Despite increased numbers of classrooms and teaching personnel over the last few years, the education system in Côte d’Ivoire is struggling to absorb the country’s fast-growing young population. About 42% of the population is under the age of 15, with 50% under the age of 20. The private education system is absorbing much of the growth, and is expected to develop further with rising demand for education and an expanding middle class. Both public and private institutions, however, are facing difficulties providing quality education adapted to the needs of the labour market, but both are working with the private sector to develop curricula and training programmes based on workforce needs.
The private sector has already begun investing in the local education system. In November 2017 Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), an impact investing group, and charitable organisation Jacobs Foundation launched an education impact fund to provide financial and managerial support to 10 education-related start-ups and small enterprises. The fund includes both seed financing (smaller loans ranging from €10,000 to €60,000) and development financing (from €60,000 to €200,000). Meanwhile, US-based Georgia State University backed the launch of the International University of Grand-Bassam in 2007, which aims to become a centre of excellence on the international level. Drawing on American educational methods and offering classes in English, the university hosts 786 students from 22 countries. To finance the university, a foundation was created to raise funds for need-based scholarships and the development of career, study abroad and internship programmes. More recently, in June 2018 well-known former Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba built a school in his home region of Pokou-Kouamekro. The facility, which has a capacity of 350 pupils, opened in a previously underserved rural area and replaced an existing school made of mud.
Matching Market Needs
More broadly, the collaboration between private companies and training institutions is crucial to identify skills needed in the job market and develop training in line with these needs.
The government is working with global organisations, such as the French Development Agency and the World Bank, to develop improved vocational training. Additionally, other international partners are helping the government develop tailored trainings. In November 2017 the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Ivorian government signed a $524.7m agreement aimed at fostering economic growth and decreasing poverty through increased access to education and adapted training to match labour market needs. The Skills for Employability and Productivity project includes secondary education development, teacher training, and the creation of a new technical and vocational education model.
Efforts to address the skills gap have also created opportunities for collaboration with the local and international private sector to develop a workforce more tailored to the needs of the market. Tech giants Microsoft and Facebook, in partnership with the African Development Bank and the US’s Rockefeller Foundation, launched a regional Coding for Employment programme in mid-2018 aimed at teaching young people to code and connecting them with local employers. Additionally, the Université Virtuelle de Côte d’Ivoire has partnered with companies such as Microsoft and French telecoms firm Orange to deliver professional certifications.
Vocational and technical education is set to provide opportunities outside the traditional higher education system, helping the population meet the demands of the domestic job market. Addressing the skills gap will also lead to a more qualified workforce and enhanced opportunities for growth and investment. Efforts by officials to partner with both international organisations and the private sector are already paying off, while the renewed focus on tailoring training to fit specific needs is expected to continue positively impacting the job market in the short to medium term.
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