The graduating youths
* Through Maone Vocational Training Center, the programme provides opportunities to rural communities who have no formal qualifications
* It is aimed to improve the standards of technical, entrepreneurial and vocational education and training
* This is done in order for youths to gain skills to progress into the world of work as part of job creation
By Duncan Mlanjira
Done in collaboration with government institution, Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA) — Malawi Relief Fund (MRF)-UK has achieved another milestone by graduating 95 students in informal vocational training programmes of bricklaying, joinery & carpentry, and tailoring.
Done through Maone Vocational Training Center, the programme provides opportunities to rural communities who have no formal qualifications and is aimed to improve the standards of technical, entrepreneurial and vocational education and training.
This is done in order for youths to gain skills to progress into the world of work as part of job creation. The programme also builds their capacity and knowledge that can help them lead healthier and more sustainable lives.
A statement from MRF-UK Country Manager, Yakub Valli says the Maone Vocational Training Center is operated by MRF-UK, with support from Issa Foundation that offers formal vocational training programmes including plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, electrical and PV Solar.
And MRF is working closely with the government authority, TEVETA, who developed the informal programme which provides opportunities to individuals who don’t have the qualification but wish to pursue a skill-based route to industry.
Maone Vocational Training Center Principal, Mr. Alide is quoted as saying he was proud and honoured to preside over the first cohort of graduates in the informal programme despite facing many challenges.
“To be eligible to access the formal apprenticeship, one should have a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and/or its equivalent,” he said. “This excludes many who failed to complete the secondary school or failed their MSCE.
“It is important for our economy and industry that we ensure that those who are not academic have an opportunity to pursue a vocational career. Therefore, this informal programme offers a pathway for those who may not otherwise have had an opportunity.
“Today we see the fruits as the participants graduate from the programme. We have established three such centres in rural areas in Chiradzulu District, in the areas of Senior Chief Ntchema and Traditional Authority Onga at Chotokwa, Chapola and Swadick with guidance from TEVETA and National Informal Sector Training Providers Association.
On his part, Yakub Valli said “this programme is vital for our economy and our objectives to promote empowerment and sustainability. The informal programmes improve access to education and training for all, in particular those in rural areas.
“We have taken the education and learning to the rural areas in order to improve accessibility and inclusion in the education system. Due to the success and demand, we have planned to open another 5 centres. We are also working with TEVETA to see how we can improve the informal programme.”
Valli further expressed his thanks and appreciation to Issa Foundation for providing financial resources to enable Maone Centre to deliver the vocational training programmes.
Each of graduates received a toolkit which included essential tools and equipment, whilst the tailoring programme graduates received a sewing machine — to enable the graduates to undertake paid work and or produce items for sale to earn a living.
“The individuals are now empowered to be economically active and become productive members of our society,” Valli said.
This graduation ceremony was graced Chiradzulu District Commissioner and his officers, Senior Chief Ntchema and Traditional Authority Onga and other chiefs, among others.
Last month, MRF-UK — the charity foundation that supports the underprivileged through so many programmes — empowered 38 youths with starter pack tool kits to support their vocational skill they also attained from their training at Maone Centre in carpentry & joinery; bricklaying and plumbing.
This is in line with MRF-UK’s objective of supporting government’s efforts to empower young people with vocational skills that will enable them secure sustainable livelihoods and support themselves and their families.
Valli said they have invested K600 million to train young people for free, providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and help individuals break free from a cycle of dependency.
He stressed that their focus is to improve access to education, health, provide clean water & sanitation and to relieve poverty by building capacity through empowering programmes aimed at improving livelihood opportunities.
“The past three years have been extremely challenging through difficult economic conditions in the country following the CoVID-19 pandemic and cyclones, whose consequences increased costs that hindered our efforts to enhance areas of support.
“But we are focused to to provide meaningful project deliveries that include provision of vocational training centres in rural areas,” he said.
On Monday, when the government was launching the 2023 Population Week, it was disclosed that 91% of the population is without work, meaning only 9% makes up the country’s workforce.
At a press briefing, Principal Secretary for Economic Planning & Development in the Ministry of Finance, Patrick Zimpita, observed that the small percentage of the population in the workforce is under pressure to provide for the remaining 91%.
Zimpita also revealed that Malawi’s population is currently at 20.9 million with a projection of 21.2 million in 2024 under the current birth rate of 3.9%.
The country is observing the Population Week from Monday to Friday July, 14 under the theme: ‘Harnessing Gender-Centered Human Capital Investment for Socio-economic Transformation’.
During the population week, government plans is disseminating messages that spotlight women’s health problems during pregnancy and childbirth, family planning, gender equality, and maternal health.