HANDS-ON SKILLS

Why online learning is hard to implement in technical colleges

Report recommends massive investment to effectively facilitate hands-on learning.

In Summary

• Technical colleges are set to reopen in September, but are in limbo with out-of-class learning options failing to properly deliver skills to students.

• Closure of TVETs halted the learning and training of 430,000 trainees.

TVET director Meshack Opwora during the commissioning of Sh130 million mechanical engineering equipment at the Kisumu National Polytechnic on May 9, 2018
TVET: TVET director Meshack Opwora during the commissioning of Sh130 million mechanical engineering equipment at the Kisumu National Polytechnic on May 9, 2018
Image: FAITH MATETE

The closure of learning institutions in the country due to Covid-19 has led to the tremendous growth of online learning.

Universities and high-end private schools led the pack in adopting digital learning. However, technical colleges which are set to reopen in September are in limbo with out-of-class learning options failing to properly deliver skills to students.

A report developed by stakeholders in the Technical and Vocational Training sector points out that TVET training focuses on hands-on learning and this is complicating online delivery.

The stakeholders include USAID, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Dutch Embassy.

Others are the Education ministry and the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training.

The report recommends massive investment to effectively facilitate hands-on learning.

Closure of TVETs halted the learning and training of 430,000  students in Kenya, threatening the numerous gains made by the government in improving the institutions.

As TVETs wait for a phased reopening in September, as per the Ministry of Education’s announcement on 7 July, they are expected to do so in strict adherence to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines on the management of Covid-19.

“There will be a need to bolster further funding for the sub-sector in the coming financial year to ensure that resources match the rising student population and the needs identified to facilitate adequate response and recovery measures to the pandemic.”

The guidelines put in place by the government for the reopening of TVETs include the provision of clean running water and soap for washing hands, sanitiser and adequate space for social distancing.

The government will facilitate TVET institutions to produce masks, which will be purchased by learners, trainers and non-teaching staff at subsidised rates.

Institutions will also be expected to have thermal guns to monitor temperatures.

The paper also provides direction and recommendations to support TVETs to respond to the effects of the Covid-19 in the short, medium, and long term.

Navigating these challenges, however, will require well-contemplated strategies, adequate time for preparation and the support of all stakeholders.