Government is putting emphasis on strengthening Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), an avenue through which it hopes to bridge the country’s dire skills gap.
The move is contained in the budget for the 2011/12 financial year, where government spending on education will rise by 10 per cent to Rwf170.5b from Rwf155.7b in the financial year 2010/11.
Presenting the budget Finance Minister, John Rwangombwa, said that 67 per cent of employers surveyed expressed satisfaction with TVET graduates, which explains the treasury’s decision to prioritise TVET.
According to the most recent study by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Rwanda suffers a huge skills gap.
“TVET will have a huge portion in the education budget with a focus on acquiring quality trainers,” says Sharon Haba, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education.
Specifically, government plans to scale-up TVET by providing the necessary equipment to 16 vocational training centres while improving the quality of education at all levels.
Haba explains that government’s high spending on the education sector is meant to cater for training teachers—especially in the English language—teachers’ motivation, purchasing text books and provision of technology teaching materials as well as recruitment of more teachers.
Other areas include promotion of Science and Technology by constructing and equipping science laboratories.
In the financial year 2009/2010, 40,008 teachers were trained in English language, to enable schools to use English as the language of instruction and all mathematics and sciences teachers were given special training sessions due to the specific nature of their subject.
“We are open to regional and international volunteers because we cannot shop only inside the country,” Haba explained.
Eng. Pascal Gatabazi principal of Tumba college of Technology, confirmed the importance of TVET, saying that it is the way to go if Rwanda is to bridge the skills gap.
“Vocational training absorbs everyone, meaning any one can do something, but it is nothing if we do not have the right equipment and quality trainers,” he emphasised.
Tumba College of Technology absorbs 71 per cent of the employment rate of TVET graduates. Yet the TVET policy, published in 2009, demanded increase of the absorption rate of TVET graduates from around 25 percent in 2006 to 75 percent next year.
In the year 2009, 100 trainers were trained in Singapore and Philippines while 316 teachers were trained locally.
Gatabazi said that to address the critical shortage of qualified technical and vocational manpower in the labour market, there is a need to link TVET education institutions and the labour market to have the feedback of the product.
He hailed the attention by the government and other development partners like the World Bank, GTZ and the Belgian Technical Cooperation in the area of TVET.
“They acknowledge its importance and I am very optimistic that with significant number of reforms done, Rwanda will bridge the skills gap through TVET.”
Rwanda’s medium term strategy—the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) — emphasises skills development as an essential precondition for sustainable economic growth.