The Role of Donors
In the years following independence, TVSD in Africa was strongly supported by multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, which regarded training as a potential factor of modernisation for African societies. From 1964 to 1969, formal TVET was the second largest recipient of World Bank loans for education, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the total amount loaned. However, the TVSD share of the World Bank education loans was cut to 10 per cent in the late 1970s and has decreased steadily since then, falling to 6 per cent in the 1993 and 1998 period.
The sharp drop in multilateral support to TVSD during the 1990s is widely attributed to the outcome of the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA, 5–9 March 1990) after which both bilateral and multilateral donor agencies increased the focus on expanding universal primary education, partly at the expense of initial youth training and continuing adult training.
Figure 11 shows that both bilateral and multilateral commitments exhibited large fluctuations over the period 1995 to 2006. Bilateral commitments reveal an upward trend. But multilateral commitments do not (they appear to fluctuate around an average of USD 50 million per year). In some years the fluctuations offset one another. According to the latest available OECD DAC statistics the slow down experienced in 2004 and 2005 seem to have been reversed in 2006, where total commitments increased by 80 per cent compared to the average of the two previous years, to more than USD 180 million. The question will be whether this increase will be maintained for the coming years or whether the erratic pattern experienced over the last 15 years will continue.
The recent rise in the bilateral and multilateral ODA commitment to vocational training in Africa reflects the recognition that the education targets could not be reached by simply focusing on them alone. Rather they had to be reconceptualised and made just one part of much more holistic sectoral and inter-sectoral development projects. This holistic approach was emphasised by the Commission for Africa Report (2005), the Millennium Project (2005), and the World Bank policies on secondary, higher education and skill development.
Figure 12 shows the educational funding broken down by sub-sectors, which illustrate the rising importance of primary education in donors’ commitment at the expenses of other categories. More specifically, the share of bilateral donor ODA commitments to primary education in Africa increased from 11 percent in 1995 to 27 per cent in 2000 and to 34 per cent in 2006. A similar trend appears for multilateral donor ODA commitments to primary education, which increased from 9 per cent in 1995 to 20 per cent in 2000 and to 25 per cent in 2006. The share of vocational training in bilateral ODA commitment to education remains unaltered at around 3 to 4 per cent throughout the entire period. The share of multilateral donor ODA commitment to vocational training only increased slightly from 8 per cent in 1995 to 10 per cent in 2006, after having fallen to only 3 per cent in 2000.
Africa’s regional share of the total bilateral ODA commitments to vocational training increased from 21 per cent in 1995 to 33 per cent in 2006, although its share had peaked in 2003 at 54 per cent. Africa’s regional share of total multilateral ODA commitments to vocational training fluctuated even more extensively. Although the share more than doubled from 22 per cent in 1995 to 48 per cent in 2006, it had reached both 78 and 81 per cent in respectively 1997 and 2001.
In 1995, the World Bank and the European Commission were by far the most important vocational training donors in terms of commitments. Of the USD 19.8 million in 2005 constant prices, almost a third was committed by France, followed by the Netherlands, accounting for 25 per cent of the overall bilateral Aid amount. The other major DAC bilateral donors were Belgium (15 per cent); Switzerland (12 per cent) and Denmark (7 per cent).
By 2006 the picture had changed significantly. Bilateral ODA commitments to the vocational training sector in Africa has since 1999 been dominated by Germany whose rank amongst donors alternated between second and first (since 2004), and whose commitment in 2006 of USD 48.4 million exceeded both that of the African Development Fund (AfDF) (USD 43 million) and the EC (USD 36.6 million). Germany’s share of 44 per cent of the total USD 109 million of bilateral ODA commitments in 2006 also by far distanced the other important bilateral donors including Spain (11 per cent); France (10 per cent); Luxembourg (7 per cent); Netherlands (7 per cent); Japan (5 per cent) and Belgium (5 per cent). These seven DAC donors were together responsible for 89 per cent of all bilateral ODA commitments to the vocational training sector in Africa.
Likewise, in 2006 two thirds of the total ODA commitments to vocational training in Africa was concentrated in 10 recipients with Uganda (14.15 per cent) and Mozambique (11.62 per cent) alone both receiving more than 11 per cent of the grand total each. The other major recipients include Egypt (9.92 per cent); South Africa (9.89 per cent); Senegal (9.22 per cent); Mauritania (7.99 per cent); Algeria (4.46 per cent); Morocco (3.22 per cent); Burkina Faso (2.85 per cent); and Ethiopia (2.53 per cent). These 10 countries together received 66 per cent of the USD 109 million committed to vocational training.
The situation was very much different in 1995, where the total bilateral ODA commitments of USD 19.8 million were even more concentrated amongst the 10 most important recipients, which accumulated more than 86 per cent. The ranking amongst those was also very different. In 1995 Côte d’Ivoire was the most important recipient with 23.60 per cent, followed by Zimbabwe (13.65 per cent); Chad (10.10 per cent); Eritrea (9.54 per cent); Togo (6.69 per cent); South Africa (6.67 per cent); Mozambique (4.77 per cent); Kenya (4.30 per cent); Angola (3.57 per cent) and finally Rwanda (2.69 per cent). In many countries, donors’ support to TVSD is currently channelled through the Sector-Wide Approach (SWAP), which entails an integrated and inter-sectoral approach to education. The SWAP approach is based on a sectoral policy document and global strategic framework, the existence of a sector medium-term expenditure framework and of an annual budget. The adoption of such a result-oriented approach is crucial to avoid duplication and fragmentation of support. A key challenge in this regard is to develop recipient country capacity, especially bringing the planning processes of different ministries under a single institutional umbrella and developing strength to negotiate with and manage donors. Important efforts should be done also to improve donors’ co-ordination and avoid the continuation of isolated, parallel projects in collaboration with various Ministries.
Past experiences show that many donors’ projects are short-lived because they do not include a sustainable funding strategy, they are not integrated in the local context, and they do not sufficiently involve local communities. Additional efforts are necessary to improve alignment with national and local priorities, and to redirect donors’ human and financial resources towards providing skills for the informal sector, which is too often forgotten, despite its primordial role in alleviating poverty and promoting development in Africa. In order to improve co-ordination and harmonisation, donors and national governments need to monitor, assess and disseminate their research and consultancy insights on this complex but crucial subsector. Thus already in 1996 a donor network called the Working Group for International Cooperation in Skills Development was formed as a vehicle for knowledge-sharing. The Network is an informal group of bi- and multilateral donor agencies and international organisations involved in international assistance to TVSD. Its Secretariat includes the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Labour Office (ILO) and the Network for Policy Review Research and Advice on Education and Training (NORRAG). In 2005, another International Group of Vocational Training Experts (GEFOP) has been set up by the French Development Agency (AFD) to provide better documentation in the area.64 The first conference of GEFOP took place in Paris in November 2007 and focussed on three themes of strategic importance both within national policies and in donors’ interventions: Training in the informal sector, training in the rural areas, and financing and regulation of TVSD. Youth inclusion in the labour markets was a transversal theme to the whole conference. These initiatives provide a platform for policy learning from donors’ and practitioners' insights, highlighting innovative and successful examples of donors’ supported projects, which are aligned with national efforts and integrated with the specific local context.