UNESCO-UNEVOC has recognised the TVET colleges partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Cisco Networking Academy as a global best practice.

The partnership is designed to align Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college curricula with ongoing developments in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), thereby ensuring students have access to the most up-to-date and relevant content that will boost employability once they graduate.

The relationship between Cisco and the DHET commenced in 2017 and aligns with the UNESCO-UNEVOC Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET (BILT) project. This was established to create opportunities for collaboration and provide a platform for bridging innovation and learning between Europe, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

Aflie Hamid, senior manager for global partnerships at Cisco, says: “The Cisco Network Academy forms a key part of the project. By using existing in-demand ICT courses available through the Cisco Network Academy, TVET students can complete a range of supplementary offerings and have them recognised and accredited toward their certification standards in South Africa. Fields such as Cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, and programming are only increasing in importance in terms of valued workforce skills.”


Rethinking curriculum

The DHET is the government ministry in charge of higher education institutions in the country, which includes 50 TVET colleges on 270 campuses that enrol more than 750,000 students annually. Along with Cisco, the DHET has designed this project to provide curriculum updates that reflect industry needs on a regular basis.

Even in a system in which curricula and programmes are regularly reviewed, they can become uncoordinated with quickly shifting 4IR demands and technology. However, by linking to learning content from Cisco that is at the forefront of 4IR developments, the DHET can continue to teach relevant skills and competencies without the need for disproportionate or hasty changes to curricula and programmes. Each new training is properly recognised within the existing curricular structure. This also ensures teachers and instructors are equipped with the latest industry knowledge as they prepare their lessons.

“The partnership with Cisco adds value to certifications and gives learners better employment prospects at a pace that keeps up with rapidly changing developments in technology without the need to fully overhaul curricula. We focused on what was most in demand and have the most relevance in the job market” says, David Modiba Masilu, Deputy Director: DHET Curriculum Development and Support for TVET.


Evolving education

“Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future. Critical to this is creating connections through access to infrastructure, forging opportunities by investing in people to help create a knowledge economy and including all citizens to give them efficient technology solutions to address their unique local needs. It is education that provides a bridge between all these pillars,” adds Hamid.

Since its inception in South Africa in 1998, the Cisco Networking Academy has reached over 121 000 individuals with the company investing more than R200 million towards IT skills advancement. Currently, there are over 151 networking academies across South Africa that include universities, TVET Colleges, as well as public benefit organisations.