Unique training model a boon for youths in northern Kenya

Some of the 1,102 youths who benefited from Ujuzi Manyattani, a programme by Northern Rangelands Trust Trading (NRTT). [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Have you ever thought about offering skills to the hard-to-reach and marginalised groups while preserving their culture?

Northern Rangelands Trust Trading Limited (NRTT) is one such organisation that is doing this through an innovative vocational training delivery model known as Ujuzi Manyattani.

NRTT, which is currently rebranding to MashinaiWORKS, is an organisation that works with 45 community conservancies in 10 northern counties that envision to accelerate the development of sustainable and resilient economic livelihoods across ASAL counties through business and skills development.

Ujuzi Manyattani is an innovative mobile vocational training delivery model that works with youth and women who are mostly illiterate and are based in remote areas to deliver vocational skills that meet community needs at the grassroots without changing their lifestyles. The programme has been in operation since 2019, with over 1,100 youth and women having successfully graduated. 96 per cent of the graduates from this model have embarked on self-employment through setting up their businesses.

Some of the sites that are currently offering training through Ujuzi Manyattani include Kirimon, Doldol, Lekurruki, Ilngwessi, Archer’s Post and Sereolipi in Laikipia and Samburu counties. Ujuzi manyattani entry behaviour is open and leads to giving skill competency training to majority of morans and women who never went to school. TVET Authority staff went on a familiarisation tour on this model between April 15 and 16, 2023 in Laikipia and Samburu counties.

This model has become a game changer, especially to banditry and cattle rustling areas in northern counties due to lack of other opportunities that can provide alternative means of livelihoods. The model involves mobile training where trainers, tools and equipment and training materials are moved from one conservancy to another across the northern counties.

A similar parallel can be drawn from the World Skills competition Kenya Chapter held at Kenya School of TVET in Gigiri Nairobi between August 28 and September 1, 2023 whereby the kit used for welding competition was wheeled in by Morendat Institute of Oil and Gas vide a container customised to international standards. This proved that training in TVET can be mobile, just like other forms of earlier mobile models experienced in Kenya, such as the camel library in Garissa and Wajir and Donkey library in Nyilima, Bondo District, that were fronted by Kenya National Library Services.

Both the Camel and donkey library model operated within a radius of 15-20km, serving respective communities while preserving their various cultures. This model in Kenya was a replica of the Donkey Mobile Library in Zimbabwe. Ujuzi Manyattani has brought hope to many youths in northern counties through a three months technical skills training offered in masonry, tailoring and dressmaking, catering and pastry, mobile repairs, motorcycle repairs, electrical wiring and solar installation, welding and fabrication, hairdressing and beauty therapy, and plumbing. Similarly, in Lamu, youths are skilled using the same model on boat repair, among other competencies.

The training is currently being done through partnership with TVET Authority accredited institutions, namely Kiirua Technical Training Institute and Laikipia North Technical and Vocational College in conjunction with NRTT and respective communities. The Lamu training is spearheaded by Laikipia North TVC in collaboration Lamu TVC. Selection of trainees is carried out by the community elders and courses are selected by trainees based on community needs so that the training solves community challenges with a requirement of a minimum of 10 trainees registered for every course.

Other requirements include a registration and commitment fee of  Sh5,000 to cater for trainees' meals during the three-month training period. This promotes trainees’ welfare and reduces absenteeism. The training completion rate in Ujuzi Manyattani is 99 per cent due to elimination of access barriers. To facilitate the selection of trainees, the community is sensitised on the gender balance during course selection and women are encouraged to take men dominated learning courses like masonry to bridge transgender gaps.

During the training, entrepreneurship and financial literacy modules are included to build capacity on self employment opportunities. At the end of training, vocational clinics are held with the intention of creating awareness and community outreach through free service delivery to community based on the skills acquired. This is a form of informal attachment referred to as “kwenda sokoni” at the community level.

After completion of training, the graduates are supported by NRTT with start-up tool kits, equipment and other forms of funding to start their own SMEs. As this model attempts to provide required skills to the youth in these northern counties, among others, it is not without challenges and they include long distance travel to mobile training centres, language barrier between trainers and trainees resulting in the use of peer trainers who may not be qualified, accreditation of such training centres by TVET Authority, assuring and ensuring quality training through regular quality monitoring, and ensuring provision of certification services through recognition of prior learning.

The challenges not withstanding, this model provides an opportunity for enhancing both access and equity in TVET and thus much more needs to be explored with the aim of upscaling this model to ensure accreditation and quality assurance processes are integrated.