Govt to introduce post-graduate programmes for TVET students

A group of Rwanda Polytechnic students during a workshop. / Courtesy

Rwanda Polytechnic and Workforce Development Authority have designed a proposal that, once approved by cabinet and beneficiaries, will introduce bachelor and master’s programmes considered as professional degrees for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students.

Students have been learning TVET from level 1 to level 7 according to TVET qualification framework.

While level 6 was for a TVET diploma and level 7 for TVET advanced diploma considered as A1, the proposal seeks level 8 and level 9 which are bachelors and Masters degree respectively.

Ernest Nsabimana, who presented the proposal last week said there is need to amend Rwanda TVET Qualification Framework to include level 8 and level 9.

He said that TVET institutions are limited to offer training programs for advanced diploma which is a barrier in professional development of human resources.

“Once approved, Bachelor of technology and master of technology should be offered by Polytechnics but we need qualified trainers. TVET professional degrees will offer an innovative approach to education by taking students beyond textbook learning to highly advance hands-on experiences through laboratories, workshop and industrial work experience,” he said.

He said that TVET professional degrees are needed in areas such as in industrialization, information technology, computer communication systems, electrical technology, artificial intelligence, power plants and energy production, biotechnology and agro processing technology.

Other areas are construction, water, sanitation and sewage, railway, airport construction, geospatial technology, transport and logistics, manufacturing, creativity design, hospitality sector among many others.

“We need selected innovative students, develop entrepreneurship skills needed to improve technological solutions, promote industry based training, prepare TVET schools managers and TVET trainers at the highest level,” he emphasised

He explained that master of technology ( or level 9) could have 180 credits while bachelor of technology could have 120 credits and added that post graduate diploma in TVET school leadership and management could have 60 credits.

“They will be provided by IPRCs and accredited private polytechnics while postgraduate diploma and TVET trainer certificate by Rwanda TVET Training Institute,” he said.

James Gashumba, the Vice Chancellor of Rwanda Polytechnic said that in the academic year of 2020/2021, the first TVET graduates with advanced diploma would be enrolled in bachelor and master of technology.

However this will happen only if it is approved by the cabinet and wishes of different stakeholders and beneficiaries. This will require importing qualified trainers to teach the first intake.

But, he stressed that before proceeding for a bachelor’s degree, the graduates with advanced diplomas must have worked in industries for at least two to three years.

“We have to pay attention so that all students do not think of running to high level of bachelor and master’s degrees. That is why only 20 per cent of graduates with advanced diploma who are the best will be admitted to bachelor’s degree and then master’s degree,” he said adding that there are currently between 6,000 and 7,000 graduates with advanced diploma since 2010.

He said that the initiative could respond to challenges whereby current teachers in TVET schools have previously learnt in a system dominated by more theory work.

There are over 5,000 teachers in TVET schools.

Dr Theodore Habimana, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality TVET Specialist at WDA said that the programmes will avail trainers by 2024 as number of TVET students will increase whereby 60 per cent of 450,000 students from ordinary level will be joining TVET School.

Eng. Kazawadi Papias, an Entrepreneur said that bachelor and master’s programmes in TVET are timely considering that most of the graduates from polytechnics with advanced diploma have in the past resorted to seek such degrees from general universities in Rwanda and others across the region and added that the programmes have to be aligned to what skills are needed by local industries.