Fit for purpose TVETS best bet for Kenya’s push to industrialise

The TVET sector is critical in attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure inclusive, and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. It is focusing on the 4th SDG, on quality education, and the 8th, on good jobs and economic growth. In Kenya, the sector is responsible for the production of adequate manpower necessary for attainment of the vision 2030 and the Big 4 agenda.

Due to the potential of TVET in contributing to socioeconomic development, many countries in the world are embarking on reforms to establish TVET systems that are fit for purpose.

Many challenges

Unlike the other sub sectors of education, the Kenyan TVET operates in a unique and challenging environment characterised by complex governance structures, legal regimes, and varied stakeholder interests. Currently, TVET is being implemented through 116 institutions in the Ministry of Education, 43 institutions in other line ministries, over 800 vocational training centres managed by County Governments, and over 700 private institutions countrywide.

Others associated stakeholders include professional bodies, industry, and universities. Within these institutions, TVET programmes are being implemented through formal, non-formal or informal modes of training within the framework of lifelong learning.

Most of the institutions established are centres of excellence in their respective sectors and are either established through a legal order, or statue law which gives them some level of autonomy in governance, curriculum development, delivery, assessment and certifications.

Likewise, National Polytechnics are corporate bodies, autonomous in the execution of their mandate subject to meeting requirements of their respective regulatory bodies. Section 5 (f) of the Kenya National Qualifications Framework (KNQF) regulations 2018 provide for multiple awarding bodies of TVET qualifications subject to meeting requirement of respective regulators.

The level of autonomy given to some of the institutions provides them with unique opportunity to apply creativity and innovation in developing training programmes that respond to socioeconomic development needs. It was in this complex TVET landscapes that TVET Authority was created, and given the mandate of regulating and coordinating the sector.

Quality in complex systems like TVET stems from the way in which the product/service takes shape as it moves through this system. Quality assurance, as the main function of TVETA, puts in place processes and procedures to ensure that qualifications, assessment and programme delivery meet set criteria and standards as per sections 7 (h), (o), 31 and 57 of the TVET Act. It comprises of the processes of ensuring that specified standards and requirements for TVET provision, learning, TVET management, accreditation, assessment and the recording of achievements are met.

Programme development, approval, delivery, assessment and certifications, is another element of equal complexity because of the number of players and processes involved.

For example, while Curriculum Development and Certification Council (CDACC) is currying out curriculum, development, assessment and certifications for Technical and Vocational Colleges (TVCs) and Vocational Training Centres. National Polytechnics and other institutions established including Universities, are developing their own curricula and awarding qualifications.

This is the same to a number of professional bodies established by law. The function of the National Quality Assurance Framework therefore, is to ensure that all these multiple curriculum developers and qualifications awarding institutions work towards meeting the requirements of national qualifications for TVET as provided for in the Kenya National Qualifications Framework.

Certain qualifications go beyond national qualifications to designations which require international certifications. For example, in sectors like health, aviation, or maritime among others, TVETA is working with other sector regulators like Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Maritime Authority to ensure that training in these sectors fully complies with the requirements. Final quality assurance encourage institutions to participate in research, innovation, entrepreneurship and greening of TVET alongside community engagement.

This ensures that TVET institutions go beyond training and translate the knowledge and skills learnt into immediate products and services in a sustainable manner that benefits the immediate communities.

To ensure that TVET reforms are realised, TVETA has developed operationalisation for implementation of TVET quality assurance in the country.

Mr Langat is the Director General/CEO - TVET Authority, a Professional Engineering Technologist and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering Technology of Kenya