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Nyamira County Education CECM, Emily Ongaga lighting the flame at the Nyamira County headquarters. He later flagged off the 100 Torch and Flame caravan. Photo/Arnold Ageta

By Arnold Ageta

As Kenya marks 100 years of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), celebrations are ongoing across the country as the 100 Torch and Flame caravan passes through institutions.

In Nyamira county, the 100 Torch and Flame caravan was received at the county headquarters by the County Executive Committee Member (CEC) of Education, Emily Ongaga, who represented Governor Nyaribo.

In his speech read by Emily Ongaga, Governor Nyaribo expressed his pleasure and honor to witness the historic moment of flagging off the TVET torch.

“Indeed, this is a great milestone achieved,” his speech read. “As you are aware, technical and vocational education has existed since the colonial days.”

The governor said that the main objective of TVET was to produce semi-skilled labor for the cottage industries in the Kenyan – Ugandan railway development. The skills include masonry, carpentry, and in the agriculture sector.

“To address the issue of unemployment, I want to urge all youths to enroll and study in the technical and vocational training centers so that they acquire the skills and knowledge that are needed to compete in the job market,” Nyaribo said.

He told the youths to take advantage of TVET in relation to the industrial park that is coming up, which will require technical skills.

Nyaribo promised to fully recognize prior learning and assessment experiences technology that the county wants to embrace.

“Currently, the certification of this recognition of prior learning and assessment experiences is done at the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA),” he clarified. “I want us to take this opportunity as a county to push for one of our institutions to be certified as a certification center.”

Nyamira is home to five national TVET institutions (Nyamira National Polytechnic, Gitwebe Technical Training Institute, Borabu Technical Training Institute, Kitutu West Technical and Vocational College, Kitutu Masaba Technical and Vocational College) and 43 county Vocational Training Centers (VTCs).

Emily Ongaga said the county is prioritizing the aggregated industrial park that needs technical skills to operate.

She asked the 600 thousand youths who did not apply for placement in institutions of higher learning to enroll in TVET institutions to gain skills that will make them competitive in the job market.

“I would like to announce that 27 out of the 43 VTCs in the county have been identified for special support and funding, revamping, equipping, and reskilling to improve the quality of technical skills offered in the institutions in preparation for labor supply for the upcoming industrial park,” she said.

Nyamira National Polytechnic Principal, Geoffrey Andama addressing the media during the flagging of 100 Torch and Flame in Nyamira. Photo/Arnold Ageta

Echoing the sentiments of Emily Ongaga, Geffrey Andama, Principal of Nyamira National Polytechnic, regretted that in terms of embracing TVET education in the county, they are not doing very well.

“The enrollment is not what we expect,” he said. “And while we are out here celebrating 100 years of TVET education in Kenya, we are symbolically telling our people to let us mop up the youth from the villages to join the technical institutions.”

He assured the youth that TVET institutions are the key to economic prosperity, job creation, employment, and economic liberation of our people.

He encouraged the youth to join TVET, saying the mode of funding is excellent with more than 90 percent.

“There are scholarships and loans for the students, and they are only required to cater for their accommodation,” he said.

He, however, said that TVET institutions lack proper road network access, which he said are impassable, especially in the rainy season.

“Another challenge TVET institutions face is a lack of accommodation, and I encourage residents to invest in hostels to cater to the students whom the institutions are unable to accommodate,” he urged them.

His counterpart from Kitutu Masaba Technical Vocational College, Peter Nyaribo, said there has been stigma surrounding TVET institutions. He said that many consider TVET as learning institutions for school dropouts.

“As a community, we want to erase that perception because even those who qualify for universities enroll in TVET,” he emphasized. “This is what has been killing our institutions.”

Kitutu Masaba Technical and Vocational College Principal, Peter Nyaribo speaking to journalists during the receiving of the 100 Torch and Flame in Nyamira. Photo/Arnold Ageta

To reduce stigma against TVET institutions, there is a need to have enough manpower and equipment so that when students graduate, the need for retooling or retraining them does not arise.

Meanwhile, the government seeks to increase enrollment in TVET institutions from the current 350,000 in the next five years.

“We want to increase TVET enrollment from the current 350,000 to up to a million youth, with emphasis on ensuring the institutions are satisfying the market demands,” earlier said Stanley Maindi, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority director of technical services.

The 100 Torch and Flame was launched at Nyeri National Polytechnic by President William Ruto on March 25, 2024, in celebrations to mark the milestone in the technical training subsector.

The Nyamira 100 Torch and Flame caravan was flagged off by CEC Emily Ongaga before it made its way to the five national government TVET institutions in the county.

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