TVET to constitute 60%
PARADIGM SHIFT :Secondary schools to reduce to 40 per cent
The government has announced plans to increase students pursuing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses to 60 per cent of the total secondary school student population in the country.
“The target is to have 60 per cent of all secondary students under the TVET system by at least 2017,” said the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Mathias Harebamungu. His docket covers the TVET education wing.
In effect, the government plans to gradually scale down the number and student population of secondary schools, with more expected to join TVET institutions upon completion of O’ Level.
The whole idea is to put emphasis on courses that are demand-driven and which increase job-creation opportunities, said the minister.
In 2008, the government established the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to oversee the implementation of the country’s TVET system, which is seen as a vehicle to help empower Rwandans with employableility skills and entrepreneurial capacity.
TVET includes short and medium-term hands-on intensive courses and more sophisticated technical training, with both sections laying more emphasis on practical skills as opposed to theory, which is synonymous with the classic education system.
Currently, TVET schools constitute just 40 percent  of the total number of secondary schools, and are classified in three segments; Vocational Training Colleges (VCTs), Technical Secondary Schools (TSSs); and Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centres (IPRCs); which is an advanced level, equivalent to the classic tertiary institutions.
General schools, on the other hand, amount to 55 percent [4, 120], with 1,380 of them run by the government. The remaining five percent are Teachers Training Centres (TTCs).
Harebamungu said some general education schools will be phased out to make way for new TVET schools, needed to accommodate the growing demand.
“Instead of building more schools for TVET, we will identify schools in each district where general education will be phased out and turn them into technical and professional schools,” he said.
He noted that the plan is to have at least 90 well-equipped TVET schools, across the country, by the year 2017 – at least three in each district. He spoke of plans to turn at least one general education school in every sector into a TVET centre.
“Since we will be having some infrastructure in place, the biggest task will be to furnish the schools with the requisite workshops,” the minister added.
The country’s development agenda seeks to build an economy driven by human capital, while at the same time, making Rwandans more competitive on the job market in the wake tighter competition as a result of the growing regional integration.
Previous studies, including a skills audit conducted about four years ago by the former Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA) – which was since reconstituted into the Public Sector Capacity Building Secretariat (PSCBS) – indicated that Rwanda lacked a critical mass of skilled professionals in many fields.
“The second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy will mainly focus on TVET, now a top priority in the education sector. The biggest part of the budget in the educational sector will be allocated to TVET,” explained Harebamungu.
The minister said that, like it was the case with the 9-year and 12-year basic education classrooms, the government was counting on the population to play a part in the construction of the necessary TVET schools, especially through the monthly community work, Umuganda.
He, however, pointed out that one of the biggest challenges would be getting qualified teachers and instructors for the various TVET disciplines and modules.
“That is normally one of the main challenges, but which we must work hard to address,” He noted.
The minister called on the private sector to take the centre stage in the ensuring paradigm shift, saying the government was willing to support private initiatives.
Jerome Gasana, the Director General WDA, told The New Times that his institution had already started to position itself for the shift, by particularly “sending some teachers for further studies and also bringing in trainers to train our local staff”.
He said that government had put in place incentives such as tax waivers on imported training equipment, capacity building programmes for their staff, and support in architectural design, among others.
He said the curricula were already in place.
“But this doesn’t mean that an investor who wants to invest in general education will be denied. It’s just that right now the priority is on TVET programmes; any investor who wants to invest in education will be advised to put their money into TVET,” Gasana said.
Meanwhile, five more ‘model TVET schools’ or IPRCs, have been or are due to be established, across the country, one in each province and Kigali City.
Currently, only Kigali has a fully fledged model centre (IPRC Kicukiro), while the construction of the Northern TVET school will commence in June and be completed in March next year.
The school, to be constructed on 4.8 hectares, in Barizo village, Musanze District, will accommodate over 1,100 students. It will be funded by the Chinese government at a tune of 80 million Chinese Yuan (approx. Rwf 7.6 billion).
The school will offer training in construction, agriculture and food processing, ICT and electronics.
“In the Eastern and Western provinces, all we can say is that we have already secured the financial support, which we will use to renovate and upgrade ETO Kibuye and ETO Kibungo, respectively”.
Discussions to establish a model school in the Southern Province are also nearing completion. All the model technical schools will be completed by the end of 2013,” stated Gasana.
Contact email: bosco.asiimwe[at]newtimes.co.rw