From 10 to 14 July 2023, the meeting of SAAM Steering Committee and Work Package leaders took place in Dakar and Thies (Senegal).
The international meeting was organized within the framework of the SAAM (Supporting Alliance for African Mobility), a pilot project funded by the European Union and supported also by the African Union, with the aim of testing the feasibility of mobilities between these two continents for staff and students of vocational education and training centres. Despite the challenges linked to the security issues of the country, 21 participants from 8 different European and African countries met in Dakar to finalise the last steps of the project and discuss the different possibilities for the final conference of next year. The event was hosted by ESMP (Ecole Supérieure de Management de Projet) and the VET centre Don Bosco Thies.
Most of the African partners of the project belong to the network of Don Bosco Tech Africa, whose Director, Fr George Tharaniyil SDB, was present in the meeting, as well as Fr. Tresor Assamagan from the Salesian VET centre of Ivory Coast and the Executive Secretary of Don Bosco International.
Two days were dedicated to dialogues with European and national institutional stakeholders. Among the keynote speakers were: Ms Clarisse Liautaud, Program Officer Cooperation Section at the EU Delegation in Senegal; Amadou Oury Ba, Teacher-researcher in the Department of Germanic Languages and Civilizations at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of MESRI (national Erasmus focal point – designated for Senegal by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation); Abdoulaye Niang, Expert Erasmus – UCAD; a representative of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
Through small workshops and debates, the participants focused on the significance of the project’s final report, the outcomes of the capacity building of African staff, the pre-departure training of student mobility and future of SAAM Network.
During the stay in Dakar, the group visited the Gorée Island, which from the 15th to the 19th century was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast.
The journey continued in Thies, were for the last two days the group was warmly welcomed by Fr Antonio Herrera, Director of the VET centre (CFP) Don Bosco Thies. During the visit at the Salesian community and VET centre, the participants had the possibility to meet and talk with the students involved in the project. Their testimonies and enthusiasm about past and future mobilities proved the potential of the project in empowering young people and make them change-makers for their communities.
The meeting has been a very enriching experience, showing how important the investments in vocational education and training are for Senegal, especially for fighting youth unemployability. Hopefully, the example of SAAM will open the door to further partnerships and cooperation projects in this sector between the two continents.
Don Bosco International
Don Bosco Tech Africa