Professor Jacob Kaimenyi is right on University directive and should always stick to standards

In reference to opinion raised by Mr. Collins Akongo on the Education Newspaper volume 141 of December 5-17 regarding education cabinet secretary proposal that universities should stop training students at diploma and certificate levels, I also request to contribute.

Actually the opinion of the cabinet secretary is not bad at all. Simply because education and training has various levels which also match with specialization. For example when one says primary school education reference is made to education meant to learners aged 6 to 14.

 This category of learners has various characteristics whose teachers in this level are well trained in and are capable of handling. Each learner who has pursued this level of education has specific outcomes expected to be met in the ordinary world of work. Such as filling any form requiring name and ID number freely and even filling both deposit and withdrawal banking forms.

It is also known worldwide what level of learning or training can produce a specific competent person to perform specific tasks. A university is known as an educational institution designed for instruction, examination, or both, of students in many branches of advanced learning, conferring degrees in various faculties, and often embodying colleges and similar institutions.

 It has to offer higher learning with teaching and research knowledge and tactics to its students and award them doctorate, masters and undergraduate degrees. This has to match with the global standards of universities.

Equally there are other levels below degree that you well know such as higher diploma, diploma, advanced certificate, certificates at Craft and Artisan levels, which require different general education levels and adjacent training requirements for admission to pursue them. Example is Artisan certificate training which requires KCPE academic qualifications or KCSE D- (minus). The education experts of Kenya have developed these entry requirement based on performance and capability of this learners when joining these levels.

The end products are also known what they can offer in terms of their job production in various establishments. There is also the minimum duration time required for regular attendance which is referred to as contact training or lecture hour in each level. There are minimum specific common content that should be covered during their training.

The reason why I have decided to support the cabinet secretary is that there have been serious cases on the rise in regard to the certificate content offered by specific institutions in comparison with the standard certificates offered by accredited middle-level colleges. For example a trainee is admitted to a university to pursue ICT certificate whose entry qualification is D (plain) and the course takes one year equivalent to 1280 hours.

This trainee is admitted back to the same university to pursue diploma in the same course taking two years which is equivalent to 2560 hours. Ordinarily the certificate course offered by an accredited middle-level college takes two years whose total instructional contact hours is 1980 while diploma in the same institution takes three year whose total instructional contact hours is 2970. A question sir! Can you convince one that the same trainees if they are employed in the same establishment can offer the same service? The other case is where a university admits a trainee to pursue a certificate in business management for just only one semester which is equivalent to 640 contact lecture hour whose entry requirement is KCSE D+ (plus).

 The same course takes 1980 hours in a middle level college. The same university admits a trainee to diploma of the same course with KCSE C-(minus) or the same certificate course offered by them or the accredited KNEC certificate of the same course for three semesters which is equivalent to 1920 hours. Can you convince one that the same diploma course which takes 2970 hours can be offered to the same category of trainees in 1920 hours? Can both trainees perform same tasks in the same establishment?

Worst is a situation where a university offers training to a KCSE D- (minus) certificate holder to train a certificate in a given course. To be frank this trainee academically will have same challenges like those of a KCPE holder with 220 marks from my personal experience. Does this training become advanced or higher?

To criticize the professor cabinet secretary Hon. Jacob Kaimenyi over this directive is to encourage incomparable standards of qualifications to be issued by institutions which will affect the labour market negatively.

 For me I will request the cabinet secretary to direct all levels of training institutions to offer services as per their accredited capacity. That is, if it is a youth polytechnic let it offer from government grade test through Artisan certificate to craft certificate and they be equipped with competent staff, equipments and infrastructure so that they can provide direct access to the majority of young Kenyans training opportunities. Then technical institutes offer from craft certificate to higher diploma as stipulated in the TVET act 2013.

Universities should concentrate with their mandate of higher learning and training together with research and innovation. I also request the cabinet secretary to define the academic and training qualifications such as Artisan certificate, craft certificate, diploma and higher diploma in the national qualifications framework Bill. What the qualification is all about, the minimum contact hour should be attended by a trainee, common characteristic subjects that should be covered and any criteria of credit transfer from the lower certificate levels to be offered.

 This will save the trainees of duplication of content covered in training. Accredit all youth polytechnics providing (or intending to provide) access to training to certificate level and upgrade them to vocational colleges. Continue to provide direct admission of primary school leavers (KCPE holders) to vocational colleges and youth polytechnics offering Artisan certificate and NVCET training at the same time admission of form one is done. Increase the ratio of vocational colleges to primary schools to be 1:7.

Thank you Hon. Minister and your principal secretaries for your seriousness. May God bless you! I wish you merry Christmas and prosperous New Year 2015.

Mogaka Nyambukora is a masonry instructor in youth training directorate (youth polytechnics) [email protected]