Forum on the Role of Youth in the Preparation of the ADEA 2012 Triennale

19 Oct 2011 to 21 Oct 2011

Introduction and Background

1. The ADEA Biennale held in Maputo in 2008 highlighted the fact that African countries have made remarkable progress in improving access, equity, progression and completion in education and training in African countries. However, it also noted that a major concern is the low level of critical skills and competencies among many young people who are graduating from the educational system at different levels and entering into the world of work. Hence the goal of the 2012 ADEA Triennale is to design and develop systems and mechanisms for acquiring critical knowledge, skills and qualifications that will help the continent meet the challenges of its future development. The Triennale is a policy dialogue which is expected to attract the 54 African Ministers of Education and Training, representatives of the private sector, development agencies, education experts, civil society organizations, the youth and other pertinent stakeholders. Implicitly, the involvement of national, sub-regional and regional officials responsible for education and training policies, as well as the youth and non-governmental organizations in the preparation for the Triennale is crucial to its success.

Post Conference Documents

    • Report on the Youth Consultation Forum , PDF

Conference Documents

    • Tentative Programme , PDF
    • Draft Concept Note , PDF
    • Media Alert, PDF
    • Press release Rabat , PDF

Context and Rationale

2. The theme of the 2012 Triennale, which is scheduled to take place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, is: Promoting critical knowledge, skills and qualifications for sustainable development in Africa: How to design and implement an effective response by education and training systems? The theme is a continuity of the Maputo Biennale held in 2008, and also in recognition of the real challenges which face African countries. One of the big challenges and paradoxes in education and training in Africa is that although many young people graduate from universities and colleges every year there is capacity deficit and most of the graduates remain unemployed. Africa’s population is inherently youthful with more than 200 million youths (aged 15-24 years), and constitute about one-third of the working age population. About three-fifths of the unemployed in Africa are young people.

3. Lack of relevant skills or a mismatch between skills and the labor market requirements has been attributed to youth unemployment. However, there are also examples of countries where youth unemployment co-exists with high levels of education and skills. It is therefore imperative that in developing the vision for tomorrow’s education and training at the Triennale, the youth with their varied national experiences and career aspirations, should be given a voice in a matter that possibly affects their lives and careers. What is certain about any steps at educational transformation is that all stakeholders, particularly the youth, must be actively involved in it because they are the major and direct beneficiary of educational and training systems. In addition, they are in a better position to evaluate the value of the current systems. The forum for consultation with the youth is therefore a necessary and crucial step in soliciting for their contribution which is intended to be an input in the discussions at the Triennale.

4. The Maputo Biennale, the forerunner of the Triennale, emphasized the need for all stakeholders to be considered as full partners in the identification of skill needs, mapping of occupational profiles and development of training curricula as well as in accreditation and certification at the end of skills development processes. It also noted that young people had the best chance of entering the world of work if they acquired knowledge, skills and qualifications through schemes developed and managed by partners working together. The overall objective of the youth consultation forum therefore is to provide them an opportunity to express their views at the Triennale on how the existing education and training systems can be reformed to respond to their employment and career needs and also be an instrument for rapid economic growth and sustainable development. The guiding principle in preparing for the Triennale is to generate and synthesize robust and policy-oriented knowledge that will constitute a viable and well-informed basis for policy dialogue at the Triennale. The youth consultation forum aims precisely at achieving that objective.


5. A key tenet of the consultation forum is that the success of the Triennale is contingent on the quality and policy relevance and ownership of discussions and decisions at the event which in turn are dependent on the quality, conciseness and robustness of data and information provided to the delegates. The youth consultation forum is therefore seeking to bring together youths from the various regions of Africa to: (i) examine the extent to which they are involved in the debates on the design and implementation of effective education and training mechanisms, and propose measures to enhance the active participation of youth in current or planned education reforms; (ii) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the existing training and vocational tracks, and identify the critical skills and competencies that they need for employment into skilled job or occupation; (iii) define their vision of sustainable development and of what needs to be done so that education and training systems can enhance or actualize the vision; (iv) propose ways and means for best pursuing the development of critical skills in vocational, technical and tertiary institutions with a view to eliminating African capacity deficit; and (v) propose the kind of education and training schemes that would enable African countries effectively tackle the extremely high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. 

6. The 3-day youth consultation forum is scheduled to take place in Rabat, Morocco on October 19-21, 2011. It will bring together 35 African youth. The term “youth” as defined by the African Youth Charter, refers to “any person from 15 to 35 years of age”. The forum is targeting young Africans in four population categories: youth in school, youth out of school, working youth and youth entrepreneurs. They will be drawn from all the sub-regions and there will be a reasonable representation of women. The invitees are well-informed individuals who are in a position to fully comprehend the inherent challenges in education and training, and their impact on the youth and national economic development. They are therefore capable of analyzing the current education and training systems and consequently propose best practice. It is perhaps noteworthy that the United Nations conducted a similar youth forum in 2004 to involve young people in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The European Union also conducted a youth consultation as part of the preparations for the Africa-Europe Youth Summit held in Lisbon in 2007.

Expected Outcomes

7. The youth consultation forum will produce a draft working paper that will spell out the specific contributions of young people to the design and implementation of effective education and training systems to enhance sustainable development of Africa. The working paper will be published on the internet and will be a subject of further dialogue among young people who are interested in contributing to education and training reforms on the continent. The contributions will be synthesized to produce a “Declaration of Young Africans” that will be complementary to the existing analytical work and will be presented at the Triennale. Other outcomes of the youth consultation forum are: (i) the youth’s evaluation of existing education and training systems and the impact on their employability and career; and (ii) their vision of the reforms that necessary in education and training systems.