Nation

Langat: Why technical colleges will soon be all the rage


By DAVID MUCHUNGUH

 How many TVET institutions are there in the country?

The number of national polytechnics registered so far are 11. The number of registered and licensed technical and vocational colleges are 933 (both private and public) while the number of vocational training centres are 1,247 (public and private). We are continuing with registration and licensing and we expect to reach about 2,500 in total.

 The Kenya Economic Survey shows that TVET institutions increased by 26.6 per cent in 2018 and 10.3 per cent last year. How was this achieved?

 This is due to various reforms in the TVET sector driven by the government in recognition of the important role that the sector plays in supplying skilled human resource for the nation.

This includes the establishment of the TVET Authority, which accredits and carries out quality assurance for TVET training and educational institutions, the TVET CDACC which develops curricula and carries out assessment and certification; and the TVET funding board to support resource mobilisation and management for the sector.

In 2014, the government enacted the Kenya National Qualifications Framework Act, which established the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA). The work of the KNQA cuts across the basic, TVET and universities to bring better harmonization of qualifications across the various levels of the education and training.

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The government also endeavoured to build and equip a number of TVET institutions across the country to promote access and equity.

It also started to support TVET students through government funding and creating access to higher education loans. Fees for all TVET students has also be standardized at Sh56,000 per year.

The government has started implementing competence-based education and training (CBET) for the sector; and re-branding is on-going.

Due to these initiatives, there has been some positive change towards TVET by both parents and students. In 2019, about 1,500 students who had been placed to various degree programmes in universities opted to enroll in TVET.

What is the staffing situation in the institutions? How many tutors do we have and what’s the shortfall if any?

There are about 4,000 trainers currently in public TVET training institutions and there is a shortage of a similar number. However, the government has started the process of recruiting another batch of 2,700 trainers to bridge the gap. We are in the process of compiling data for private institutions to ascertain the exact number of qualified TVET trainers in all our institutions.

One of the core mandates of the TVET Authority is to register and license trainers for both public and private training institutions. The registration and licensing of trainers is an open and ongoing process.

We are also supporting trainers in continuous professional development especially in CBET in order to implement TVET reforms effectively.

What is the student population in TVET institutions?

By end of 2018, there were 363,884 students in TVET institutions in the country. This rose to 430,598 in 2019. Female students accounted for 42.8 per cent of the population.

This number is expected to rise as a result of the above mentioned interventions. We are preparing for even larger numbers in the next few years as a result of the hundred per cent transition to secondary schools.

How does the government plan to increase the number of institutions?

The government has committed to build and equip TVET institutions across the country to ensure that every Kenyan who requires TVET training should access it without any challenge. The private sector is also complimenting the government efforts in increasing training opportunities in the country.

The county governments which are mandated to oversee management of vocational training centres have also been concerted in establishing centres in areas where there is need.

Members of parliament are also facilitating the establishment of TVET institutions through the Constituency Development Fund.

When will this be done?

All these are ongoing programmes.

 Is the current funding by the government enough for that to be realised?

Funding will never be enough, especially in a sector like TVET which is currently undergoing several reforms. The current funding from government to the TVET sector especially for infrastructure, equipment and capitation is quite commendable.

We are also working with development partners and private sectors in a number of programmes to support the TVET reforms. The future and sure way of having sustainable funding for TVET is through the private sector as a direct beneficiary of skilled labour.

What is TVETA doing to sensitise the public about the opportunities that abound?

TVETA has rolled out a number of initiatives to re-brand the TVET sector and also sensitise members of the public about the importance of TVET and the myriad of opportunities in the sector. This includes the annual Hands on the Future Kenya Skills Show, which is organised by TVETA together with the Permanent Working Group (PWG) on TVET.

The three-day extravaganza gives attendees an opportunity to touch, taste, see, feel and hear of opportunities in the TVET sector. This year event at KICC attracted a record crowd of over 20,000 people.

The Authority has run successful rebranding and awareness campaigns through the media, outreach programmes and stakeholders’ activities with an aim of changing perception about technical education and training.

The Authority also actively engages the public through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter where we have a growing fan base.

Why the change in focus to a field that had been largely ignored over the years?

Governments all over the world are now realising that technical skills are the next frontiers for economic take-off, employment creation and generally wealth creation.

Every society, evidently, is looking at how to create opportunities that will lead to job creation in the changing labour market. More than 60 per cent of the jobs being created require TVET skills and it is for this reason that technical and vocational education and training is now a valued alternative beyond the core of general education, hence the current re-energized focus on the sector.

What is the absorption rate of TVET graduates into the job market?

The absorption rates have improved immensely in the recent past, especially after the government started to adopt the competency-based curriculum, which is developed and implemented together with the industry.

The rate is high as 80 per cent in the first six months after graduations in some trade areas like health, manufacturing, building and construction sectors.

The government has been working with industry players like the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in adopting innovative and strategic policies that enhance partnership, which is key to address the skills and capacity gaps in industry.

What would you consider the biggest challenge to the TVET expansion dream?

One of the main challenges we face in promoting TVET agenda is negative perception, which is why we have doubled our efforts in rebranding the sector. Remember, this is negative perception without an alternative.

Consider a situation where about 1.5 million children who enrolled for early childhood classes in this country about 14 years ago reduced to 1.4 million two years later when joining Standard One meaning around 100,000 are wasted at this level. The number went down further to about a million by the time of sitting KCPE, meaning another 400,000 had fallen off.

By the time they were sitting KCSE, the number stood at about 600,000 and only 90,000 of them managed to score the minimum university entry grade of C+ and above.

Considering the high numbers of those who are exiting the education system at various levels and where in most cases results in wastage, it calls for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to ensure our children remain relevant and productive at all levels regardless of their status in general education.

If Kenyans can embrace TVET, this wastage would be minimised because one can enroll for a TVET course at any level.

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