This chapter provides a brief historical overview of skills development in Africa. After a brief consideration of the powerful and multifaceted colonial legacy, it tracks three dominant trends in vocational education and training (VET) systems and reform since independence. The combination of the strong presence of the colonial legacy as well as these three moments of VET reform have led to the current state of VET on the continent as weak, fragmented and littered with haphazard projects and reforms. It is from this point that a new approach must be built.
Summarizing the arguments of the book, this chapter reviews the effort to expand the social ecosystems for skills model. It considers some limitations to this approach. It then considers implications for vocational education and training (VET) policy and practice. Finally, it points to a new language for thinking about VET policy and practice.
This chapter introduces the main themes of the book. It justifies a concern with how the current policy and practice orthodoxy is not working despite the efforts of educators and learners. It is driven by a realization that the futures for which vocational education and training (VET) is intended to prepare people are ever more precarious at the individual, societal and planetary levels. And it is motivated by a sense that while better futures are possible, VET is poorly positioned to respond to the new skilling needs these will require. It introduces four cases from two Anglophone countries, Uganda and South Africa.
The book provides an immanent critique of the current state of VET and what underpins it being this way, and a vision of what a future, better VET might look like based on emerging visions of a better world and the first stirrings of new VET practices that are aligned with this vision. Thus, the book is intended to be part of an opening up of a new phase of VET research.