Editorial: Plan for more advanced TVET training welcome but we must not lose focus

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

Workforce Development Authority and Rwanda Polytechnic have said they have concluded a proposal that seeks to introduce bachelor and master’s programmes for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

They say that the plan, which only awaits cabinet approval, would see the introduction of more advanced studies in the national TVET Qualification Framework, with the addition of levels 8 and 9.

While the bulk of employees for the industry will continue to be supplied through the already existing TVET programmes, the proponents of the idea believe that advanced professional degree courses will allow for training of TVET professionals.

For instance, under the proposal, Bachelor of Technology and Master of Technology would be offered by Polytechnics.

Level 8 and 9 graduates are expected to play a central role in the country’s development agenda, some going on to serve as master TVET instructors, while others would be of impact in industrialisation, information technology, computer communication systems, electrical technology, artificial intelligence, power plants and energy production, biotechnology and agro-processing technology. Other sectors to benefit include construction, water, sanitation and sewage, railway, airport construction, geospatial technology, transport and logistics, manufacturing, creativity design, and hospitality.

This is an important plan that should be supported by all stakeholders by ensuring that all the necessary requirements are in place before the rollout of the courses.

Yet this plan ought to be an integral part of a broader effort to ensure that TVET system serves the purpose for which it was first introduced. TVET is basically about empowering learners with relevant hands-on skills needed in the labour market. These are the kind of skills that any economy needs and that’s exactly why the Government moved to ensure that at least 70 per cent of Ordinary Level graduates join TVET system as opposed to the conventional schools.

However, the TVET sector has been struggling lately with graduates taking longer to get jobs and their skills found wanting, at least in some cases. There have also been concerns about funding for TVET institutions, with budgetary allocations shrinking.  That has left many wondering whether the TVET system rolled out some ten years ago is actually what is being practiced today.

While the plan to introduce higher levels of TVET training is a welcome prospect, it’s vital that everything is done to ensure that the country’s TVET system truly serves its primary purpose.

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