Let's standardise vocational training

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Kenya dates back to independence. The reforms that led to its inception aimed to make education and training more responsive to all sectors of the economy.

The Ominde report of 1964 emphasised practical subjects and the alignment of education to employment opportunities. Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 on African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya emphasises that economic growth requires ample supplies of skilled, trained and experienced manpower.

Despite the progress made so far in enhancing access, retention, quality, completion rates and gender parity in education and training, the TVET sector continues to face challenges like inadequate TVET centres, limited availability of customised teaching and learning materials.

For the case of quality and relevance, it is important too to note that quality TVET programmes guarantee a strong link between skills learnt and the needs of the labour market, hence producing graduates with superior employability.

Comprehensive TVET reforms are largely attributed to continental and national concerns. In 2005, the government published Sessional Paper no. 1 with the aim of having TVET provide and promote lifelong education and training for self-reliance while in 2007 the Africa Union adopted a policy on TVET framework as part of its Plan for Action for the 2nd Decade of Education (2006-2015).

In order to address these issues, the Government provided policy direction for reforms in education and training through Sessional Paper no. 14 of 2012 (now Sessional Paper no. 2 of 2015) which calls for education and training structured into basic, TVET and University sub-sectors.

The TVET sub-sector focuses on providing skills that meet  workplace needs as well as self-employment, guaranteeing human and economic development. Its outcomes must be human resources fit for the job market. Quality assurance is therefore essential throughout the TVET system and should be integrated into all parts of the qualification system.

Before 2013, the quality assurance function of TVET institutions in Kenya was a function of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology through the Directorate of Technical Accreditation and Quality Assurance and was mostly subjected to the institutions in the ministry.

But owing to the fragmented nature of TVET in Kenya, the quality of training differs greatly from one institution to another, in addition to challenges of poor curriculum design and delivery, leading to instances of training that does not meet the quality and relevance required. In addition, there has been ineffective coordination and synchronisation of the TVET sector.

Therefore, there was need to ensure harmonisation and coordination of programmes, by standardising the quality and relevance of training in all TVET institutions. However, the issue relating to fragmentation of TVET institutions is still a challenge as a number of institutions in other line ministries are yet to comply with the TVET act and Sessional Paper no. 2 of 2015.

Some of them have cited respective acts of parliament establishing them as the reason for not complying, though ideally these acts should have been amended in line with the TVET Act and the Kenya Constitution 2010.

The TVET act gives the Education Cabinet secretary the overall responsibility in the provision of training and policy guidance while TVET has the overall responsibility of coordinating and regulating TVET. The institutions which are yet to comply are still training and giving internal examinations, which are not standardised, therefore resulting in different qualifications by type and level.

The continuous violation of the law by the institutions nagged the whole essence of TVET reforms and by extension the realization of Vision 2030. As TVET, we shall strive to ensure every training provider complies with the provision of TVET act.