolve a key development challenge consisting of low-quality skills produced by the TVET sub-sector.

More specifically, it envisions support to the local TVET and employment stakeholders as an effective and sustainable way to enhance employability of the mainly disadvantaged categories of the population by improving their skills and competences in line with labor market requirements and increase their income-generating capacity by supporting them in the employment or self-employment process.

"The PROMOST project is piloting a dual training program in the Western Province in Rwanda. We are working together with the six new vocational training centers that we have established in recent years. The aim is to offer modernized training and improve the quality of vocational training. "
Charles Pouliot, PROMOST Director Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo
Project Summary

The 12-year programme aims to support the Governments of the three countries’ efforts (Rwanda, DRC and Burundi) to improve access, quality and relevance of the TVET system.

The programme’s overall goal is to contribute to increased employment and income generation for the rural population in target geographical areas in the Great Lakes Region by improving their access to quality and labour-market-oriented vocational training. The PROMOST programme mainly aims at supporting the three Governments to improve access, quality and relevance of their respective TVET systems in order to resolve a key development challenge consisting of low-quality skills produced by the TVET sub-sector. More specifically, it envisions support to the local TVET and employment stakeholders as an effective and sustainable way to enhance employability of the mainly disadvantaged categories of the population by improving their skills and competences in line with labor market requirements and increase their income-generating capacity by supporting them in the employment or self-employment process.

In order to achieve the overall goal, the programme works with different sections of the TVET systems and applies a holistic and integrated approach to its development. The main focus is on the qualitative improvement of TVET and enhanced accessibility for the rural population to more diversified training at decentralized levels. Special attention is also given to the capacity building of the three categories of key stakeholders involved in the deployment of an effective TVET system – central and local authorities, local TVET providers and local enterprises (private sector) - to ensure impact and sustainable development of a demand-driven TVET sector monitored and managed in partnership with all stakeholders. 

The programme deploys its interventions mainly at decentralized levels, with a geographic focus on the Western Province in Rwanda, South Kivu in DRC and Ngozi Province in Burundi, areas weakly covered by other Development Partners. This ensures leverage at local levels by embedding project activities into the local socio-economic context and within existing operative structures, systems and mechanisms to achieve higher impact, sustainability and outreach.

The programme is fully aligned with the national education sector priorities as well as the national TVET and employment policies, strategies and action plans, and complementary to the development partners’ intervention domains and geographical areas. The activities will concretely contribute to the three Government’s objectives consisting among others of increasing access to quality and relevant TVET by building and equipping new TVET centres as well as rehabilitating existing ones and by implementing short-term pre-and-in-service training sessions as well as the apprenticeship system. Quality (mainly through curriculum development and training of trainers) and capacity building is a critical component of the programme. Many of the planned activities focus on strengthening the capacity of the key stakeholders by supporting their institutional and organizational development through training combined with implementation (coaching and counselling), in order to ensure the transfer of knowledge and to promote “learning by doing”, thus contributing to make the TVET systems more operational and sustainable.

The first years of the PROMOST programme were marked by the construction of five public TVET schools and the introduction of short training courses in Rwanda. In the second phase, the programme activities were extended to DR Congo (2016) and Burundi (2017). New training modalities were implemented in the form of a new apprenticeship offer, in addition to the exiting short-term training sessions. The programme also managed to effectively implement the Recognition of Prior Learning and Experience (RPL/E) mechanism in the three countries and to validate professional qualifications. 

The Great Lakes Context and its Challenges

To date, Rwanda, DR Congo as well as Burundian TVET systems suffer from several challenges, which can be summarized as follows:

Rwanda is a landlocked country with few natural resources. Through its vision 2020, the country has decided to transform itself into a middle-income, knowledge-based economy in the next few years, with an emphasis on economic growth and less dependency on development aid. Steady progress has been registered in poverty reduction, with poverty levels shifting from 60% of the population to 45% between 2006 and 2012, according to government sources. Quoting the World Bank, “Rwanda’s strong macroeconomic performance was accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards, as witnessed by the two-thirds drop in child mortality and the attainment of near-universal primary school enrolment.’’

However, the country recognizes its low human resource capacity and has acknowledged skills development in general and TVET in particular as one of the top national priorities. To this end, a TVET regulatory body, the WDA (Workforce Development Authority), was created in 2009 and in 2013 a Minister of State for TVET was appointed within the Ministry of Education as an expression of the government’s strong support of the sector. However, the country in general, and its private sector in particular, still face the challenge of an acute shortage of technically-skilled workers, while the Rwandan TVET system is still underperforming and supported by a very young institutional framework.

Burundi still suffers from its 2015 severe political crisis, coupled with economic stagnation. According to the 2016 Burundi Fragility Assessment, Government access to financial resources, both internal and external, has eroded because of the political crisis. The tax‐to‐GDP ratio declined to 10.4% in 2015 (compared to 12% in 2014). The European Union (EU) and its member states, who have suspended direct aid to the government since 2016, are currently still maintaining their support to Burundi’s population by providing aid for basic services through the remaining Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  They also try to ensure that their aid does not aggravate conflict dynamics, especially at the local level. SDC decided in June 2015 to postpone the launch of the PROMOST programme due to the socio-political crisis and the worsening security situation. However, in September 2017, SDC launched programme activities at the local level in Kayanza Province.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the biggest countries in Africa, located at the heart of the continent. The geographical position in the eastern part explains the country’s membership to the CEPGL (Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries). Besides the important natural resources the country possesses, its GDP and the size of its population are significant compared to those of Rwanda and Burundi and make it an important country in the region. However, political and economic instability does not allow this country to play such a role. Also, the pre-election period for the presidential elections led to social tension across the country during 2018, and post-election tension was expected.

Many weaknesses characterize the TVET sector in the DRC from access to training, provision of quality and relevance. Most of the training is predominantly academic and does not correspond to the skills requested by the labour market. The complex institutional organization of the TVET system suffers from poor central and provincial level governance. In December 2019 the new president of the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, launched a National Forum for Vocational Training for the first time in their history. In the hope that the government's commitment to the development of the vocational training system will trigger a new positive dynamic and that NGOs and international donors will increasingly become involved in the field of TVET system development, the interventions of the PROMOST project, which started in 2016, came at the right moment and could receive a good tailwind. 
 

Selected Economic Sectors and Beneficaries

The 12-year programme aims to support the Governments of the three countries’ efforts (Rwanda, DRC and Burundi) to improve access, quality and relevance of the TVET system.

The programme’s overall goal is to contribute to increased employment and income generation for the rural population in target geographical areas in the Great Lakes Region by improving their access to quality and labour-market-oriented vocational training. The PROMOST programme mainly aims at supporting the three Governments to improve access, quality and relevance of their respective TVET systems in order to resolve a key development challenge consisting of low-quality skills produced by the TVET sub-sector. More specifically, it envisions support to the local TVET and employment stakeholders as an effective and sustainable way to enhance employability of the mainly disadvantaged categories of the population by improving their skills and competences in line with labor market requirements and increase their income-generating capacity by supporting them in the employment or self-employment process.

In order to achieve the overall goal, the programme works with different sections of the TVET systems and applies a holistic and integrated approach to its development. The main focus is on the qualitative improvement of TVET and enhanced accessibility for the rural population to more diversified training at decentralized levels. Special attention is also given to the capacity building of the three categories of key stakeholders involved in the deployment of an effective TVET system – central and local authorities, local TVET providers and local enterprises (private sector) - to ensure impact and sustainable development of a demand-driven TVET sector monitored and managed in partnership with all stakeholders. 

The programme deploys its interventions mainly at decentralized levels, with a geographic focus on the Western Province in Rwanda, South Kivu in DRC and Ngozi Province in Burundi, areas weakly covered by other Development Partners. This ensures leverage at local levels by embedding project activities into the local socio-economic context and within existing operative structures, systems and mechanisms to achieve higher impact, sustainability and outreach.

The programme is fully aligned with the national education sector priorities as well as the national TVET and employment policies, strategies and action plans, and complementary to the development partners’ intervention domains and geographical areas. The activities will concretely contribute to the three Government’s objectives consisting among others of increasing access to quality and relevant TVET by building and equipping new TVET centres as well as rehabilitating existing ones and by implementing short-term pre-and-in-service training sessions as well as the apprenticeship system. Quality (mainly through curriculum development and training of trainers) and capacity building is a critical component of the programme. Many of the planned activities focus on strengthening the capacity of the key stakeholders by supporting their institutional and organizational development through training combined with implementation (coaching and counselling), in order to ensure the transfer of knowledge and to promote “learning by doing”, thus contributing to make the TVET systems more operational and sustainable.

The first years of the PROMOST programme were marked by the construction of five public TVET schools and the introduction of short training courses in Rwanda. In the second phase, the programme activities were extended to DR Congo (2016) and Burundi (2017). New training modalities were implemented in the form of a new apprenticeship offer, in addition to the exiting short-term training sessions. The programme also managed to effectively implement the Recognition of Prior Learning and Experience (RPL/E) mechanism in the three countries and to validate professional qualifications.  

Approach and Strategy

Holistic Approach

PROMOST uses a holistic approach in working with both the formal and informal sectors of TVET in a bid to bring about systemic impact through five outcomes, namely:

  • Increased access for the rural population, especially the disadvantaged target groups and women, to more diversified TVET services;
  • Strengthened quality and relevance of vocational training through the development of competency-based curricula, in collaboration with the private sector;
  • Support of the development and operationalisation of an RPL/E system;
  • Improved governance of local TVET and professional integration through capacity building of stakeholders;
  • Improved access for the rural population to quality and adapted entrepreneurship services.

The programme's implementation approach is based on the following principles: 

A rigorous and pragmatic approach. Rigorous and well-ordered, ensuring the coherence and possible synergies of action - internally (to achieve economies of scale) and externally with its partners. The programme team were proactive and promoted consultation, empowerment and support for change, the effective use of time adaptation and the development of existing skills. This was based on a results-based approach (such as outcome mapping) using the Monitoring and Results Measurement (MRM) initiatives implemented.

A systemic, holistic and sustainable approach. This included finding solutions, ensuring ownership and sustainability. The implementation team essentially adopted a facilitative role by supporting the different stakeholders at national as well as local levels. This approach contributed to:
 

  • Create synergies among the TVET and labor market insertion stakeholders. It ensured the private sector contributed to both, to the "production" (training) and "consumption" (employment) of qualified human resources. Particular attention was given to the accountability of the private sector to promote the relevance, quality, external effectiveness and sustainability (through cost-sharing) of the training offers thus facilitating the professional integration of the graduates;
  • Support actors to clarify and fully assume their roles in the implementation of the programme, in the context of ongoing decentralisation and deconcentration process;
  • Strengthen the vocational training and labour market integration chain (training of trainers, training advisors and inspectors, business development advisors);
  • Strengthen access, quality and relevance of the training provision and improve the competitiveness of economic players in the targeted geographical areas.

A global participatory approach with local and national ownership. The programme was successful because it was considered relevant and adapted to the different TVET stakeholders, both at central and local levels. It is crucial to continue to work closely with all stakeholders in the future. The ownership of the programme by all stakeholders is a crucial factor for its successful implementation. It is also an asset for ensuring the sustainability of the achievements. 

A "bottom-up" approach. The implementing team took care to integrate more particularly the stakeholders at the grassroots levels in the identification, planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme activities.

Alignment with policies and strategies (national and local) and the search for coherence with other interventions. In the quest for effective and efficient public action and consistency of approaches to vocational training and labor market insertion as well as local economic development, it was critical that the programme was in line with the national policies as well as national and local strategies and action plans, and that it was implemented in synergy and complementarity with ongoing projects and programmes of other development partners and donors.

The intervention strategy was based on complementary intervention areas that strove to:

  • Contribute to developing and structuring the vocational training and labour market insertion system in each country;
  • Improve the access of target groups to the provision of quality vocational training and stimulate adequate social and economic demand to maximize opportunities, professional insertion of graduates and promote the increase of economic players’ income;
  • Promote the creation and development of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in line with the economic activities and professions identified.

The programme adopted a twin-track strategy which influences and reinforces each other to promote improved productivity of business players as well as the creation of new jobs in skills development among the target groups.

Training

The Organisation of Short-Term and Apprenticeship Training for the Rural Population

Short-Term Training 

Short-Term Training (STT) sessions (up to 3 months) play a major role in positively impacting the lives of the poor and deprived through rapid delivery and acquisition of employable skills.

Apprenticeship

Out-of-school youth are supported (encouraged) to access vocational training through an apprenticeship system that closely looks like the traditional apprenticeships. The crafts(wo)men who are willing to host young apprentices in their workshop receive capacity building in terms of improving their technical and pedagogical skills as well as consumables and equipment in order to provide quality on-the-job training in a selection of trades that are promising in terms of employment or self-employment.

Curricula Development

One focus of PROMOST in order to contribute to the quality and relevance of TVET systems was to support the development of standardized vocational training programmes in line with labour market needs. 
The curricula were developed only after achieving a rapid market survey to understand (identify) the trades that were competitive, relevant and promising for labour market insertion of young graduates. The curricula for selected trades were developed in close partnership with key stakeholders from the private sector, authorities and crafts(wo)men. The curricula included not only trade specific technical skills and competences but also “transferable” soft skills as well as entrepreneurship skills, women economic empowerment and gender. In the three countries, up to 100 curricula were developed.

Entrepreneurship

The introduction of entrepreneurship during the second phase of PROMOST aimed to increase opportunities by enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit among the youth for self-employment.

The programme continued to support graduates from its training facilities with business development services to empower them for self-employment through selected Business Development Advisors (BDAs). The BDAs empowered beneficiaries with skills in entrepreneurship, business plan development, access to finance and technical business assistance.

RPL/E (Recognition of Prior Learning and Experience) Certification

This important activity gives the trainees a competitive advantage, credibility and national recognition for their skills. Beneficiaries can even present their certificates for the advancement of loans from financial institutions for their start-up businesses. 

Graduates from STT and apprenticeship training were delivered a certification of their qualification, respectively the developed competencies, thus facilitating their access to finance to start their businesses. In 2016, PROMOST introduced the RPL/E mechanism in Rwanda, where professionals without certification could undergo an assessment to validate their competences and improve their employability. This mechanism was also implemented in DRC and Burundi in 2018.

Gender

The three countries are still faced with the gender challenge, and all main project activities are conducted with an emphasis on encouraging the gender aspect through a series of training workshops for the artisans in non-formal TVET. The objective has been threefold: to scan for some of the issues hampering the recruitment and employment of women and girls, to raise awareness around gender issues and inclusiveness, and to mobilize the participants to come up with some concrete actions to address the situation.

Major Outputs

PROMOST facilitates the provision of several market-driven skills which are selected based on the demand of the local economy

Six public TVET Schools were constructed under PROMOST in the Western province of Rwanda. These schools fully belong to the government and are being managed by their respective districts.

Locations: Muhororo TVET School – Ngororero, Rubengera TVET School – Karongi , Muganza TVET School, Rusizi, Shangi TVET School – Nyamasheke, Bumba TVET School – Rutsiro , Nyabihu TVET School – Nyabihu

PROMOST supported quality control visits with a stated goal of collecting accurate data on all VTCs operating in the province; evaluating the effectiveness of the used curricula; monitoring the use and implementation of quality standards and procedures, and assessing the impact of the Training of Trainers sessions.
 

The Accessibility to TVET Schools
A significant programme outcome in both phase 1 and 2 concerned increasing access for the rural population, particularly the disadvantaged target groups and women, to a more diversified and equitable TVET system. This was achieved through several combined efforts, but primarily through the construction of six TVET schools and the installation of up-to-date equipment in six districts of the Western Province in Rwanda. The location of the TVET schools and the choice of the trades implemented in each school have been done following a survey ensuring that the local community needs were in line with the labour market needs. All the TVET schools are within reach as they are located near major national roads. 

Up to ten specific trades were offered in each TVET school with each workshop, including a classroom for theoretical sessions, an office for the technical trainer in charge and a store for materials/ consumables. For quality maintenance and to achieve optimal results, each workshop admitted not more than 20 trainees per trade. 

The construction of the TVET schools would not have been possible without the support of key actors: The district authorities provided suitable plots of land for the construction and put in place a means to connect the schools to the national electricity and water grid. WDA and the Rwanda Polytechnic supplied all consumables and office stationery, paid staff salaries and, in close collaboration with the districts, catered to maintenance costs.
 

Development of Technical Training Guides

Development of Technical Training Guides for 61 modules extracted from the Level 1 and 2 curricula in selected occupations.

About 100 CBT (competency-based training) curricula were developed with the participation of the private sector and were implemented in close collaboration with the training authorities.

99 curricula were developed/adapted for short-term training and the modernised apprenticeship.
 

Training for trainers and teachers in TVET schools, craftsmen engaged in the apprenticeships, and the administrative and management staff of TVET schools

These sessions were held to raise training capacity and quality, to upgrade pedagogy and technical skills, improve the management and coordination of TVET institutions.


A regional RPL System was developed and piloted in each of the three countries

This was a significant achievement for the programme and is expected to pave the way for more RPL certifications in further trades and finally its institutionalisation within the countries.
 

Establishment of formal linkages between TVET and the private sector

The establishment of sustainable, permanent links between the private sector and TVET providers is one of the programme’s priorities. This is a crucial aspect for ensuring that training provision is market-oriented. The programme enhanced the capacity of the private sector to effectively network amongst themselves and interact with the TVET schools to improve their service provision, productivity and competitiveness.

Stakeholder Platforms

17 stakeholder platforms were created at local levels (communes in Burundi, districts in Rwanda, a province in DRC) in each of the three countries. These platforms form an important basis to ensure the sustainability of future project activities.

Sustainability

The following elements contribute to the sustainability of the programme:

The involvement of the institutions of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC 
Skills development is a top priority of the Government of Rwanda, and there is strong political will and backing in dealing with employment and unemployment issues.

The TVET strategy
The multi-stakeholder approach and the apprenticeship model have created bridges between actors, at all levels: between young people and the state, trained people and companies, training operators and professional organisations, beneficiaries themselves, etc. These strong links are a guarantee of sustainability.

The will to duplicate
Started in the Western Province, the approach has been extended to other countries with the desire to share tools and methodologies. Adjustments are applicable, indicating that the system is capable of self-adapting to the contexts, e.g. security situations and territorial needs.

The project dealt with all aspects of skills development by engaging with the formal (public) and non-formal TVET sectors. 

Platforms
The establishment of the multi-stakeholder platforms guarantees ownership and sustainability.

 

Strengths of the Programme

  • The partnership strategy proved to be relevant since the programme was able to enhance the development of an extensive training system in its geographical intervention areas. This included a high level of capacity building, the participation of different TVET and Labour Market Insertion stakeholders, strong diversification of training modalities and training offers which were adapted to local market needs through market analysis; showcasing local economic players and especially craftswomen/men engaging them proactively in training delivery and labour market insertion for the youth. This shortened the path between training and employment and finally created a positive impact on gender balance.
  • PROMOST offered holistic support to vocational training. This support was not only pedagogical and didactic, but it also took into account the organisational and management aspects of vocational training, as well as the training facilities and the knowledge transfer, the exchange of experience and the impact analysis.
  • PROMOST has been marked by constant support for the decentralisation process of vocational training and labour market insertion.
  • PROMOST capitalized on the results and effects of the programme through enhanced monitoring and evaluation measures and capitalization of achievements.


Due to the establishment of new training modalities, PROMOST has contributed to the massification of vocational training. In essence, about 11 000  people in the region have benefited directly or indirectly, 85 % of whom have increased their incomes. Young people became aware of the importance of being self-reliant and qualified; women were able to strengthen their autonomy by diversifying their activities while small entrepreneurs enhanced their production and incomes. 

In addition, PROMOST has succeeded in mobilising its partners, creating new spaces for consultation and initiating new approaches for local economic development. PROMOST has therefore responded to the crucial challenge of qualifying young people and professionalising adults, to strengthen the selected trades in the regions and improve the living conditions of the population of the Great Lakes Region.

Challenges

However, Challenges remain

  • Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) is still a challenge in vocational training. Encouraging women to embrace male-dominated trades does not always yield the needed results; thus, it may be necessary to diversify gender-neutral trades to increase TVET access for GESI.
  • Local ownership of project activities implies ownership from the beginning. PROMOST will further encourage all relevant stakeholders to participate in the project process, increasing their sense of responsibility and helping them promote transparency and integrity. The communities and partners are the driving force of change, the main actors in the implementation and management of vocational training and drivers for local development.
  • Weaknesses in the institutional framework of vocational training is still a challenge that calls for huge resource mobilization to oversee the overall readjustment of the whole education system. However, Rwanda, unlike its neighbours, has a strong political will in promoting skills development and TVET is one of the country’s top priorities.
  • Limited impact of project activities due to trainers’ status. TVET trainers have a central role in any transformation process that brings about a lasting change in the quality and relevance of the TVET system. However, most of those trained through the project, such as through the Training of Trainer (ToT) sessions cannot be relied upon to impact the system for long due to their instability and high turnover.
  • Poor management and maintenance of technical workshops. The management and maintenance of workshops remain a challenge due to the limited capacity and commitment of VTC managers and trainers. For this reason, the project initiated an intensive training session for the five new VTCs to address this issue. The lack of understanding of partner roles and responsibilities in the implementation of PROMOST was noted from the new VTCs. The project activities must continue to focus on the provision of services to training providers as inputs to the training process and assurance of quality indicators.

The Impact of PROMOST on its Partners

PROMOST’s strategy was to deliver know-how, build and strengthen networks and combine the transfer of expertise with the equipment and infrastructure needed. This resulted in the development and implementation of a strong partnership between the central government and local authorities, public and private TVET delivery, and the private sector at decentralised levels. This cooperation is a prerequisite for private sector participation in a financially sustainable TVET system.

Decentralised TVET partnerships are an essential source of dynamism, creativity and initiative that is highly responsive to local socio-economic demand. By mobilising all stakeholders, including enterprises, local leaders and training providers, PROMOST utilised the communities’ private and public training resources to the full and made the whole TVET system more demand-driven. 

TVET offer: public and private TVET schools, craftsmen companies, NGOs and cooperatives engaged in TVET delivery.
TVET demand: private sector (companies, MSEs, craftsmen, farmers, cooperatives, etc.) as well as individuals and groups of individuals.

Stories

Strong Women get Things Done
“I now Comfortably Provide for my Family”
Project Journey, Key Achievements from 2012 - 2020