Development partners have offered their support to Kenya in transforming technical training colleges, a move they say would hasten the attainment of the Big Four agenda.
They said the skills obtained from such institutions are a critical foundation for the development of the country.
In a breakfast meeting with Deputy President William Ruto at Karen on Monday, the development partners hailed the move by the government to focus on competence-based education.
Those present included the Danish Ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen, Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Anna Jardfelt, US Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec, Marcellin Ndong of the African Development Bank, the Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Suchitra Duran, the Ambassador of the European Union to Kenya Stefano Dejak, among others.
They said they will help in increasing the physical infrastructure and equipment of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVETs), capacity building of trainers and boosting governance of regulatory institutions such as the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority.
Mr Dejak lauded Kenya for its push on technical training, saying that that would catalyse the country’s development plan.
“The skills imparted on learners should be demand-driven. The export market, particularly the European one, should be the driving force behind the setting up of modern technical colleges in Kenya,” said the Ambassador of the European Union to Kenya.
The African Development Bank representative said the Bank would continue playing a central role in building capacity of TVETs. South Korea, on the other hand, promised to provide the colleges with equipment.
“We will also endeavour to fill any existing gaps for we are aware of the role these colleges can play in giving Kenya a new face,” said Mr Ndong.
While pledging their support for the attainment of the Big Four, the envoys called on the government to ensure that as the reach for the technical colleges is amplified, so should the skills imparted to learners be strengthened.
They noted that there was need for Kenya to work on improving its Doing Business profile and incentivise the private sector in supporting the growth of TVETs.
Ms Duran said her country had strong technical and economic cooperation programme, which included training.
“We will therefore be (very) happy to do the training of trainers programme. That is already on offer,” said Ms Duran.
Mr Ruto said the challenges facing TVETs were slugging their contribution to the economic growth of Kenya.
As a result, he said, the breakfast deliberations had been convened to offer lessons to Kenya from countries with experience in the running of TVETs.
The Deputy President noted that once the identified gaps are filled, the next five years would see increased employability and self-employment creation, especially among the youths.
“Our desire is to put these institutions in equal footing with universities because they are the fulcrum of development. The implementation and the attainment of the Big Four agenda would be driven chiefly by TVETs,” said Mr Ruto.
Today, TVETs make a contribution of about 0.2 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product as compared to an average of 10 per cent in developed economies.
“This, therefore, calls for us to work together. The old-school intimation about TVETs that they are homes to failures calls for the change of the narrative. It is as important as the formal education,” Mr Ruto noted.
He said the international community had been part of the journey to transforming Kenya, picking up from where the previous administration left, and should, therefore, help the country in realising its grand development plan.
Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training Kevit Desai said that the government had in the last five years built and equipped 130 technical colleges.
“Our target is to have TVETs in all constituencies. So far, 202 constituencies have been covered with 78 pending. In this financial year, we expect to put up 15 new colleges,” said Dr Desai.