SEATTLE, Washington — In Kenya, there exists a stigma around Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET) programs. People who attend TVET programs as opposed to universities are generally perceived as unintelligent and incapable. However, these programs are essential for poverty reduction and increased productivity in developing nations. The Kenyan government recognized the potential of TVET programs in improving the country’s economy, and in 2013 it created the TVET ACT in an attempt to rebrand TVET in Kenya and ensure increased enrollment in these programs by 2030.
TVET and Poverty Reduction
Technical and vocational training programs are crucial in alleviating poverty in developing nations because they allow young adults to enter a workforce where there are a lot of jobs immediately available. As unemployment is a leading cause of poverty, providing young people with the training and education employers are looking for can help break the poverty cycle in Kenya. TVET programs provide graduates with employable skills and are often shorter than university programs so they can enter the workforce sooner. The Permanent Working Group on TVET, a group dedicated to improving TVET employability in Kenya, states that TVET programs “recognize education and vocational training as central pillars of youth employability and sustainable enterprise development in Kenya.”
Rebranding TVET in Kenya
To increase enrollment in TVET programs in Kenya, the government has started a rebranding campaign to change the stigma in the country surrounding careers in technical and vocational fields and entice youths to choose a career path in these industries. The Kenyan government is now calling TVET the “preferable option” for higher education for young people.
Additionally, in 2018, Kenyan’s National Treasury increased the allocated funding for TVET by 30% from the previous year. By doing this, they were able to reduce the yearly cost for students in TVET programs from $920 to $564. For many Kenyans struggling economically, this lowered cost is hugely appealing. The government is also offering tax rebates to private companies who hire interns from TVET programs to strengthen the link between technical training and the private sector in Kenya.
TVET Student Enrollment
The government’s attempts to rebrand TVET are working. In 2018, more than 2,500 students chose to enroll in TVET programs despite academically qualifying to attend college. TVET students are referred to as “TVET Champions,” and the number of TVET student enrollment has increased by nearly 1,400 between 2017 and 2018. The Kenyan education ministry said in a 2018 statement that “the growing number of these TVET Champions is a clear indication that concerted efforts to improve enrollment in TVET courses are yielding fruits.” Student enrollment from those who do not qualify for college is up as well, proving that TVET programs are becoming more popular across the board.
There is still work to be done to curb the stigma surrounding technical and vocational training in Kenya. However, the results from the 2013 TVET ACT are promising. Kenyan youth are enrolling in TVET programs in much higher numbers than in the past, and the Kenyan government is continuing to establish resources and funding to improve TVET program enrollment and job allocation for future generations.
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