Redefining education: Kenya's path to recognise skilled workers

Kenya National Qualifications CEO, Alice Kande when she addressed the media at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County. [Erastus Mulwa, Standard]

A plan is in the offing to reshape the future for mechanics, technicians, plumbers, tailors and other workers who have acquired skills through hard work and experience but lack formal education.

The government is about to embark on a transformative journey that recognizes the worth of these unsung heroes by mainstreaming their prior learning experiences.

Education experts, government officials and key stakeholders will from Wednesday gather in Naivasha for a three-day validation exercise to review the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy framework, in Naivasha.

The exercise will be presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu.

The initiative is part of a larger effort to align educational policies with Kenya's new National Economic Agenda, known as the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

The RPL policy framework seeks to bridge the gap between education qualification and hard-earned skills; it seeks to promote inclusivity within the workforce.

The Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER) released a report in August, recommending the implementation of the RPL policy, alongside the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Systems (CATS), in Kenya.

This move aims to create more awareness about RPL and CATS, ensuring formal recognition of those with skills but lack formal training.

This will include Juakali artisans, mechanics, technicians, plumbers, and tailors who possess remarkable skills acquired through their work experiences. Yet, their skills often go undocumented, unappreciated, and neglected.

"We recommend the development of a framework for linkages among Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to remove duplications and create centers of excellence based on niche," reads the report.

President William Ruto has already directed the immediate implementation of these recommendations.

The heart of the matter is that RPL will provide a much-needed framework for recognizing skills through the award of certificates based on competence.

This recognition will empower individuals to participate in various economic opportunities and level the playing field.

RPL is not a novel concept; it has been widely adopted internationally as a means of lifelong learning.

It grants access to higher education, awards credit toward qualifications, and facilitates admissions into formal educational institutions.

It also allows for advanced standing, credit accumulation and transfer, and recognition of experiential learning.

Moreover, RPL caters to the upgrading of skills and qualifications, meeting regulatory requirements in sectors that require qualified personnel.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) plays a pivotal role in this initiative, mandated by the KNQF Act Section 8(1)(k) to promote lifelong learning and recognize skills acquired through various methods, including formal, non-formal, and informal channels.

Dr. Alice Kande, acting Director General of KNQA, emphasized the importance of aligning the policy with global and national agendas.

"We understood that our policies should not exist in isolation but should seamlessly integrate with the broader vision of our government," she stated.

Dr Kandfe further said: "This revised framework is not merely a document; it is a promise-a promise to our citizens that their skills and experiences matter, and that education is a lifelong journey that respects their unique pathways."

In essence, Kenya's commitment to excellence in education and its dedication to enhancing the nation's human capital are at the forefront of this groundbreaking policy.

As the nation opens its arms to the winds of change and innovation, every citizen is poised to thrive in an environment that values their skills and experiences.

This initiative promises to reshape Kenya's educational landscape, foster inclusivity, and empower its people to reach new heights in their careers and personal development.