The Government has announced plans to streamline policies and introducing incentives to aid its elaborate plan to increase the uptake of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses. This is part of the effort to achieve the target of having at least 60 per cent of the student population enrolling for TVET, Members of Parliament heard on Thursday, July 22. The revelation was made by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente while addressing members of both chambers of parliament on what the government is doing to promote TVETs and polytechnic education. To date, there are 335 TVETs and 14 polytechnic schools occupied by a total of 97,440 students and 5,435 teachers. Ngirente explained that the efforts invested in the past decade are already bearing fruit, pointing out that at least 70 percent of those who completed their vocational school studies in 2019 were employed within six months of their graduation. “We are already reaping from the investments we have made in these students. In 2019, out of 66,099 students who completed their education in TVET, 70 per cent got jobs within six months of graduation. This is not an indication of the value of what they studied but also the fact that indeed knowledge-based skills are highly marketable,” he said. The plan Ngirente pointed out that the plan is to ensure that any student who is interested in pursuing their education in vocational studies can do so and even go as far as they want to in terms of tertiary education. At the university level, the student will now get a Bachelor of Technology (Btech) instead of an advanced diploma and after that Master of Technology (Mtech). “We are working to ensure that more and more students can pick interest and actually take on these courses, find work and change their lives and contribute to national development,” he said. Additionally, he said that the government is now in the process of purchasing equipment that TVET schools were lacking to boost quality. “This was discouraging parents from enrolling their students. These are called consumables that are an integral part of TVET studies since they are required in practicals. We have started including them in each TVET’s budget and this means that parents will not be charged for this again,” he promised. As part of the plan to achieve the 60 percent TVET student quota, Ngirente explained that the TVET policy passed in 2015 is currently being revised to ensure that it is updated and in line with the current trends. “This policy will then be synced with the general education policy which is also being revised. This TVET policy will not only provide guidelines but it will also answer some of the questions that are being raised on the labour market,” he said. Additionally, the government also put in place a workplace training policy that will help students who are taking these courses to get the practical skills that they need. Ngirente also touched on the significance of the recently established Rwanda TVET Board which he said is responsible for following up the day-to-day studying and teaching of vocational skills. Additionally, the National Examination and School Inspection Authority was also put in place not only to ensure adherence but also set to examinations. “I would also like to add that the Higher Education Council (HEC) which didn’t have this responsibility before will now also be doing quality control in TVETs too on top of other universities,” he said. Ngirente also pointed out that the government has also not forgotten other Rwandans with interest and skills that were not fortunate enough to make it to primary or secondary school. “We have a programme for this particular category where they can take courses that take between six and nine months and are awarded certificates that can help them join the job market,” he said. Building schools He explained that government plans to build at least 56 vocational schools every fiscal year. He said that while building standalone TVET schools requires at least Rwf1 billion, the government is putting in place TVET wings at 12-year basic education schools where those done with senior three can immediately join TVET. “We are adding classes and workshops to already existing schools. This reduces the cost because the infrastructure and the management are shared while on the other hand, we are bringing schools closer to the students,” he said. MPs react MP Marie-Therese Murakatete reminded that although the government is keen to build and equip new schools, it should not forget the old ones. “I would like to remind the government to pay attention to the schools that have been around for too long as they strive to build new ones. There are those that to this day still have no laboratories or even a school bus that can take students to a field trip,” she said. MP Theoneste Safari Begumisa congratulated the government for the strides that it has made in a short time. “This presentation is an indication that the education system in Rwanda is improving and the advancements made in the area of vocational education are without doubt going to be the vehicle of the development our country is always striving for. I congratulate you,” he said.