Government promotes TVET sector as ‘preferable’ option

Kenya has kicked off a series of reforms to drive up the growth of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, to hit an enrolment target of 3.1 million over the next five years. This will place the institutions under a new tighter regulatory regime to boost the quality of learning and increase access to post-school education.

“We want to make TVET the preferable and rewarding choice for Kenyans and revitalise the competences of our national workforce to build a competitive economy,” said Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

According to Mohamed the government intends to adopt a National Credit Accumulation and Transfer System that will facilitate movement of students across various certification levels, including TVET colleges and universities. It will harmonise admission requirements, duration of study and learning descriptors of programmes at certificate, diploma and university levels.

“This will institutionalise a common process for evaluation and issuance of qualifications in Kenya. We want to put in place a coherent, credible and well-coordinated 21st century framework that will bring down the iron curtains we currently have at different levels of our education system,” she said.

“The aim is to eliminate devaluation of credits and certifications based on fragmentation and uncontrolled systems which cause a disconnect between qualifications and the demands of the market. Unregulated systems are increasing the prevalence of fraudulent and fake certification and clouding the capacity to collect complete and cohesive evidence on the country’s skills landscape. Such systems are also exposing us to doubt by our international partners,” said Mohamed.

As part of the reforms, the government announced it has further reduced the annual cost of technical training from US$920 to US$564 per student. Under this arrangement, the National Treasury will provide capitation worth US$300 per trainee per annum, while the Higher Education Loans Board will supplement training costs to a maximum of US$400 per trainee, annually.

For this financial year which started last month, the National Treasury has allocated US$160 million for technical institutions. The funding, which is over 30% higher than the past year, is expected to aid the recruitment of an additional 2,000 technical training instructors and capitation grants for students.

The government has kicked off talks with the private sector to provide internship and employment opportunities to trainees through a structured mechanism for micro, small and medium enterprises.

“Emerging needs are forcing a rewrite of the compact code between corporation, citizen and government. We are exploring ways of machine-sharing between the informal sector and our national polytechnics,” said Mohamed.

The government has said it will give tax rebates to companies that take on interns in a bid to drive up linkages between technical institutions and the private sector.

It has also promised the implementation of a labour-market-responsive competency-based education and training curriculum, and well-resourced and trained faculty.

It is envisaged the measures will help to grow 10-fold the enrolment in TVET institutions currently at 330,180 students. Kenya has established 203 TVET centres and provided for an additional 15 this financial year, with a target of having a TVET centre in each of the 290 constituencies by 2020.

Kenya has been running a series of TVET reforms since 2013 starting with the establishment of the TVET Authority, a regulator; the TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council; the TVET Funding Board; and the Kenya National Qualifications Authority in 2014. This was reinforced by the creation of the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training in 2015, and the State Department of Post Training and Skills Development in 2018.