The development of qualifications and fostering employment are key to achieving Rwanda’s “Vision 2050”, which targets improving the quality of life for all its citizens. To cover the demand for highly qualified skilled labour, the focus is on technical and vocational education and training (TVET), which imparts practical skills and abilities to people that they will need in the evolving labour market. Effective vocational education and training systems – especially those incorporating workplace learning – facilitate the transition to professional life for young people, reduce employment, and foster economic growth. Vocational education and training is an effective tool for enabling individuals to take advantage of social and professional opportunities. Moreover, it enhances the productivity of companies and their employees.
TVET must be customised to reflect the various needs of different economic sectors and people with different socio-economic and educational backgrounds. This includes people holding a basic education as well as those with only an informal education. Vocational education and training should enable equitable access to men and women as well as to disadvantaged populations. It contributes decisively to a decent living, as well as to socially sustainable and equitable economic growth.
Well-trained workers are essential to industrial and economic growth. Collaboration between vocational education institutions and the private sector is important for the development of technical and entrepreneurial skills.
Since 2022, the PROMOST programme (Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training and Employment Creation) has been promoting market-oriented skills development initiatives in the Great Lakes Region, relying on Swisscontact’s longstanding experience in vocational education and training. The programme started up originally in Rwanda and was expanded to Burundi and Eastern DRC in 2016. The project outreach areas include districts in Rwanda’s Western Province, secure areas near Bukavu in the DRC, and Kayanza Province in Burundi.
PROMOST applied a comprehensive and inclusive approach with the overarching goal of improving employment and incomes for the rural population. It places a special focus on the growing number of young people who have completed their basic education, in order to offer them further educational and training opportunities and foster their employability.
The PROMOST project period was 12 years and closed in Rwanda in 2023. Activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi will finish up in 2025.
Initially, the project focused on institutional capacity building in Rwanda’s Western Province and increasing the effectiveness of trainings by improving their accessibility, quality, and pertinence. At the same time, the project beefed up institutional and organisational capacities of the most important actors, harmonising curricula, tests, and certifications both at the national and regional levels. Read more
A supply and demand approach
Since the very beginning, PROMOST has been focusing both on supply and demand: supply-side initiatives have included improving access for example through building and equipping vocational education institutions, developing training curricula that reflect the needs of the labour market, training of vocational school trainers, and in certain cases equipping partner companies and renovating their workshops as well as institutional capacity building. Read more
The PROMOST project in the Great Lakes region has achieved notable successes, reaching 19,037 underprivileged people from endangered groups (target outreach: 12,650), and the share of women in this outreach was a significant 40%.
Of those completing the programme, 8,832 were able to find a job or establish their own company, reflecting an average employment rate of 51%. The increase in monthly income for beneficiaries in Rwanda of RWF 72,853 (CHF 52.50) is tangible proof of the programme’s positive economic impact.
Furthermore, 78 MSMEs received material assistance in the programme, 32 of which in the DRC, 8 in Burundi, and the rest in Rwanda.
A dual, apprenticeship-based training system requires concepts and strategies that grow over time. As shown by the Rwandan dual training model, which is advanced by vocational education and training institutions, it often makes better sense for these institutions to focus on just one or two sectors in developing and testing TVET models. It might be possible to involve so-called “Centres of Excellence” in these models, which the Rwandan government would like to establish.
This approach has been proven effective in Kenya, where TVET institutions are testing dual, apprenticeship-based training models and private sector companies are piloting apprenticeship /internship models.
Rwanda is not the only country in which there is ongoing debate as to who should lead the dual training system: the educational institutions or the private sector, or even professional associations. Through analysis and discussions with the main stakeholders, it has become all too clear that the private sector cannot take on sole responsibility for a “Swiss” dual system. This also applies to other countries boasting a similar level of socio-economic development.
For this reason, the decision to institutionalise the dual, apprenticeship-based education and training system may be realistic, but must be accompanied by a commitment to include the private sector as an equal partner.