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Teso community embraces TVET courses to tackle poverty, unemployment

As a measure to mitigate the high poverty index and unemployment rate, the Iteso community has embraced Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) courses to help youths acquire hands-on experience and develop specialised expertise in a particular area.

This is in line with government policy and in support of Vision 2030, which targets to empower youths with skills for self-reliance and the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ advocacy approach.

Started in 2019 at the Chamasiri TVET Institute, the institution has continued to attract a large number of students, both from the community and across the country, and some international students from Uganda have been attracted to a broad range of courses.

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According to the institute’s Principal Joseph Okumu, in just 3 years, the school population has risen from 500 to over 2800 students pursuing 35 different courses, from artisans’ level to diploma.

The courses, which majorly require passion, do not require any minimum entry grade, which is a game changer for many who have wished to have a skill or certificate after dropping out at the primary school level.

Adams Okwiti, Mercy Emase, and Eveline Nabwire are a testimony to how TVET courses have transformed the community on the Busia-Uganda border.

Okwiti, who has specialised in welding and fabrication, has showcased his talent, a move that saw the institution recall him as a trainer under Board of Management (BOM) agreement.

The 32-year-old father of two who now operates his own company has trained over 47 students, out of whom 26 are employed by various companies and 10 have opened their own businesses.

“When I took this course as one of the pioneer students under the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) scholarship, people thought I was visionless; it has taken passion and dedication for me to prove the worth of this course,” narrated Okwiti in his workshop.

He added that “I have trained over 47 students, something that attracted parents here to embrace the institution and courses as they can see my efforts.”

Adams, who has now registered his own company, continues to inspire many in the Teso community, both in Kenya and Uganda.

The story is not different from Mercy Emase, who has just completed artisan exams in electrical installation. Just like Okwiti, she joined the institution after hearing testimony from other girls who passed through TVET courses and were successful.

“I wanted to employ myself or get employed even though I had dropped out of school at the primary level. Here, my dreams of being an engineer have been reignited,” said Emase.

Even though she is still a student, she has already been called upon to repair electronics, not forgetting being part of the team that installed electricity in the school administration block and classes.

“My first assignment was at the school, where we installed electricity in the entire building with my colleagues, who were mostly male students. This gave me confidence and passion to become an engineer,” she narrated to the press.

The sentiments were echoed by Teso North MP Oku Kaunya, who urged parents and youths to grab the opportunity from the technical institutions around them to acquire skills that help mitigate unemployment rates and drug abuse.

“Here in Teso North, we have prioritised technical courses to empower youths directly. We want the community to have many youth who can employ themselves and others,” noted Kaunya.

I want to transform the Teso Community to be like China or Japan, where every youth has a skill in different fields, so that we can outsource to other counties and abroad,” he added.

Teso North NG-CDF has so far sponsored over 800 students to take up artisan courses ranging from building and construction, welding and fabrication, garment and dress making, hairdressing, fashion design, plumbing, and ICT, among others.

“By 2027, the Teso community will be a model for others. We want to create employment to mitigate cases of drug abuse and poverty, which have colonised the community for many years,” said Kaunya.

The President, Dr. William Ruto, has underscored TVET as a pathway to career progression, noting that it is key to spurring industrialization in Kenya.

Pointing out the excellent innovations that were exhibited by the students who participated in the Africa Technology Challenge, the President said that the African continent urgently needs innovations that will address the negative impacts of climate change, which must be integrated into various sectors of development.

“The government has employed 2000 TVET teachers and supported the institution with equipment to ensure that more young people have access to gadgets and tools that will improve their acquisition of knowledge and skills to be able to be job-ready as we move forward to the future,” said President Ruto during the Madaraka Day celebration.

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