Education: Why Technical Courses are gaining popularity in Kenya [University and College Placement]

Faith Kabochi is singing joyously as we drive in to her compound in a small village in Keveye sub-county, Vihiga. Her song describes the peace and happiness exhibited in her heart, two months after receiving her KCSE results.

The 18-year-old is among the 747,161 candidates who sat for the 2020 KCSE examinations. She is one of the top performers in her school, having scored a B plain. Kabochi welcomes our crew with a cup of tea.

Her story is engaging as we sip the tea –we are compelled to assume it as an ‘escort’. The girl tells us how she worked hard at school to earn this grade. But what pinch our ears is the career she wants to venture in. We take a keen listening to the just twisted story angle.

It is a tradition that candidates who pass their KCSE ‘with flying colours’ chose careers in Medicine, Aviation, Engineering among other topflight careers. But for Kabochi, tradition has to change as she considers a technical career.

The girl is among the 6,617 students who attained grade C+ and above and have chosen TVET programmes. For Kabochi, a Diploma in Information Technology course will shape her career.

According to KUCCPS, the number of students joining TVET institutions this year has increased by 40 percent compared to 2,632 placed in 2019.

Speaking on Wedesday during the release of the 2020 universities and colleges placement results, Education CS Prof. George Magoha said 142,540 candidates attained the minimum university entry grade of C+ and a majority who scored above B plain have opted for TVET courses.

“Students who preferred TVETs courses comprise of 20 who have scored an A plain, 1,574 a B plain, and 5,023 a C plain. This is encouraging because the government has built and equipped TVET institutions in every county,” said Prof. Magoha.

The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) extended mandate to fund students in TVET institutions. The move came as the government focus shifted to opening more technical colleges to empower young people with technical skills.

Business Daily reports that many universities in Kenya are freezing labour costs due to high debt. This has scaled down their expansion.

Ministry of education filed a report to parliament showing how universities are struggling to settle their employees. The report points that public universities have outstanding remittances for months.

This financial crisis facing public universities comes from the declining trend of government sponsorship. Business Daily further notes that recurrent grants for public universities dropped to the current 53 percent in June and stagnated, reducing the average amount allocated per student.

The crisis weighs down the quality of education university students are currently receiving. Lectures in public universities are paging their services as they struggle to meet their bills following reduced or delayed pay.

University degrees have lost value as most employers in the market are looking for diploma graduates with technical skills. Association of Skilled Migrant recruitment agencies of Kenya (ASMAK) chair Harun Ambenje says employers would rather go for a diploma holder than a degree graduate.

“Degree holders brag a lot, compared to a diploma holder who knows the job market is competitive and has to work hard to achieve the task goals. Most degree holders know much in theory than practicability,” says Ambenje.

According to UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, “Best Practice” document, flexibility, adaptability and lifelong learning have become major objectives of best practice, in addition to employability.

The document further states that the notion of “Best practice” was introduced in TVET institutions in Kenya in 1994. Many TVET graduates become self-employed and apply the entrepreneurial skills they have acquired in technical training institutions in their businesses.



See also: University courses that received zero applications

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