RE: “Over 20,000 sit national technical, vocational exams” (The New Times, September 22).
I have to commend Workforce Development Authority (WDA) under Mr Jerome Gasana for the commendable work in implementing the TVET policy quickly. However, I have several suggestions on how the policy can be improved:
1. Job creation: There is a need to offer relevant market responsive technical skills so that the graduates will be job creators instead of job seekers. Example; computer programming to allow the graduates create software/website can make them job creators.
2. Research capacity: Even at this level, graduates should be encouraged to come up with relevant local solutions through a research funding programme. I would call upon the national commission of science and technology to put in place a comprehensive programme to work with WDA on how to discover, implement and commercialise relevant appropriate technologies.
For example, charcoal stoves need significant improvement, the ones in the market are faulty and one has to keep replacing every other month. This skill may not necessary require a university graduate and I believe TVET graduates can come up with a good solution.
3. Commercialisation strategy: The Ministry of Education had a very good programme called Rwanda Endowment Fund that sought to scale local innovations. To this end, cheese production entrepreneurs and food science innovations have been funded through this fund—which creates much needed business enterprises and strong private sector dominated by SMEs.
4. Intellectual property and standards: In order to encourage and protect appropriate technology innovations, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) needs to reach out to TVET schools to train them and encourage them to register their IP innovations.
This includes the above-mentioned charcoal stoves, food science innovations, computer programming patents, among others. Also, Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) needs to carry out education and awareness campaigns on TVET in order to promote entrepreneurship among TVET graduates.
I would actually suggest an awareness campaign by RSB, RDB, the National Commission of Science and Technology, as well as WDA to emphasise on the practical aspect of entrepreneurship.
5. Company registration: Many of these graduates may not be informed about company registration procedures. RDB needs to target these graduates and where possible take registration roadshows to TVET schools in order to prepare them for the entrepreneurship world.
There are always youth programmes, including itorero, and these too need to be incorporated into the TVET programmes.
TVET in many developing countries is an important engine of job creation and government agencies need to keep this in mind and prepare the approximately 25,000 graduates to create jobs and make it in the world of entrepreneurship.
To the graduates, all the best in your endeavours as you continue to contribute to the development of yourself, your family and country. The road ahead is not easy but if you endeavour to learn, approach mentors, government institutions (for advice) and join professional associations you will be successful.