By Dr. Kipkirui Langat

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions across the country have put in place sufficient infrastructure and human resource to absorb the over 600,000 candidates who sat the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, which was released last week.

In the recent past, the government has carried out an enormous infrastructural overhaul and expansion of facilities in all the public TVET institutions, especially in the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic, when learning institutions were forced to adhere to strict compliance protocols set by the Ministry of Health. At the same time, the government has equipped most of the institutions with state-of-the-art equipment to compliment the new Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) curriculum.

Equally, the Ministry of Education has also recruited to over 3,000 TVET trainers in the past two years and posted them to various TVET institutions across the country.

Progressively, and in line with the current government TVET agenda, there has been a rapid increase in the number TVET institutions. TVET Authority has so far registered and accredited over 2,000 public and private TVET training institutions. These includes the over 40 TVET institutions in line ministries, the hundreds of Vocational Training Centres under County governments, Teacher Training Colleges, the Kenya Medical Training Colleges and others.

The Training Institutions (TTIs) under the Ministry of Education in each constituency, has grown from 52 in 2013 to 233 in 2021. Out of the 233 TTI’s: 52 are fully operational; 140 have been built, equipped, staffed and operationalised (four of 13 them catering for TVET SNE candidates) and 41 are under construction.

When the Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof. George Magoha released the KCSE results on Monday, we received the announcement with a lot of hope and expectation that the candidates and parents will take advantage of the many available opportunities in the TVET training ecosystem and apply for admission to pursue the hundreds of courses so as to have a head-start in the world of employment and entrepreneurship.

TVET Authority (TVETA) as the regulator of TVET we will be working closely with the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services (KUCCPS) to ensure that all the students who are legible to access TVET training opportunities are able to choose programmes where they meet requirements so that they can be placed accordingly. This is in line with the government policy of 100% transition in all learning levels so that no one is left behind no matter their social standing in society.

We will also partner with KUCCPS to ensure that the students are placed in programmes and institutions that we have duly accredited according to the TVET Act 2013. We will also ensure that the institutions where the students are admitted have accredited trainers and that the admissions to courses are within the limits allowed by TVETA-based on our inspection reports.

In the just released 2020 KCSE results, a total of 747,161 candidates sat the exam. Out of this, number of candidates with minimum university entry qualification of Grade C+ and above rose to 143,140 (19.03%) in the year 2020 KCSE examination compared to 125,746 (18.02%) in 2019. This means, that the remaining over 600,000 candidates are legible to join TVET training institutions.

However, as it has happened in the previous college placement exercises by KUCCPS, a good number of the candidates who attained the minimum university entry quota will opt to apply for placement in the TVET and KMTC colleges to pursue diploma courses.

For instance, KUCCPS placed in TVET institutions 2,632 candidates who sat the 2019 KCSE exam and attained the minimum university admission Grade of C+.  This was a great leap from 2018 candidates when 1,269 candidates opted to join TVET courses despite qualifying for university programs.

The placement agency also placed all the 88,724 students who made their applications to pursue different TVET programmes in 2020. Out of this, 53,726 will be admitted to diploma programmes; 29,112 to craft certificate and 5,886 to artisan certificate courses.

However, despite the marginal increase in the number of applications, these numbers are still way below the number of declared 276,163 capacities for diploma, craft and artisan certificates in Technical and Vocational Training (TVC) training colleges last year. This is also coupled to additional others vacancies in private TVET colleges spread across the county.

The most important thing that parents, and their children need to know is that the government has made TVET programmes very attractive and market driven by working with the industry players to come up with a blueprint that addresses market needs.  This new curriculum is aimed at producing an internationally competitive workforce and promote a culture of entrepreneurship, incubations and innovations.

CBET curriculum is a flexible system which will enable all sectors of the population to access training without barriers. The curriculum is envisaged to benefit among others the out of school youth, the unemployed population, those currently educated and trained who need to update their competences, individuals from the formal and informal sector, those with little or no education, individuals who are made redundant so that they can learn new competences and those who have retired but who would like to develop new skills and competences.

The Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) has already developed a coherent framework for qualification from Primary schooling up to doctorate degree level. The framework links together all qualifications in a highly visible, quality assured national system of educational recognition, which promotes lifelong learning and a seamless and diverse education and training system.

The structure, which also recognizes prior learning, has now made it possible for one to qualify for university education through the TVET pathway without necessary attaining the minimum university entry grade of C+. The framework allows for an interface with basic education and provides a progression for technical and vocational education qualified personnel to proceed to higher education.

It is our expectation that the number of students who will embrace TVET will triple this year when KUCCPS opens its system to applications because the government has instituted a number of reforms that the placed TVET training as a competitive and marketable pathway for learners.

Equally, as the regulator and coordinator of the TVET sector, we have done a lot, together with other players in the sector to change the hitherto negative image of TVET as a platform for only those who have failed in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and KCSE exams to an embodiment of success and career progression.

Already the government has provided capitation of Sh30,000 per student placed in a TVET course by KUCCPS. There is a further loan of Sh26,420 that can be raised by applying to Higher Education Loans Board. Some students can also apply for a bursary provided by the Ministry of Education and other programmes like National Government Constituency Development Fund. Essentially, TVET students have a ready financial outlay to pursue any programme of choice that is more than enough to cover the annual fees capped at Sh56,420 per academic year and other miscellaneous expenses.

My call is to students and parents to take this available opportunity and enlist in any course of interest in our TVET institutions and start their journey to an enjoyable and rewarding careers and limitless academic opportunities.

The author is the Director General/ CEO, TVET Authority (TVETA)