MKU Chairman calls for an urgent need to revamp TVET curriculum to make them attractive to the youth.

MKU founder and chairman Dr. Simon Gicharu. 

Dr. Simon Gicharu, the founder and chairman, Mount Kenya University (MKU) has urged the government to revamp Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET) courses so as to make them attractive to the youth again.

In an article in one of the local dailies, Gicharu notes that it was disingenuous to abandon a sector that was an equally important cog in the wheel of our development aspirations with all attention and resources increasingly being shifted to university education

“We started to run TVET colleges down with all attention and resources increasingly being shifted to university education instead of strengthening them to meet emerging technological trends. With the thirst for degrees taking hold, the colleges were left to their own devices. In fact, they were on the verge of being abandoned,” he says.

Dr. Gicharu notes, as a result, most of these colleges were turned into satellite campuses of universities, leaving technical training in limbo and engendering an imbalance in the country’s manpower requirements, leaving thousands of youth curtailed from acquiring life skills.

“The society’s obsession with white-collar jobs led to a sustained neglect of TVET institutions. Vocational training certificates were perceived to be of little worth as they could not confer a well-paying job and the resulting high status. These misplaced perceptions drove a bias against these skills.”

The MKU chairman notes that the consequence of this neglect has left the gap in expertise being experienced in some sectors of the economy.

“Technical skills are an indispensable ingredient to economic development. But the skills are obtained from middle-level colleges, which have been neglected for a while. We do not have enough artisans, masons, carpenters, technologists and middle-level electricians and engineers, among others. Yet this cadre of manpower underpins vibrant economic growth,” he adds.

With reference to countries such as Germany and the Netherlands which he says owe their prosperity to technical colleges, Dr. Gicharu stressed that technical graduates were the pillars of development and had the country maintained technical training as a priority, it could have been far much advanced.

He challenges those tasked with the role to turn around TVET institutions to ensure that the quality of education in these colleges is top notch by re-equipping them. He added that these institutions and the curriculum must keep abreast of these global trends.

Moreover, he adds, courses should be creatively designed to allow trade and craft graduates to easily proceed to university upon excellent performance.

“There is an urgent need to revamp the curriculum. Massive technological advancements have taken place. Modern machines are critical; a college cannot claim to offer technical courses if it lacks the right equipment. We also need to upgrade the expertise of the trainers. Quality training presupposes the existence of top-notch tutors who apply innovative approaches to teaching,” he says.

He concludes: “Technical graduates are inclined to immediately start their own businesses because they possess practical skills. This is precisely what this country direly needs, as it will give young people jobs. Lastly, technical graduates need to be accorded due respect at the workplace and remunerated appropriately.”
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