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AfDB approves US $19 million in loans and grants to boost skills of tradespeople and agro-scientists in Eritrea

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The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Board of Executive Directors approved on March 3 in Abidjan a US $19-million project comprising an African Development Fund (ADF) loan of US $10.7 million and an ADF grant of US $8.3 million to boost the Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) sector. The Support to Skills Development for Employability and Entrepreneurship (SDEEP) project includes US $2.1 million in counterpart funding from the Government of the State of Eritrea (GSoE) bringing the total project cost to US $21.1 million.

Eritrea is a relatively small country with 6 million inhabitants, a GDP per capita of US $543 and one of the lowest Human Development Index rankings at 177 out of 187 countries and territories. Ironically, the country receives the least development aid per capita and is now making significant efforts to boost private sector investments as well as human capital development.

The AfDB is the largest investor in the education sector in Eritrea contributing US $72 million since 2010.

“The project responds to the broader state-building agenda by ensuring long-term human capital development by building skills and strengthening institutions at district and national levels”, said Sunita Pitamber, AfDB’s Acting Director for Human Development.

To address the severe shortage of skilled labour, the Support to Skills Development for Employability and Entrepreneurship (SDEEP) Project will offer education and training to 1,400 highly-skilled TVET graduates, and 5,000 students in non-formal TVET programs by 2020.

Two new TVET schools will be built: one for technical and vocational skills in Mendefera – the country’s most populated area and the other for agricultural studies in Gash Barka. Young Eritreans will be taught auto mechanics, building construction, machine shops, electronics, electricity, and computer maintenance and networks. The skills taught in the new agricultural school will include plant science, animal science, agro mechanics, and soil and water conservation.

Linked to the labour market, the project promotes Public-Private Partnership (PPP) through active collaboration with local private enterprises including their participation in the training and apprenticeship of beneficiary students.

A key component of the project is capacity building for 180 teachers and 60 managers/staff so as to improve formal and non-formal TVET.

Mentoring and training on gender policy will be given to 200 women in science technology.

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