TVET education key to unlocking country’s economic development

Monday, December 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Bunyala Technical and Vocational College in Busia county. State Department for Vocational. Photo/PD/CORTESY

Failure to prioritise Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), stands in the way of boosting Kenya’s productivity and foreign direct investment, which has been stagnant.

The low appetite shown by the private sector is not due to lack of market, facilities and resources, but lack of competent, skilled and quality staff, frustrating investors leading to a major knock-on effect on Kenya’s Big Four agenda and vision 2030.

To unlock this economic growth path, Kenya must resolve to implement a national “fit for purpose” educational system that prioritises value addition to its people through acquisition of right life skills, competence and work ethic as opposed to theoretical training.

According to Principal Secretary for the State Department for Vocational and Technical Training at the Ministry of Education  Kevit Desai, while the government has invested and is focused on revitalising the TVET, support, especially from the private sector, is wanting.

“We are not yet there as a country in terms of what is needed for the radical transformation we need to make towards embracing the alternative approach to build a well equipped, skilled, competent, innovative and creative work force required for a productive economy and the reception from the society is still very cold.

As a country, we are still incompetent even to take care of our people. We must invest in people through empowering them to be skilled, productive, innovative and creative.

Focus must be on the people; the most valued resource in the production chain” said Desai.

He notes that government’s efforts to promote youth training and skills development, although low and yet to excite the nation, is on course as the government allocated Sh16 billion to equip the institutions across the country.

Plans to build a technical college in every constituency and a vocational training centre in every ward for areas that do not have the institutions are in the pipeline.

Last year, the government unveiled 1.4 million enrolment plan in 280 technical and vocational colleges and 1.6 million enrolment in technical vocational centres.

Alternative approach

“We need a re-orientation of our education towards the alternative approach and a mindset change within the society to change and value TVET.

Skills from such trainings are critical in improving healthcare, agricultural production and extension services for Kenyans,” Desai.

Education expert at Tathmini Consulting Jonathan Wesaya says to move ahead and position skilled and innovative youths at the job market, the private sector must be enjoined through a nationwide public education exercise guided a comprehensive public engagement framework.

This must entail retooling tutors and development of teaching and learning materials to be current and relevant to societal needs and problems as a country.

“Technical and vocational education training is very important as it plays into our national desire for increasing post secondary transition, it’s not yet well thought out to fit into the larger national and regional labour market demands,” he adds,

ZiziAfrique Foundation programmes manager Lucy Maina notes that while many studies have established the need for a shift in the educational and training focus, and government is doing something in the direction, a number of challenges exist that must be dealt with.

She cites inequalities in funding, obsolete equipping, failure to adopt new technology, instructor capacity and negative public perception on TVET.

“As a matter of priority, TVET should reorient to target the Big 4 agenda, curriculum development be done together with industry, a review of policy review and implementation, reorganise the structure of TVET operations, TVET be equated to university level and should be a choice like university at the end of form among other reforms,” she said.

Anne Sangole from the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya says the private sector is critical in the success of embracing TVET especially through pushing for policies and interventions they would wish to see achieved in TVET, partnership for skills development through internships, apprenticeship and on job training, offering scholarships and sponsorships to needy students capacity building for instructor and providing up to date equipment to ensure top class.

A recent study by ZiziAfrique Foundation’s Ujana 360 project, revealed that most vocational training centres (VTCs) have outdated equipment while others have no equipment at all for practical learning.

 It also indicates that parents and youths shy away from these institutions due to fear that there is no quality learning in those institutions. There is also need to motivate students to join the institutions.

Students should be guided to take up courses that will equip them with the right skills and land them jobs that will earn them decent income.

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