There is need to integrate Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) skills into conventional school curricula from primary to university level so that whatever level of education one reaches, they have some hands-on skills they can rely on to eke a living.
Speaking at the opening of an international TVET symposium in Kigali, yesterday, key actors in TVET from around the world were urged to recommit to the sector and consider market-oriented skills to boost youth employment.
James Mugerwa, the assistant commissioner for vocational studies at the Ugandan Ministry of Education, urged regional governments to allocate a proper budget to TVET development initiatives.
“Vocational education has been marginalised in the entire East African region. The budget allocation has not been considering TVET; funding is required to acquire training equipment and build infrastructure and capacity of educationists,” he said.
Mugerwa said during their visit to different TVET schools in Southern Province, on Monday, he observed the problem of equipment in many workshops yet TVET relies heavily on practical learning.
“Governments should ensure that TVET skills are integrated in curricula from primary to university level so that regardless of the level of education attained, a student will always have some TVET skills to put to good use,” he said.
While opening the symposium, the Minister of State for TVET, Albert Nsengiyumva, said TVET has uplifted employment rate in the country since 2011 and called for concerted efforts toward more achievements.
Under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, government targets to create 200,000 off-farm jobs annually.
“This is only possible if all actors, including government and partners, recommit to empower graduates with hands-on skills as TVET is mainly about practice,” he said.
The Rwanda Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 2015, released last month, indicated that at least 146,000 off-farm jobs were created in Rwanda every year over a period of three years since 2011.
Nsengiyumva said while the government is focusing on building capacity of educators, modern training equipment are also paramount for TVET success.
“A competent teacher is required but efficient workshop is paramount. Training materials still pose a challenge but we are gradually empowering teachers and equipping them with efficient materials,” he said.
The international TVET symposium, organised under the theme, “Learn from experience: Best practices from the field,” attracted over 100 participants, including government and private sector officials, development partners, TVET teachers and students.
Private sector’s role
The symposium seeks to provide participants with a platform to share experiences from the field with a special emphasis on the involvement of private companies in TVET.
Nsengiyumva said although government encourages investment in TVET, it is strict on the quality of education that any school that does not meet the standards is closed down.
Last month, seven TVET schools in Southern Province were served with notice of closure over poor performance.
Nsengimana said the country targets to have 60 per cent of all students in TVET by 2020.
Anne-Pierre Mingelbier, the co-manager of the Belgian common TVET support programme (Pafp) at Belgian Development Agency, commended the government’s commitment to TVET, noting that the involvement of private sector in TVET was crucial to the development of the sector.
“TVET schools are empowering Rwandans with skills needed at the labour market and it is important for Rwanda to continue to develop this sector by linking public and private sectors because private sector is the leading force for the development of the country,” she said.
Mingelbier said the symposium should create the momentum, encourage better coordination among all the actors and encourage each one to eagerly play their part for the development of TVET and the country at large.
“Good plans are required to reinforce TVET at all levels to create linkages between IPRCs and districts, encouraging local authorities to consider TVET in their plans,” she said.
The symposium is a prelude to African Ministerial TVET Conference scheduled for tomorrow to conclude the ‘TVET Week’ that started on October 2.