The project brings together three teams with strong track records in academic and impactful research on African VET. In England, Prof Simon McGrath (overall project lead) and Dr Volker Wedekind at the University of Nottingham UK, both have extensive experience of working in Africa on VET. In Uganda, Prof Jacques Zeelen and Prof George Openjuru respectively are UNESCO Chair and Vice Chancellor at Gulu University. In South Africa, we are working with Dr Presha Ramsarup and Prof Stephanie Allais at the REAL Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof Heila Lotz-Sisitka at Rhodes University.
The partnership brings together a group of individuals and institutions with a history of interconnection and a shared concern about the VET-development relationship. This team of established senior academics is complemented by researchers and administrators. Full details on the VET Africa 4.0 project partners can be found below.
Nottingham University, United Kingdom
The University of Nottingham dates back to the late 1700s with the opening of an adult education school here in Nottingham. Today the university has campuses in Nottingham, China and Malaysia, with a commitment to “learning and scholarship that transforms lives”. The university is committed to international education, transformative research, and engagement internationally to enhance industry, health and well-being, policy formation, culture and purposeful citizenship.
The University is one of only two globally to combine a UNESCO Chair and UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre with combined focus on vocational education and training. The School of Education hosts the UNESCO Chair in International Education and Development (convened by Prof McGrath) and a UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre (convened by Dr Wedekind).
You can contact the University of Nottingham team directly by emailing Dr Jo-Anna Russon (Jo-Anna.Russon@nottingham.ac.uk).
REAL Center at University of Witswatersrand, South Africa
The Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) was established as a full-fledged research centre at the Wits School of Education in 2012. The REAL Centre conducts research into areas of theoretical, practical, and policy concern focused on the complex relationships between education, knowledge, work, the economy, and society with an aim to promote social, economic and ecological sustainability and a more just society. REAL’s work thus covers many areas of relevance to academics, policymakers, education and training professionals, employers, trade unions and other interested parties.
REAL’s work is broadly defined into three main overarching areas within the theme:
Rethinking the Politics, Practices, and Policies of the Post School Sector. These three foci shape the centre’s research and teaching, as well as on-going efforts to contribute to major government initiatives and development priorities.
Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University, South Africa
The Environmental Learning Research Centre is the home of a vibrant and diverse community of scholars and environmental education practitioners, and forms a regional hub of environmental learning innovation. Through partnerships, the centre aims to promote and encourage social scientific methodological innovation to produce knowledge of African education and social–ecological contexts.
In support of this collaborative approach to knowledge-building, the ELRC’s Sustainability Commons has been developed as a space for social innovation, engaging the border zones between the academy, public sector and civil society; between theory and practice; and knowledge, learning and human agency.
The ELRC has a number of small-scale demonstration projects which it is developing to demonstrate sustainability practices. The focus is on community engaged research to support learning to adopt/adapt such sustainability practices. The organisations involved include the student environment committees, Umthathi Training, St Mary’s Development and Care Centre, Inqaba Yegolide Youth Co-op and the local Eco-Schools. There is also an exhibition by Michelle Cox and Tony Dold as well as partnerships with various local craft businesses and entrepreneural activities.
Gulu University, Uganda
Gulu University, is a Public University in Uganda established in 2002 by the University and other tertiary institution Act 2001. It is located in the Northern part of the country with six faculties and 2 institutes. As a public university located in a post conflict area, it is expected to play a crucial role in transforming the lives of people in its community, especially the youths. Its motto therefore is ‘for community transformation’ and the mission is ‘to provide access to higher education, research and conduct quality professional training for the delivery of appropriate services directed towards community transformation and conservation of bio diversity.
UNESCO Chair on Life Long Learning, Youth and Work, is one is of the key Development issues in Sub Saharan Countries: the inclusion of young people in education, training and work. Sub-sahara Africa has the youngest population in the world with some 600 million people under the age of 25. Moreover, while young people globally suffer high unemployment levels, the condition is worse in Sub-Saharan African Countries where youth unemployment remains a serious challenge. Youth Unemployment in Uganda is among the highest in Africa. Unemployment and Underemployment cause severe economic and social marginalization of the youth, contributing to illegal migration (in the region but also to Europe), prostitution, crime, drug abuse and recruitment and abduction into terrorist groups. Uganda is especially affected by these developments. Specific to the Acholi sub region in Uganda where the UNESCO Chair is based, is the problem of post conflict realities that presents the challenges of retaining and reintegration of war affected youth into the communities ways of life into the communities way of life after their traumatic experiences with Lord’s Resistance Army and Refugee/Security camps.