You are here  » Home   » Education

Relief for learners who skipped KCSE seeking varsity education

By Jeckonia Otieno | Published Sat, August 9th 2014 at 00:00, Updated August 9th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3
Felistas Kavutha (centre) receives her certificate during the graduation. She was accompanied by family members.
 Felistas Kavutha (centre) receives her certificate during the graduation. She was accompanied by family members.

Kitui, Kenya: Did you know you can be admitted to university even if you did not qualify for admission to secondary school? Hilda John, who scored 208 marks in KCPE, plans to take advantage of this to enroll in university later this year.

Hilda is among beneficiaries of a unique Government programme that aims to have people with vocational skills join universities.

Known as Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TIVET), the programme allows students to join universities after undergoing technical training institutions. Hilda, who sat KCPE at Kavingu Primary School in Chyuluni, Kitui County was among the first nine students to graduate with a Level II diploma from St Columba’s Technical Training College, Kitui.

“I plan to join university and pursue a degree in fashion design; at the same time I have plans to start my own design company with the skills that I have learnt here,” she says.

She is hoping to join Kenyatta University’s Machakos University College.

Another beneficiary, Felistas Kavutha, was unable to join secondary school for lack of fees even after attaining 280 marks.

“The sisters here gave me another chance and I am ready to go to university despite having taken this path most people would look down upon,” says Kavutha.

The system, which initially was referred to as Government Trade Test, has been designed to allow more students who do not make the cut to secondary school have a chance to pursue further education after studying and specialising in technical courses.

In the alternative system, all that is needed is proof of primary education after which the student studies for two years and sits a first exam set by the Kenya National Examination Council. The student then registers for Level II examinations. This is the path Hilda and Kavutha chose.

The system is thriving at a time when many middle-level colleges have been converted into university constituent colleges.

More are set to benefit from the programme following Government’s pledge to construct 60 TIVET institutions during this financial year in every constituency.

Speaking during a graduation at the Kenya Teachers Training College on Thursday last week, the Principal Secretary for Higher Education, Science and Technology Collette Suda said the institutions will play a leading role by producing skilled human resource for industrial growth and economic development.



Graduates from TIVET institutions are awarded Certificates and Diplomas in various disciplines. Currently, Technical University of Kenya and Technical University of Mombasa, formerly known as Kenya and Mombasa polytechnics offer degrees in TIVET disciplines.

However, both institutions continue to offer certificate and diploma programmes. Machakos University College, a constituent college of Kenyatta University has also designed programmes to absorb graduates from the TIVET programmes. Hilda has her sights set on this university college to advance her skills in fashion design.

“Employability and ability to be self-reliant after the course is a plus to this mode since as opposed to the formal system where learners have to join other colleges to take other courses that make them viable for the job market,” Mutinda says.

The institutions offering TIVET courses include national polytechnics, technical teachers colleges, institutes of technology, technical training institutes, industrial training centres, youth polytechnics, vocational training centres and other private commercial colleges.

TIVET institutions offer courses in five major areas: engineering, health and applied sciences, business studies, institutional management and information technology (computer science). There are more than 60 other courses offered under the programme.

According to a session paper on education of 2012 there has been a marked increase in the number of TIVET level enrollments between 2006 and 2010. There was a 16 per cent increase in enrollments with 2006 witnessing 71,167 while there were 82,843 in four years later in 2010.


Currently, there are two national polytechnics, namely Eldoret and Kisumu. In addition, there are 25 technical training institutes and 14 institutes of technology as well as 817 youth polytechnics and one TIVET teacher training college. In addition, the registered private TIVET institutions are 706.

Fred Mutinda, an education officer II, says the programme aims to churn out individuals who can work alongside other professionals. “You find the country producing engineers, for example electric engineers, but there are no people to do wiring but once they train in these skills, they get to choose whether to further or not,” says Mr Mutinda.

Mutinda says they emphasise on skill training and specialisation to increase the number of technically-viable citizens for the job market.

Sr Clare Tobin, a longtime educationist in Kenya, who now heads St Columba’s Technical Training College, says the education system has only focused on majorly language and mathematical intelligence at the expense of other forms of intelligence.

“It is sad that with emphasis on success in exams in the formal school system has led to the so-called rejects who the society wants nothing to do with and teachers are left in a situation where they have failed to unlock the intelligence of the learners,” she says.

Other forms of intelligence that Sr Tobin says can be nurtured include practical and spatial intelligence like in the case of athletes and footballers.