Thousands of female students who enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions shunned engineering programmes, a new survey on TVET training shows.
The 2019 survey, “Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Understanding the Landscape”, was conducted in 30 vocational training centres across 12 counties.
It found that of the 3,183 students that were enrolled in different TVET courses, some 1,922 (60 per cent) were male students while 1,026 were female.
But the gender disparity was also manifested in a selection of courses, says the report.
“The imbalance in gender was clear, in the general enrolment and the choice of courses,” reads the report by Ujana 360 Project.
Three courses that have been perceived as male oriented did not receive a single enrolment of female students in all the institutions surveyed. They include building technology, metal processing and carpentry. On the other hand, fashion and design and hairdressing were predominantly female courses.
Building technology had the highest number of enrolment in all the 30 TVET institutions where all the 222 students enrolled in the course were male. It was followed by ICT at 221 and motor vehicle technology at 187 students.
The government has for years stepped up efforts to increase the number of female students enrolling for engineering courses.
The Female Engineering Sponsorship Programme is run by the National Industrial Training Authority (Nita) to support women in engineering fields. Only 270 girls who are given full scholarships have gone through the programme in various technical institutions since inception 12 years ago.
Nita Apprenticeships and Indentured Leadership Coordinator Gipson Ndwiga, in a past interview, said stereotypes have for ages locked female students out of technical fields.
“The challenges affecting female enrolment in technical fields are mostly stereotypical. Women have always believed that engineering fields are for men” he said.
Courses with the least number of students in the survey included metal processing technology that had an enrolment of only 24 as well as carpentry and joinery with only 73.
Out of 179 students who enrolled for fashion and design and garment making, 176 were female while only three were male. Male students also shunned hairdressing and beauty therapy as well as catering and housekeeping.
The survey laid bare the deplorable conditions of TVET institutions. Training centres were found to lack basic infrastructure and modern training equipment while students battled low esteem.
The survey also found that TVET institutions admitted Class Eight leavers as well as Form Four leavers across different programmes.
“The language of instruction was an issue as many school dropouts could not comfortably communicate in English, while those who had completed secondary school preferred English,” the report reads.
“Most of the institutions use outdated technologies or no equipment at all for practical training.”
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