• The political class who are always at the grassroots, should join the government in these awareness campaigns so the youth gain employable skills
• A public education campaign needs to be undertaken to inform parents and members of the community about TVET as a viable post-school option.
There is need for political leaders to support government efforts in carrying out awareness campaigns to promote technical and vocational education and training for youth entrepreneurship and life skills development across the country.
It is a fact that technical and vocational training does not always have the same positive public image as university education in the country.
This has helped to widen the skills gap in many sectors by contributing to lack of skilled graduates.
Although the Ministry of Education is doing its best to change the tide by educating parents and students to change the perception that TVET is only for failures, politicians should do more to address this matter.
Leaders, especially the political class who are always at the grassroots, should join the government in these awareness campaigns so the youth gain employable skills that can earn them a living and support their families.
A public education campaign needs to be undertaken to inform parents and members of the community about TVET as a viable post-school option.
On the other hand, primary and secondary schools should better inform young people about TVET as a post-school option and include entrance into such institutions as an important performance indicator. This can be achieved by organising visits to schools by young people championing the work in TVET fields.
The recent move by the government to have students joining TVET benefit from Higher Education Loans Board has greatly helped increase the number of those joining such institutes.
Reports in the last two financial years indicate that twice the number of students admitted to university have joined TVET institutions, sponsored by the government.
Most of the institutes, especially the so-called ‘village polytechnics’, had been turned into hiding places of criminals and manyattas as students kept off because of high fees and the notion the sector was only for ‘Form 4 failures’.
The low status of TVET education had become a growing problem and Kenyans considered it as a potential for school dropouts, even if it might be more suitable for them than university.
It is because of these reasons, among others, that the government resolved to introduce major reforms aimed at promoting a knowledge-based economy to improve national prosperity and global competitiveness.
In that connection, the government reduced TVET fees from Sh96,000 per year to Sh56,000 where each student benefits from Sh30,000 capitation fee per year and each student will also be eligible for loans of as much as Sh40, 000.
Furthermore, trainers at the TVET institutions now have their own scheme of service that has seen more than 4,000 tutors leave the Teachers Service Commission to the Public Service Commission.
Realisation of Vision 2030 invites the entrenchment of a culture of science, technology and innovation in society, which also entails strengthening the national system for innovation.
This would involve interaction of institutions and processes to enable the generation and conversion of knowledge into goods, processes and services.
The latest developments come in the wake of the government’s recent move to establish TVET Authority to manage technical training institutions as part of the efforts to re-position technical and vocational education in the country.
But the renewed focus on vocational and technical education by the government is one of the best strategies in addressing youth unemployment in the country.
Building quality institutions that would develop the required manpower to enhance the capacity of Kenyan youths to contribute to the expansion of the economy is a move in the right direction.
This goal of equipping Kenyan youths with relevant skills is being pursued through a two-pronged approach.
The first being the fact that all secondary schools across the country must have skills acquisition contents introduced in their curricula.
The second approach is that what used to be called ‘village polytechnics’ will be renamed vocational training centres and that the personnel to work in such institutions must attain proper training at the Technical Training Centre in Nairobi.
But the fact remains that never in the history of this country that Kenyans have witnessed this level of commitment and investment in the technical education sector.
The current shortage of artisans, plumbers and technologists is due to failure by previous governments to prioritise the development of technical education.
However, with more emphasis on technical education, youths are going to get the right type of training that would empower them to become job creators and active players in the economy.
What the government is doing is to re-define education in the country and give the youths the knowledge and skills to effectively compete and face the challenges in the current job market.
Under the present situation, youths only complain of lack of employment opportunities, even though majority of them lack the relevant skills to contribute to national development.
Kenya needs high quality technical workers whose skills develop through effective occupational preparations.
But these outcomes are most likely to be realized when jobs are valued by society.
Education needs to acknowledge and addresses the complexities of the jobs and have goals that help students graduate with the necessary skills.
Untimely, addressing societal views of jobs such as plumbers, electricians, masonry or concreters cannot be realised the education system alone. Public perception needs to change, including those of parents and teachers.
This can be done through informing the public about them, being open about what this work requires of the worker and what they need to know to be competent in them. Government should lead the charge in this effort, and industry should support and sponsor.
As we commend the government for the restructuring in TVETs, including making it affordable for all Kenyans, there is need for leaders to implement a number of measures to further strengthen the sector.
Leaders should, therefore, work together with the national government in improving TVETs infrastructure besides providing bursaries to the needy students to encourage them enrol in such institutions to gain appropriate education experiences to prepare them for the job they choose.
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