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Afghanistan: First-ever National TVET Strategy Established

Afghanistan, a country balancing internal security and socio- economic development, sets TVET as a national priority to move the country forward. UNESCO’s TVET expert, Leon Gaskin, shares his perspectives on issues related to TVET in Afghanistan.

1. What are the latest developments in education and training in Afghanistan?

Nearly three decades of conflict in Afghanistan have resulted in the emergence of a population who have had limited access to quality skills training. Much progress has been made in recent years to address this reality - the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) has established vocational training institutes (both formal and non-formal), currently training more than 100,000 students, with continued expansion planned. Following the International Conference on Afghanistan (London, 2010), 22 priority areas were identified by the Government for the country’s development. The expansion and improvement of TVET was designated as a National Priority Programme. In 2014, with UNESCO’s support through its Capacity Development for Education for All (CapEFA) programme, the first ever National TVET Strategy was launched, laying out a vision for strengthening the TVET sector in Afghanistan.  However, demand for vocational skills training still far exceeds the absorption capacity of these institutes, with some segments of the population, particularly in rural areas, without access to quality skills training programs. There also remain serious concerns about quality within the sector.

 2. Who are the key state and non-state actors in TVET in the country?

There are several key agencies involved in TVET in Afghanistan.  The Deputy Ministry for TVET of the Ministry of Education (MoE) is the main provider of what is termed ‘formal’ TVET. The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyred and Disabled (MoLSAMD) operates a network of vocational training centers, which offer an additional stream of ‘non-formal’ TVET. The National Skills Development Programme (NSDP), located within MoLSAMD, is a flagship Government programme for TVET and has lead several major nationwide skills training programmes. NSDP is also the lead agency for the development of National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS). The Committee on Education and Skills Policy (CESP), located within the Office of the First Vice President, is the agency tasked with leading the development of key regulatory bodies and frameworks for the TVET sector (the Afghan National Qualifications Authority (ANQA) and the TVET Board). Once established, the ANQA and TVET Board will provide much needed accreditation, certification and quality assurance services to the TVET sector.  In addition, there are numerous private training providers and NGOs which offer short-term skills training programmes; nationwide, more than 50% of TVET students are enrolled in private institutes and, in many rural areas, NGOs are the sole source of vocational skills training.

3. Based on your experience, what are the main challenges that need to be tackled to advance TVET development in Afghanistan?

Despite the progress that has been made over the past few years, TVET is still facing a number of serious challenges. Access to vocational education and training is low and it is severely hampered by the lack of sufficient and properly equipped learning spaces and facilities. In addition, the ongoing security challenges hinder the expansion of training, particularly in rural areas where the comparably high illiteracy rate, estimated at 70% in the country, is especially pronounced. The existing curriculum offered in TVET schools and centers is yet to be competency-based and better respond to labour market needs. Afghanistan also does not yet have a central system of certification and provider accreditation, hampering the recognition of learning achievement. The wide range of actors involved and invested in TVET poses an additional challenge in coordinating the provision of quality TVET service and establishing common standards across the sector. Finally, the shortage of qualified TVET teachers and personnel is a pressing concern, especially given that 50% of the population is under 15 years old and that enrolments in TVET are expected to grow in the coming years.

The National TVET Strategy acknowledges these challenges and identifies 4 key areas for improvement: expanded access, improved quality, strengthened governance, and the development of sustainable financing mechanisms.  

4. Based on the challenges, which should be the focus areas for TVET development in Afghanistan. How can these be supported by development partners and the donor community?

The TVET sector in Afghanistan has many pressing needs but if I were to highlight two priority areas it would be the establishment of a strong regulatory framework and the expansion of training provision, especially in rural areas. Support from the donor community has been strong for TVET but continued commitments are needed to effect sustainable change. 

5. What is UNESCO’s role in supporting TVET in Afghanistan? 

Since 2010, UNESCO has supported TVET in Afghanistan as part of the CapEFA programme. Its role includes assistance in  the development and rollout of the first-ever National TVET Strategy, support to key partners in establishing the National TVET Rese arch Centre, now affiliated with the UNEVOC Network and support for the development of a digitalized TVET management information system. UNESCO has also provided extensive technical support to CESP in establishing the aforementioned TVET regulatory institutions. In addition, whilst not directly focused on TVET, UNESCO’s Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) Program also delivers basic literacy training to adult learners, increasing their employability in the labour market.

For more information,  please contact Mr. Leon Gaskin, CapEFA/TVET Programme Officer [l.gaskin(at)unesco.org].or Barbara Trzmiel, Research Assistant [b.trzmiel(at)unesco.org] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit.


Edited by Barbara Trzmiel [b.trzmiel(at)unesco.org] and Sandra Yap [lc.yap(at)unesco.org]


Related links:

National TVET Strategy

UNEVOC Network



16.04.2015