SECTIONS

Agencies in race to lock out cartels as rollout of RPL programme nears

Stephen Muhoma goes through his Jua Kali work at Bama Market in Nakuru on June 13, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

State agencies are racing against time to seal possible infiltration of cartels in the assessment of skilled Kenyans who lack academic certificates ahead of next month’s national rollout.

This follows fears by heads of technical colleges and other stakeholders that fake academic certificates, low uptake due to an entrenched negative attitude towards technical colleges and costing have not been adequately addressed to facilitate the smooth rollout of the programme.

In a meeting in Mombasa, they called on the State to also ensure of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme is not turned into a money-minting venture for colleges and universities as was the case with parallel degree programmes where students are charged exorbitantly.

RPL seeks to identify, assess and certify skilled Kenyans with expertise in different fields but lack academic certificates to show for it. This will enable skilled workers in the Jua Kali sector to apply for government tenders and jobs.

 Vocational and Technical Training Principal Secretary Dr Margret Mwakima said quality assurance tools will be watertight to ensure only credible certificates are issued.

She said RPL will cure the paradox of shortage of skilled workforce in Kenya despite the existence of undocumented, untapped and unrecognised highly skilled workers.

“A college that will issue fake certificates will lose its accreditation. A tutor behind it will be banned for five years,” said Dr Mwakima, adding the assessment will take up to two weeks.

Heads of 28 TVET institutions, 11 national polytechnics, 15 Technical Training Institutes and Kenya technical trainers met to assess preparedness ahead of the national rollout. 

Mwakima said colleges near the Jua Kali practitioners will be accredited first to enable PRL acceptability in the country and deal with the attitudes of Kenyans towards TVETs.

“The RPL will enable people with skills but lack certificates to transit to the job market. We have also carried out labour market intelligence to establish sectors to prioritise,” said Mwakima.

Unique assessments

All the institutions that have applied to be accredited as centres of excellence will offer different or unique assessments to avoid duplications and encourage specialisation.

“We have established the policy and technical tools and taken time to do capacity building. Next month we will do a national rollout of the RPL,” said Mr Stanley Maindi, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) Director of Technical Services.

Maindi acknowledged that fears of infiltration of cartels to churn out fake RPL certificates was a big concern.

He said that regulatory agencies like Technical Vocation Education and Training Authority (TVETA) and National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) will monitor and evaluate accrediting centres.

Maindi added that RPL has been defined in respective legislation and frameworks and a consultant hired to come up with the cost of the assessment.

“The consultant will do the costing according to the current market rate. Those who were certified during the piloting paid Sh25,000 but this was after ILO subsided the cost,” he said.

He said 25 institutions have applied to be accredited to offer the RPL assessment but the government insisted that each must state the unique courses they will certify.

“Before the end of the week, all the 25 institutions will give a list of skills they will be able to certify. Nyeri National Polytechnic has been accredited to offer RPL,” he said.

Other than Nyeri, National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) has also been allowed to assess and certify those with skills but lack academic certificates.

Mwakima said the national government expects at least 100,000 RPL graduates every year. She said Nyeri has registered 19 qualifications it can assess.

The implementation of RPL is expected to address challenges in most formal and informal businesses where there are millions with skills but lack academic papers.

Job recruitment by the government and the private sector requires a formal certificate.

Mwakima said the RPL will be harmonised in the region and the world to enable certified Kenyans to secure jobs anywhere.

The government hopes that the RPL will cure the mismatch in the job market between academic papers and field experience or practical skills, especially in hands-on jobs.