The European Union (EU) and the Liberian government have signed two financing agreements valued at Euro24 million or US$29 million to support efforts that aim to improve technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., signed for the Liberian government, while EU Ambassador to Liberia Helene Cave signed for her government. The signing ceremony was held on Thursday, May 3, in the conference room of the Finance Ministry.
The money will make significant contributions to the government’s “pro-poor agenda,” fostering governance and promoting institution building by focusing on Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), according to Ambassador Cave and will be complementary to EU’s efforts in supporting the supply side of accountability in the four focal sectors of EU cooperation in Liberia, which are education, agriculture, governance and energy.
The main targets of the programme, according to Ambassador Cave, are Liberian middle-level CSOs that are interested and willing to get more deeply involved as well as play a stronger role in domestic public policies. She said the program is also intended to be complementary to the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project, implemented by the World Bank, which the EU is supporting through a multi-donor trust fund.
“These two programs are the first that we are signing since President Weah’s administration took power in January, but they will not be the last. The EU has a long-term commitment to Liberia. We will continue to work closely with the government to identify ways in which we can support their ‘pro-poor agenda,'” said ambassador Cave.
She added that the programs will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Euro 20 million will go directly to TVET for a period of six years while Euro 4 million will go to CSOs’ initiatives.
“Quality, technical and vocational education is the key to unlocking employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young people, while the active involvement of CSOs in policy development and monitoring of service delivery is an important element of sustainable development,” she said.
The program will, therefore, support the government to modernize TVET, promote training in strategic sectors of the economy, foster an entrepreneurial culture and equip youth with skills that actually match labor market demand and respond to new economic growth opportunities.
“It will directly support a number of schools to strengthen links with the private sector, to ensure the education and skills on offer match local demand. Based on initial consultations these include ICT, agriculture, technology, electrification with focus on rural electrification, among others,” she added.
She said EU will also send a number of vocational instructors abroad for training and practice for up to a year so that they can serve upon their return as instructors in TVET schools and as master trainers in the Centre of Excellence for Vocational Instructor Training that will be established with support from the program.
The schools that will initially be supported include MVTC, BWI, Greenville Multilateral High School; Cape Palmas High School and Zwedru Multilateral High School.
Ambassador Cave said the element of support at the central level means the program will also create a framework that the government can eventually extend to other public schools in the future should funding become available.
“We are confident that the government will embrace and adopt the project from the very beginning so that after six years of support and financing the schools –by then upgraded and modernized-will remain fully operational and will deliver high-quality TVET to students.
“We remain committed to our agreement to support and improve the labor force by empowering the young people of this country through the provision of quality TVET and look forward to working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Education under this program,” she said.
Minister of Education Prof. Ansu Sonii said the program is in line with President George Weah’s quest to providing a better education for his citizens.
Minister Sonii said there are too many young people who are waiting to be reprocessed into active self-productive citizens, to contribute to the development of Liberia, and the agreement will ensure that it is implemented under the “pro-poor agenda.”
Meanwhile, MFDP Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., said EU remains one of the most trusted partners to the Government of Liberia and said over the next six years of the government’s development plan process, “we look to deepen this partnership and to see the possibility for stronger coordination and cooperation.”