TVET institutes to start offering examinations

Kenya Coast National Polytechnic

Some of the 1,811 graduands at Kenya Coast National Polytechnic on March 2, 2023. The institutions is in the process of being certified to develop curriculum and offer examinations.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions are to de-link themselves from national examination bodies, a shift expected to cement their position in providing skills.

The institutes will also work with industry players in developing curriculums and administering practical tests to match the skills needed.

TVET Principal Secretary, Esther Muoria, said national polytechnics would be accredited to train, assess and award certificates.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) will award the Qualification Awarding Institution (QAI) certification to the polytechnics. This is equivalent to a university charter.

“This means we will award certificates to people who have gone through practical training and assessment,” Dr Muoria said, adding that graduates will have adequate practical skills.

The PS made the announcement at Meru National Polytechnic, which became the first technical institute in the country to be accredited by the KNQA to develop curriculum, offer tests and award certificates.

KNQA Acting CEO, Alice Kande, said the process of accreditation was rigorous.

Practical skills

“The qualification is globally competitive, meaning those who graduate can get jobs in any part of the world,” Dr Kande said.

Concerns have been raised that though TVET institutions are expected to impart practical skills to learners, there is a disconnect between courses offered and market demands.

Industry players have criticised the nature of technical tests offered by the Kenya National Examinations Council, saying they are too academic and lack enough practicals.

Dr Muoria said others in the process of being certified are Kisii, Kenya Coast National and Nyeri National Polytechnics.

“They will be regional centres of excellence and give guidance on the courses to be undertaken,” she added.

Meru Polytechnic Chief Principal,  Mutembei Kigige, said the institution has developed Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET) programmes to address concerns over mismatch between training and industry needs.

“CBET is an internationally recognised method that delivers technical education focusing on specific industry needs. Trainees have an advantage because industry players are involved,” Mr Kigige said.

He added that his team has developed syllabuses for several courses, including Gypsum Installation Artisan Level 4, Water Treatment and Recycling Technology Level 6, Concrete Reinforcement Technology Level 4 and Balustrade Technology Artisan Level 4.

Three more – Tile Laying Level 3, Scaffolding Level 3 and Formwork Level 3 – have been developed and are awaiting the nod from the Technical and Vocational Education Training Authority (Tiveta).

Meru National Polytechnic is also developing curriculum for 10 courses, including Dairy Farm Manager Level 4 and Air Conditioning Level 4.

“Practical training in these courses will solve real-life problems by offering skill-based, hands-on training, in accordance to occupational standards,” Mr Kigige said.

Budgetary allocation

The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms says a rise in TVET enrolment has not been matched with increased budgetary allocation.

“TVET institutions have not attracted and retained highly skilled manpower due to lack of competitive remuneration packages. There is minimal capacity building for trainers,” reads the task force interim report.

It adds that while resources in TVET are not adequate, there is limited collaboration between the private sector and the institutions.

Mr Patrick Mwangi, a director at Best Kenya College in Meru, says employers demand well-trained personnel.

“We get surprised on hearing people saying there are no jobs in Kenya. The truth is that young people don’t have the necessary skills,” he said.

“We ensure academics occupy 30 per cent of learning while practical and in-job training takes 70 per cent.”