While many countries have overlooked vocational education to focus on schools and universities, Tanzania has had a thriving vocational segment for decades. Indeed, it has proved more responsive to the needs of an evolving society and a growing market than much of the education sector, and has taken a lead in involving foreign and private sector partners, a model that is likely to be expanded in the coming years.
One of the main vocational training institutions in the country is the government-run Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA). Established by Parliamentary Act 82 in 1994 and revised in 2006, VETA works to coordinate, provide, finance and develop professional training in Tanzania. The organisation provides funding for vocational training activities, with regional boards organising local activities under the guidance of the VETA central board. VETA produces 18,000-20,000 graduates from its courses every year. The organisation aims to ensure that vocational education is driven by demand to meet the needs of the market and keep pace with Tanzania’s evolving economy. It works closely with the private sector, which is involved in developing curricula and training standards, in addition to coordinating with VETA’s national board.
The authority is in the process of developing an apprenticeship system modelled on that of Germany, in which students spend a few weeks with employers mid-course before returning to complete their studies. This helps develop a pipeline of talent, while students gain vital practical experience. Many of these internship programmes are half funded by VETA, with the other half funded by the employers. “Our aim is to ensure that we provide qualified people who can work at a high level in an increasingly competitive market,” Bwire Ndazi, the acting director-general of VETA, told OBG.
As a government institution VETA aligns its courses with national development goals by promoting priority sectors, such as ICT, agribusiness and transportation. It also has programmes to support entrepreneurs who do not have a formal education. Offering training to people with disabilities is another area of focus.
International cooperation is important to VETA. For instance, in March 2013 Colleges and Institutes Canada, an organisation of Canadian higher education institutions, signed a C$13m ($9.9m) agreement with VETA, the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology and Arusha Technical College to support the development of vocational education in Tanzania. The deal has seen four of VETA’s centres partner with Canadian colleges that have similar sector focuses, which has involved Canadian experts travelling to Tanzania to support teachers, help with curriculum development and run workshops. The chosen VETA institutions are: Mwanza, focusing on heavy mechanics; Moshi, on instrumentation laboratories; Morogoro, specialising in teacher and educational manager training; and Arusha, in tourism and hospitality. Canadian participants include the College of New Caledonia and the College of the Rockies, both based in British Columbia.
“We are looking at engaging other international partners to help us deliver top-level skills. They are very important,” Ndazi told OBG. “We can’t work in isolation, we need to collaborate and it’s very important to see what other countries are doing as well. We are focusing both on the quality of training and increasing the number of trainees. Currently, we are only able to meet around 30% of demand for vocational training, but with international partners we should be able to provide more reliable, skilled people for employers.”
Foreign and private sector partners can also assist with funding. The 2004 government plan to establish a VETA training centre in every district has proved difficult to fulfil; only 28 of 169 districts were covered as of mid-2017. Thus, VETA is looking into public-private partnerships (PPPs) to expand its network. Ndazi expects the first PPP vocational education centres to open within the next five years. The authority is examining sectoral PPP models from the UK and the UAE.
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