Reforms to vocational education to be completed soon

Reforms aimed at streamlining Kenya's technical and vocational education and training, or TVET, could be fully implemented by the end of this year with the creation of a funding board. The government hopes that revitalising the sector will help tackle a huge unemployment problem – there are an estimated five million youths jobless or under-employed.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology hopes to fully actualise the TVET Act of 2013 in November, through the establishment of a TVET Funding Board, which will raise money for post-secondary education in public institutions.

Already set up under the act are a Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority or TVETA – the overall body regulating the sector – and Technical and Vocational Education and Training Curriculum Development, Assessment and Certification Council or CDACC, charged with developing curricula as well as examinations, assessment and competence.

Previously, examinations and curricula were the responsibility of the Kenya National Examinations Council or KNEC, a body that also handles exams for the basic education sector.

The funding board

The TVET Funding Board was to be set up earlier this year, starting with the selection of a chair. But a government-appointed recruiting panel said a suitable person for the job had not been found. The panel has once again advertised for the board chair position.

Chair of the hiring panel, Kimathi Mugambi, said it was “optimistic” that a board chair would be selected this month and his or her name would be forwarded to the education minister, who has final authority over the appointment.

Candidates for the non-executive position must hold a degree in education, engineering, technology or applied sciences from a university recognised in Kenya. They must also hold a masters in business administration, and have at least five years experience in a TVET-related field.

Once in office the chair will ensure speedy hiring of a competent CEO and secretariat staff to begin the board’s main task of fund-raising and disbursing money to more than 1,000 post-secondary education and training institutions around the country.

This will complete implementation of the TVET Act, which seeks to reform and restructure a sector that has suffered a myriad problems including lack of funding, inadequate teachers, lack of equipment and conversion of technical education institutions into public universities.

Tackling unemployment

With more than five million youth unemployed or under-employed, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the government hopes that rejuvenating the technical and vocational education sector will help to tackle joblessness and alleviate a serious shortage of qualified technicians in both the public and private sectors.

Complaints by the private sector particularly over the lack of able technicians, and the continuing need to import segments of labour force for the emerging oil, gas and mining sectors, led the government to rethink neglect of the technical training field, which has been overshadowed by the booming university sector.

The slow pace of setting up institutions and lack of funds have also delayed reforms according to Jacob Kaimenyi, education cabinet secretary.

The slack pace has led to the poor regulation of private colleges offering diplomas and certificates that have sprung up across urban areas, some of which have been accused of training unemployable graduates.