The East African Community Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera, received credentials from the Ambassador and Representative of Switzerland to the EAC, Mr. Arthur Mattli.
Speaking at the function, Amb Mattli said his government is committed to deepening its cooperation with the EAC and urged the regional body collaborate with Switzerland in the area of vocational training which he noted has been his country’s key to economic growth.
“Switzerland’s secret to economic growth is vocational training. We have the smallest country in Europe which is also the least populated and the lowest education per capita in terms of university graduates in Europe. However, we have the highest level of patents and innovations.
This shows that you need not have the highest number of university graduates in order to innovate,” Amb Mattli said.
Amb. Mattli said that vocational training in Switzerland is through public-private partnerships, adding that education must be meaningful to any economy.
“Lessons must be practical so innovations start very early. Investors want skilled people, not just people entering the job market,” he said, adding that for vocation training to be taken seriously, artisans must be given as much respect as highly educated people.
He also noted that the EAC had made significant achievements including promoting regional trade and infrastructure development, adding that Switzerland was keen on providing support to drive the integration process forward. The Swiss envoy said his country was following the integration process closely and urged the EAC to engage the youth in their projects so that they can embrace the idea of regional integration.
In his remarks, Amb. Dr. Sezibera said the youth were a critical target for the EAC and disclosed that the Community had appointed youth ambassadors who were doing an excellent job promoting the integration process.
The SG said the Community’s Education Department was currently working on framework for vocational training in the region which would address issues of training, qualifications and certification.
He, however, expressed concern that most Partner States had moved away from vocational training towards university education which is more academic rather than being practical.
Dr Sezibera urged Switzerland to consider supporting the EAC through the Partnership Fund, a basket fund which he said had enabled the Community to make significant achievements in various sectors.
The Secretary General also called for Swiss support in upcoming negotiations between the EAC and the European Free Trade Area.
Meanwhile, the EAC Secretary General also received credentials from the Turkish Ambassador, Ms Yasemin Eralp, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Present at the function were EAC Deputy Secretaries General, Dr Enos Bukuku (Planning and Infrastructure) and Mr Liberat Mfumukeko ( Finance and Administration), and Mr Peter Kiguta, Director-General (Customs and Trade).