One of the Kenya’s vision 2030 pillar is to be industrialized by the year 2030. Kenya dreams to achieve this through rapid industrialization. This however cannot be achieved without the required capacity in terms of human resource. Kenya needs skilled artisans, tradesmen, technicians and technologists for this industries.
Kenya through the Ministry of Education has put in a lot of resources in building Technical Training Institutes and expanding infrastructure and equipping this institutions with tools and equipment. This is a great and positive milestone in achieving one of this pillars.
But this is not enough, in fact I would say this is just an enabler in the dream in producing the said manpower. The problem is not in the capacity to absorb graduates or acquiring tools equipment, but rather in the core curriculum and trainers in TVET institutions.
TVET institutions and the new ones the government has built and still building can churn out “Technical Graduates” very easily. The question to ask is, do this graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to drive the industrialization agenda Kenya aspires for? The answer is absolutely no. The current evaluation criteria does not test a trainee technical abilities but rather academic ability, we are training theoretical technicians who do not have the market required skills and hands-on competencies needed for an industrializing nation.
The problem lies in our curriculum, method of training and evaluation paradigm. The way the current modular approach to technical training doesn’t allow for theoretical training and practical training in such a short period time. Our exams at diploma and certificate levels doesn’t test practical competencies, the modular programme doesn’t test project based assessment anymore.
Our TVET training is increasingly becoming a conveyor belt of churning out graduates who doesn’t have practical skills needed in the industry. I won’t even mention innovators, for our country to truly develop and industrialize we need to produce and train Innovators, we need to be able to encourage our trainees to create new things, we need to be able to have our trainees learn by doing and then evaluate them according to their level of innovativeness, creativity, and ease in creating things.
This mantra of making our trainees do only a written exam and certify them as technicians is a falasy and it’s where our TVET training is failing.
What needs to happen is a radical change in our curriculum one that leans towards competency evaluation rather that theoretical evaluation. We need our trainees to have more time doing things and creating new things in the process (more time in the workshops and industry).
This also will depend on the quality and competencies of facilitators (Trainers) who can make this happen, the foremost falasy in most TVET institutions are the calibre of trainers we have, we expect our trainers to produce a competent qualified trainee whereas the trainer himself/herself is barely competent, its only in Kenya where a diploma graduate who has just a little bit of pedagogy is expected to teach a diploma student and produce a competent trainee. It’s a big contradiction.
I want to applaud the government for initiating the upskilling programme in conjunction with AFDB, at least our trainers can get higher qualifications and hopingly competencies, but I think this should be mandatory if the investments the government is making to produce competent man power is to be realistically achieved. There are so many incompetent trainers in our institutions that is the brutal truth no one wants to talk about, we have equally incompetent lab technicians who are supposed to conduct practicals for our trainees. This is the inconvenient truth, we must correct and rectify this in tandem to expanding the infrastructure, tools, equipment and updating the curriculum.
I am confident and convinced that expanding the capacity of technical institutes, equipping our technical institutes, upskilling our trainers, adopting better methods of learning and teaching and levering in technology in instruction can we only achieve this pillar.
It’s is not a hard or impossible task, we only need good and brave drastic changes to the curriculum, heavy investments in capacity building, investments in Technology and we will be there.
The following are some of my recommendations to make TVET Training in Kenya better, and to enhance actual acquisition of skills by our trainees
- TVET institutions to have practical manuals embedded in the syllabus developed by KICD or any other competent body in conjunction with the industry and relevant professional bodies( TVETA ,engineers board of Kenya e.t.c
- KNEC should fire all their current Technical Examiners (This folks are a letdown). KNEC need to put in place a competency based evaluation in addition to written Tests (Competency based to carry more weight). Infact a new examination body for TVET should be established.
- Mandatory yearly evaluated trade projects for trainees.
- Mandatory internship or attachments for trainees.
- Complete overhauling of the TVET curriculum, rewritten from input from all stakeholders- trainers, industry, professional bodies.
- Leveraging on ICT in teaching and learning especially installation of fiber optic or broadband internet connectivity.
- Capacity building and training of lecturers and trainers to leverage on technology in delivering content to students
- Expansion of workshops and acquisition of enough tools and equipment
- Expanding of library services in Institutions including use of electronic books, Open learning resources and development of institutional eBooks repositories.
- Promoting institutional based innovative projects for learning purposes and as production units.
- Improving remuneration and terms of services for trainers and lab technicians in TVET Institutions.
- Empowering TVETA to effectively do its job of developing competency based curriculum, accrediting Institutions and trainers.
- Developing of relevant courses and curricula that is reflective of the industry skills needs.
- Development by institutions of online courses to enable a flexible and blended learning geared towards lifelong learning opportunities for everyone at all levels.