Dressed in a green dungaree and gloves, 23 year-old Yves Lambert Kwizera is following his teacher’s instructions of how to operate various machinery. But this hardworking and focused youth is just recovering from a dark past tainted with addiction to drugs.
“I was taken to Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre in 2013 owing to being drug addict, and today, I am glad I am making up for the time I wasted on consuming drugs, thanks to technical and vocational education and training (TVET),” he says.
Currently, Kwizera studies at Kavumu Vocational Training Centre located in Nyanza District in the Southern Province. He is in his first year pursuing general mechanics and he says he is full of hope for a better future.
Kwizera dropped out of school in 2012 when he was in fifth year studying construction technology at APADEM Busoro in Nyanza District.
Getting out of school
Kwizera, who was born in Ruri village, Shyogwe Sector in Muhanga District, testifies that he started taking drugs in O-level at Ngororero Secondary School around 2011.
“I joined a bad group which introduced me to taking drugs. The situation was so bad that I used to get chased from school occasionally for not respecting the school authorities,” he says.
Kwizera explains that his mother, Josephine Mukakalisa, had to toil to raise the school fees as the family was poor.
Frustrated by his son’s behaviour, Mukakalisa reached out to the local authorities to take her son to Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre, he narrates.
Kwizera says he resumed his secondary studies in 2014 after being released from Iwawa, where he testifies that he gained the basic knowledge and discipline that guides him in his daily life.
Building life through TVET
After being released from Iwawa RVSDC, Kwizera pursued a certificate in construction technology.
“At the rehabilitation centre, all youth are tasked to acquire various skills through TVET. I have since recovered well and gained confidence, hence, I strive towards building a sustainable livelihood using the acquired skills,” he says.
Kwizera hopes to become a job-creator after his course.
“Vocational skills have enabled youth to contribute to the country’s development,” he says.
Engineer Eugene Ruzindana, the director of Kavumu Training Centre, says that TVET schools are the solution to the unemployment problem which is mainly common among the youth.
“When youth, especially those who engage in drug abuse and roaming the streets are introduced to TVET, they find it a quicker way to regain their livelihoods as job creators,” he says.
Ruzindana adds that there is need for a better partnership with parents and authorities to get more youth into TVET as it will transform the country faster.
Dr George Afeti, the chairman, African Union TVET Expert Group, says investing in TVET is investing in national socio-economic development.
“TVET holds the key to technological progress, rapid industrialisation, wealth creation and poverty reduction. African governments should therefore allocate adequate resources for modernising teaching and learning facilities in TVET institutions, as well as the training and continuous professional development of TVET teachers,” he says.
And for the Kwizeras of this world, theirs is just one story of how TVET can help retool errant and normal youth to cope amidst harsh economic times.