Factors influencing the attractiveness of a Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institution
A case study of a Technical Institute in Kenya
The Kenya development plans have, over the years, consistently stated the one major educational objective as that of producing properly and effectively trained, disciplined and patriotic youth who can in turn make a positive contribution to the development of the nation. Over the past three decades, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Kenya has experienced both structural and curricular changes that have in turn impacted on its graduates.
Technical and vocational education is fundamental to the world of work. For most people, work is the desired outcome of their education and it is through their work that people achieve self-fulfillment. Lasonen and Burge (1991) note that one of the major issues relating to the world of work where TVET has played a major role in providing solutions is the question of what changes should be made to school curricula at all levels so that young people are more work-oriented and have the basic skills needed for productive work. Omulando and Shiundu (1992) assert that there has been evidence of negative attitudes towards technical and vocational education by a large section of the Kenyan community. It has been claimed that the negative attitude was bred and crystallized with the advent of colonial rule in Africa and the discriminative approach of colonial administration to the education of the African in relation to that of children of the white colonialists. These actions could have influenced negatively the smooth incorporation of technical and vocational programmes into the regular school system of education.
However, it has been argued that, because of certain economic realities, attitudes seem to be increasingly changing in a positive direction with regard to the acceptance of the need for technical and vocational education in school systems, especially at secondary level. Charner (1996) has observed that, over recent years and especially in developing countries, learners have begun to show more interest in technology. As a result, countries have infused this essential component of technology into their school curricula as technical and vocational education. More recently, in the year 2007, Kenya re-introduced technical subjects in secondary schools as examinable subjects, five years after they were dropped. The subjects had been taken out in 2003 soon after the Ministry of Education launched a revised syllabus for primary and secondary schools. In an article published in the Daily Nation on 4 July 2007 the Education Permanent Secretary said the ministry had re-thought its decision to scrap the subjects.
It is clear that the role of TVET as an effective means of empowering society to engage in productive and sustainable livelihood cannot be overemphasized. The diversity in provision of TVET in many countries is associated with disparities in historical, political, educational, cultural and economic contexts. Thus TVET has not been spared changes caused by the political, economic and social forces. Variations abound in terms of structures, operating conditions and outcomes.
Some studies have indicated that enrolments in TVET institutions have been declining (Dahl 2003; Simiyu 2007). The declining enrolment may result in a shortage of technology education teachers if it is not checked. Technology education policy makers and implementers need to investigate ways to increase enrolments in their programmes or the profession may fail in the future.
Today, TVET institutions in Kenya comprise the informal sectors (Jua Kali), some secondary schools, Ministries, National Industrial Vocational Training Centres (NIVTCs), Youth Polytechnics, Technical Training Institutions, Institutes of Technology, National Polytechnics and Universities. The curricula vary according to the level of training. NIVTCs are government owned and are charged with training and in-servicing personnel working in government and industries in technical fields. Youth polytechnics (formerly, village polytechnics) are responsible for training in artisan courses, popularly known as Government Trade Tests, for primary and secondary school leavers or drop outs. Technical training institutions and institutes of technology mainly train graduates of secondary school in craft and diploma courses. National polytechnics normally offer diploma courses. It is worth noting that diploma courses are prerequisite for most mature entry university admission criteria.