Mind welfare of forgotten TVET trainers

Kisumu National Polytechnic TVET

TVET remains one of the much sung-about sub-sector in education—if the oft-repeated policy statements and regular exhortation of the great strides that Kenya is making towards innovation and job creation courtesy of TVET is anything to go by.

Photo credit: File |  Nation Media Group

The Ministry of Education, under Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, has made laudable progress in all sub-sectors of education.

Its achievements include enhanced education access at all levels, successful milestone reforms to roll out Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) and heightened vigilance against cheating in examinations.

However, there is one critical area the ministry has grossly mishandled or neglected: The welfare of about 20,000 trainers in TVET institutions. The trainers include those deployed by the Public Service Commission (PSC), who are the minority, and those hired directly by the institutions.

The latter are the ones who run the centres. Without these trainers, learning would come to a halt. For every PSC trainer, there are four to five contract trainers.

TVET remains one of the much sung-about sub-sector in education—if the oft-repeated policy statements and regular exhortation of the great strides that Kenya is making towards innovation and job creation courtesy of TVET is anything to go by.

Pathetic working conditions

However, those official epithets tend to overshadow the pathetic working conditions and dismal remuneration of the trainers. Unless the matter is addressed soon, quality of training and, by extension, that of the TVET graduates stands to suffer terribly.

A little background is in order.

In 2018, the government changed the employer for all teachers deployed by TSC in technical institutions by transferring them to PSC. This affected some 3,800 teachers in polytechnics, technical institutes and TVETs.

That number, ministry officials said, was a far cry from the optimal 11,000 for 120,000 students at the time. The government pledged regular recruitment, which has seen an additional 3,000 trainers recruited by the PSC in three cycles since 2018.

The less than 8,000 PSC trainers are still too few for the three categories of TVETs, which have grown by 400 per cent; official figures put the enrollment at 450,000 students. The number of centres has also increased multifold to about 240 nationally.

But it is the recruitment and welfare of that cadre of trainers, numbering over 15,000, that is a matter of serious concern.

Motivate trainers

The trainers should not only be acquainted with CBC but also motivated enough to help in realising its objectives at that level. Secondly, the trainers, whom many institutions hire on word of mouth and fire them the same way, earn a paltry Sh12,000-30,000 without fringe benefits.

Save for a few, most of the TVETs conduct shambolic recruitment amid cronyism, tribalism and outright corruption. The PSC recruitment in 2019 was reportedly marred by irregularities that occasioned a probe by Parliament’s Committee on Education, prompting the parent ministry to demand a report from the heads of institutions where glaring irregularities were noted.


Miano Kihu, Mombasa

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.