A delegation from the SESRIC, comprised of Mr. Mehmet Fatih Serenli, Director of Training and Technical Cooperation Department, and Ms. Sümeyye Erdoğan, Researcher at the same department; visited the Centre of Art and Vocational Training Courses of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (ISMEK), on 27 January 2010. The delegates were welcomed and greeted by Mr. Mehmet Doğan, Director of Training in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Mr. Güven Çalışkan, General Coordinator of ISMEK, and other senior staff at the ISMEK Headquarters.
At the outset, Mr. Serenli expressed his thanks for the Director of Training of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for his warm receiving of the delegation and gave a brief introduction to the SESRIC, wherein he indicated that SESRIC is the main statistical, research and training arm of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). He particularly highlighted the Vocational Education and Training Programme for the OIC Member Countries (OIC-VET). In this regard, he stressed the fact that the Programme has been officially launched by H.E. Abdullah Gül, the President of the Republic of Turkey and the Chairman of the COMCEC during the COMCEC Economic Summit held in Istanbul on 9 November 2009 with the participation of the heads of states and governments. He related that H.E. Abdullah Gül, articulated his belief towards the vision of the OIC-VET Programme to improve the quality of human capital resources and realise socio-economic development in OIC Member Countries, and called upon OIC Member Countries to support and actively participate in the Programme.
As the Executing OIC Organ of the OIC-VET Programme, Mr. Serenli informed the gathering about the actions so far taken by SESRIC since the First Meeting of the Monitoring and Advisory Committee held in Izmir on 13 May 2009. He mentioned that the OIC-VET Portal has been launched for providing the necessary guidance for both national focal points and potential beneficiaries of the Programme. Moreover, a special database called OIC-VET Partners Database has also been developed in the portal with the aim of providing information on potential partners who are able and keen to effectively participate in project implementations within the framework of the OIC-VET Programme. In addition to these preparatory works, SESRIC has already designed a number of pilot projects in consultation with the National focal Points of the Programme to be implemented in our member countries. Mr. Serenli then expressed his desire to establish cooperation between ISMEK and similar institutions in OIC member countries in the area of vocational training, which is also the main purpose of the visit.
On his part, Mr. Doğan, Director of Training of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, pointed out that the vocational education and training has been on the global agenda of many developed and developing countries for decades; and the initiatives on this issue would turn to internationalisation at the OC level, where vocational training centres and institutions would strengthen their training capacity and cooperation in different aspects of vocational training. Mr. Doğan also explained, as a common-public education and training organisation supplementing formal education, that ISMEK is aiming at enhancing Istanbullers’ personal background , improving their vocational skills and competencies, helping them to become an active producer instead of a passive consumer, contributing to their income generation and enhancing their employability.
Mr. Doğan further informed that being initiated in 1996 with 141 attendees in three branches in three course centres, the trainings have outreached, as of 2008-2009, to 230.000 participants in 123 branches in 218 course centres in 38 districts of Istanbul. So far, over 810.000 residents have benefitted from İSMEK trainings, a number which have exceeded many times the students enrolled in various universities. ISMEK has been taken as a model by many domestic and foreign institutions because of the number of course-takers, branch diversity and activity range that has reached to every neighbourhood of Istanbul. Many district governments have opened similar vocational training programs by taking ISMEK’s operating system as a model. Moreover; a number of delegations from Germany, Holland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syria, Morocco, Ethiopia, Dagestan and Kazakhstan have visited ISMEK. He further expressed ISMEK’s willingness and readiness to cooperate with OIC Member Countries in organising common projects and activities, and providing technical assistance to any institutions or organisations operating in member countries when needed.
The SESRIC delegation gave a positive review of the achievements established by ISMEK and declared their satisfaction by their cooperation intention on vocational training projects. During the visit, the two parties conducted a fruitful meeting in which they elaborated on the substantive contents of cooperation projects between both institutions. These projects included the possibilities of sharing and exchanging knowledge and experiences in organizing similar courses in member countries, coordinating study visits by the managers and experts of relevant institutions of member countries, and establishing a strong network of vocational training centres. They also agreed to set up a joint project working group to further discuss operational aspects of different pilot projects to implement in the course of the year 2010.