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Increased Employability in the Global South

December 15


Bringing the competences of graduates of higher education institutions in line with the needs of the regional labor markets: not only in Europe, but also in the Global South, increased employability of graduates is an important driver of social and economic development.

It is precisely in the area of employability that Flemish Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts – with their pronounced focus on practice-oriented competences of students and the cooperation with the regional work field – can make a significant contribution.

How can cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe and the Global South boost the employability of graduates?

Inspiring keynote speeches of experts in the field and, of course, numerous good practices from Flemish Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts and their partners in the Global South, will jointly challenge this question during this online conference.


09:30 – 10:10 – Introduction – Warm Welcome

Pascale De Groote, AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Charlotte Christiaens, Flemish Council of Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts

“Increased Employability in the Global South- a perspective of the Belgian government”
Meryame Kitir , Federal Minister of Development Cooperation, Belgium

Graduate employability and the role of universities”
Akanimo Odon, Africa Strategy Adviser, Lancaster University  & CEO, Envirofly Consulting UK Limite

10:10 – 10:40 – Breakout Sessions – Part 1

1. “Matching Ugandan labor needs in hospitality through professional training courses”

In line with the 5 sustainable development principles (Agenda 2030, UN): “Planet, People, Prosperity, Partnership and Peace” and VIVES’ vision on sustainable intercontinental collaboration, a partnership between MMU and Vives was established in 2017 to help develop a much needed Bachelors curriculum in Tourism and Hospitality Management meant to produce professionals to fill the labour gaps created by the high demand for workers in the recently earmarked Fort Portal tourism city where the university is located. The partnership involves structuring and elaboration of the curriculum through training, exchange of staff and training materials to produce an up to date curriculum, teaching methods and teaching materials.

An Winnepenninckx, VIVES, University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Business Management
Jerry Tog, Mountains of the Moon University, Uganda

2. “Increasing employability through Ecotourism, Education and Training”

The Bachelor programme Nursing in Sint-Niklaas has a long-lasting collaboration with several projects in Benin, Stichting Hubi & Vinciane, GROS Sint Niklaas, EcoBenin. These collaborations and staff and student exchanges resulted in an agreement with the Université de Parakou. Several possibilities were created to increase education in the universities and employability in the field. Through external funding 4 teachers achieved their master’s in nursing and a fully equipped bus has been funded to use in field consultations. In the meantime, other degree programmes such as Biomedical Laboratory Technology and Food and Dietary Sciences are involved in the projects.

Marijke Goedemé & Kathleen Stifkens, Odisee
Speaker of Université de Parakou, Benin

10:40 – 11:10 – Breakout Sessions – Part 2

3. Mountains of the Moon University (Uganda) and HOGENT towards increased employability

Our project aims to provide a proof-of-concept on how to improve science education in Peru by training teachers on developing student’s inquiries about local pollution using biotechnology. We are developing a training course for teachers on how to run student-centered research projects using biosensors for the detection of heavy metal pollution. Besides improving educational practices, we expect to create awareness on pollution, display the potential benefit of biotechnology, inspire and empower teachers. The sustainability of these activities will rely on a network of University researchers committed to collaborate with high-school education, the coordination with the responsible agents of the Peruvian Ministry of Education (MINEDU) for each locality and the possibility to deploy a follow-up Citizen Science program on detecting heavy metal pollution. The main actors of this project are high-school science teachers. We are providing them with new tools of biotechnology and inquiry-based pedagogy. We expect that these new capabilities will improve their position within their institutions. Also, we are engaging the directors of the local management units of the ministry of education, thereby increasing the visibility of the science teachers in the general organization of public education.

Anne-Mie Engelen, HoGent
Local Partner, Uganda

4. “Economic Empowerment through Cultural Inclusion in Stellenbosch”

South African artists from deprived communities encounter many cultural and socio-economic difficulties in becoming accepted artists by the dominant culture. Present Art Worlds show little or no attention nor understanding for culturally diverging artists who consequently have no access to networks of enablers. Moreover, although talent is crucial, other essential attitudes, skills and competencies are required to become an artist in these highly competitive environments. In present project Universities in South Africa and Belgium will jointly develop and implement a methodology for stimulating cultural empowerment of artists from deprived communities to achieve socio-economic independence

Bert Willems & Dirk Kenis, PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Local Partner

14:00 – 14:50 – Plenary Sessions

Closing the knowledge gap between higher education and labour market”
Dirk Van Merode

“Intertwining entrepreneurial skills and empowerment of young women: a collaboration between Belgium and Morocco”
Karijn Bonne, Arteveldehogeschool
Fatima-Zohra Iflahen, Université Cadi Ayyad, Morocco

14:50 – 15:20 – Breakout Sessions – Part 3

5. Young people working in rice cultivation in cooperation with UCLL

In 2006, Colruyt Group started a rice project in the Collines region in the West African country of Benin.  Working together with VECO and other partners, a local cooperative organisation Uniriz-C got empowered in the process. For rice cultivation in the Collines region to become more sustainable, it is necessary to invest in next generations of farmers. To this end, Collibri Foundation started a training programme for young farmers in 2013. Today, the project trains 45 young farmers every year. The close individual follow up during and after the training is what makes this project unique and successful. The University Campus Leuven-Limbug (UCLL), with its expertise in applied sciences, proved to be an ideal partner for this project. They have integrated the project into their bachelor’s specialisation programme International Cooperation North-South. Every year, one or two students do an internship in Benin to further develop and follow up on the training project together with the local partners.

Sofie Van Pelt, UCLL University of Applied Sciences
Bernadin Djossou, Ferme-ecole SAIN, Benin

6. The unique opportunity for Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts to spark innovation aimed at deprived contexts

Digital literacy has an ever-growing impact on the employability of graduates as well as existing employees. It’s hard for billions of world citizens to acquire these skills as they don’t have sustained access to devices, internet, and training. Research shows that digital technologies are increasing inequality in the global South. KUBO is a successful project that has been developed by five students of Howest. It is a carefully designed digital solution for schools in deprived contexts that overcomes the typical barriers. During this session, will be shared why Universities of Applied Sciences have a unique opportunity to spark innovation in contexts where private market incentives are lacking during the session.

Shane Deconinck, Howest lecturer & researcher in Applied Informatics
Suwaibatou Bah, The Swallow School, Gambia

15:20 – 15:50 – Breakout Sessions – Part 4

7. Moonshot Ethiopia: the sky is no longer the limit

Mekelle University (MU) in Ethiopia and Thomas More (TM) launched an honours degree programme for students of all disicplines with a high curiosity index and willing to take up an extra challenge on top of their study. The programme focuses on 5 pillars: ICE powers (innovation, creativity and entrerpreneurship), personal leadership, interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration, value-driven action and creating impact. Students of MU and TM worked together on real life wicked challenges. The framework of SDGs was their guide. The first pioneers graduated with a double-honours degree, a recommendation letter of  management, and a digital ICE Honours badge on their linkedin profile.

Hilde Vandenhoudt, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences
Goitom Tegegn, University of Mekkele, Ethiopia

8. “Inquiry-based science education in metal polluted areas in Peru: training teachers how to teach science by the use of biosensors”

A collaborative international multidisciplinary partnership where social entrepreneurship and biobased-thinking meets the cultivation of communities of practice towards a long-term quality of life.

Mountains of the Moon University in Uganda has a clear mission: to produce outstanding, well rounded, morally upright and innovative graduates with a knowledge base for making positive impacts on the community. HOGENT aims at making a valuable contribution to a critical, creative and open society through the expertise of its staff and graduates and the valorisation of its research. In order to guarantee the long-term employability of students in a changing society, future-proof skills are central to every study programme. MMU and HOGENT complement each other in making positive impact and making valuable contributions to the society.The cooperation between MMU and HOGENT is not aiming for boring uniformity and this shows in the different projects and disciplines we share. Different initiatives serve the employability of the graduates of both partner institutions and, on the long run, a stronger community engagement and quality of life.

In this session staff and students from HOGENT and MMU will explain how the multidisciplinary and multiprofessional focus of the cooperation is stimulating the development of competences which we believe to be essential in the current global society.

Tom Peeters, Erasmus University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Daniel Guerra, UPCH, Peru

15:50 – 16:15 – Plenary – Concluding Remarks

Peter Wollaert, Cifal Flanders

Global Minds Awards Ceremony



December 15


AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts