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Upskilling students and the workforce with circular economy principles

On 21 and 22 September 2022, UNESCO-UNEVOC, in collaboration with Circle Economy, conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) programme on ‘Circular Economy in Entrepreneurial Learning in TVET’. Eighty-four teachers from eight TVET institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda participated in the training aimed at discovering actionable areas that can be implemented and led by TVET teachers and instructors.

The workshop was organized as part of the UNESCO-UNEVOC project on ‘Capacity Building of TVET Personnel and Institutions and Upskilling of TVET Graduates to Manage an Inclusive and Sustainable Post-pandemic Recovery’, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project aims to support TVET institutions and training providers in implementing measures to adapt to an accelerated phase of digitalization and greening of education, training and work. In addition, it seeks to strengthen the capabilities of TVET personnel, institutions and training providers in guiding young people in their entry or re-entry to new job markets and entrepreneurial ventures, with a focus on youth affected by unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ToT workshop, facilitated by Ilektra Kouloumpi and Apoorva Shankar from Circle Economy, introduced the concept of circular economy and circular business innovation to the participants. Trainers gained knowledge, insights and tools to strengthen their capabilities to integrate circular economy principles, ideas and practices into their curricula and implement them locally. The workshop was designed with an open and interactive setting to understand new concepts, exchange ideas, gain insights on how to teach about circular economy and engage in hands-on exercises with like-minded professionals.

Participants were introduced to the relevance and urgency of the circular economy as a concept and its significance to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as other impact and sustainability agendas. They also had the opportunity to learn about circular economy frameworks, such as the Key Elements Framework, and understand how circularity is implemented in practice through case studies.

Lastly, participants unpacked the concept of ‘systems thinking’ and ‘resilience building’ and, through practical exercises, understood how to integrate or introduce circular economy learning within their curricula and the local context. During the training, participants had the opportunity to learn from African entrepreneurs who are already applying the principle of closed-loop production to their businesses. One such example was Yetroselane, a home-grown enterprise that uses materials offcuts to create new items.

The TVET teachers and instructors were challenged to create prototypes of how they plan on integrating and introducing the circular economy in pedagogy and lesson planning, student engagement, research and community engagement activities. This led to the creation of seven different learning plans, which were presented during a post-learning workshop on 5 October. The main action areas for the integration of circular economy into the curricula were the promotion of lifelong learning, the creation of more sustainable enterprises and profitable employment, and active citizenship and social inclusion as essential pillars of post-pandemic recovery.

Feedback from participants

“I appreciate greatly about the insightful sessions I was taken through to gain knowledge about the current trends and job opportunities in the system if I am able to embrace the circular economy. As an entrepreneur, I now understand that nothing should be wasted without taking a second look at it. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Vincent Tete Sakyi, University of Cape Coast, Ghana

“We appreciate the fact that we have so much we can do in our institution to avoid wastage and to manage waste. The training was very insightful.”

Monicah Rotich, Rift Valley Technical Training Institute, Kenya

“I had little knowledge of a closed loop economy, hence with much anticipation I looked forward to the two-day workshop, and I'm glad I was a participant. I can now draw up a curriculum and specifically incorporate circular economy into fine art courses such as painting, drawing and sculpture.”

Etim Ekpenyong Mfon, Yaba College of Technology, Nigeria

“The workshop was a great experience. I am looking forward to imparting the knowledge that I gained in the training.”

Tracy Zama Khuzwayo, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

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