2021 saw the beginning of the new regional project, led by the Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE) Secretariat: Enhancements in the quality of education and training in SEE – EQET SEE project (EQET SEE). The project officially started on 1st October 2021, and is expected to last until 30th September 2024. It is financed by the Austrian Development Agency with funds from Austrian Development Cooperation, with the total budget of around 2 mill EUR, and co-financed by ERI SEE.
The EQET SEE project will aim to contribute to the reduction of youth unemployment in South Eastern Europe by supporting the development of labour-market oriented, socially inclusive and high-quality education in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia. The project is the continuation of recently finalised Towards Regionally Based Occupational Standards – TO REGOS.
The project will tackle two strands: the VET and Quality assurance in pre-tertiary education. The reason for VET intervention lies in the need for a higher cooperation between business and education sector in the region, acquisition of labour-market relevant skills in education and training, greater representation of work-based learning elements in the curricula and adequate support to teachers and company instructors to implement these curricula. All this is to enhance the VET provision and consequently the employability of young people in the region.
To tackle the challenges identified above, the VET strand of the project will focus on:
- Development of regionally-based, labour market oriented occupational (OS), qualifications standards (QS) and VET curricula incorporating work-based learning, and
- Assuring quality of VET provision through developing supporting measures and material (guidelines for work-based learning, trainings for teachers and company instructors and teaching and learning material). All this will have an impact on the skills acquired by teachers, company instructors and pupils.
And why did we decide to include the interventions in the QA aspects, more concretely external evaluation of institutions? Because this is a great instrument designed to support schools in their quality developments; but because of the current over-administration and lack of partnership approach in the external evaluation processes it doesn’t quite function as such. Throughout the project we wish to focus on quality improvements – rather than on formal or administrative aspects, communication between policy-makers, policy-implementors and schools, and greater investment into internal quality systems of the QA bodies implementing the external evaluation.
To tackle the above, the focus of this project is on
- Supporting external quality developments and quality culture through the revision of QA (external evaluation) methodologies, accompanying instruments and tools and
- Supporting internal quality developments through regional quality standards, procedures and trainings for quality agencies themselves.
This is to have an impact on a more efficient quality analysis and use of evidence for policy making, strengthening the quality culture at the school level and quality of work of external evaluators. Within the project, the new products and approaches will be piloted in a number of schools across the region.
The project is implemented in cooperation with the strategic partners – ministries of education, European Training Foundation, WB6 CIF, OeAD and Standing International Conference of Inspectorates (SICI). At national level, the project will be implemented by VET agencies, chambers of commerce and quality assurance (QA) agencies in pre-tertiary education from the region.
We are looking forward to new paths ahead!