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Bell tolls for varsities offering diploma, certificate courses

Introduction of  Competence Based Education and Training framework  means univesitites will soon find it untenable to offer these programmes and instead concentrate on offering degree courses

James Momanyi @jamomanyi

The Ministry of Education is set to launch the long-awaited Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) framework that will streamline the roles and expectations of various stakeholders in the sector.

Set to be launched later this month, the framework will cover the entire education ecosystem ranging from basic education, middle level colleges and universities. It will spell out the roles and expectations of various stakeholders in the promotion of access, quality, equity and relevance in the education sector.

Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education (TVET) Dr Kevit Desai told People Daily that over the years, the biggest challenge in Kenya has not been about labour supply and demand but rather the training of personnel with the required competences.

The past few months have witnessed supremacy battles pitting technical institutions and middle-level colleges on one side and universities on the teaching of diploma and certificate programmes.

According to the PS, while it was agreed during a stakeholders’ engagement that due to the amendments of the Universities Act of 2014, universities could offer certificate and diploma programmes, they will soon find it untenable to do do and instead concentrate on degree programmes only.

“After the launch of the framework, emphasis will shift to the quality and relevance of training offered and not who is offering it. The quality of training should meet international standards and institutions must realise that the diplomas and certificates of today are not like those of yesteryears,” the PS said.

In August, the The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) said in a statement that the diplomas and certificates being offered by universities must first be approved by the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TVETA).Desai argues that in the old system, which is going to be phased out, competence was not given much prominence.

“The old system assumed that if one failed in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, there is another pathway to proceed in the education value chain. That has to stop. We are going to align certificates to competence. Anyone can offer certificates or diplomas but all will be aligned to the CBET framework and must also be approved by private sector, which is one of the consumers of the skills we are teaching,” Dr Desai said.

Because training will be aligned to competence, with time universities will soon find out that it will require more investment to offer certificates and diplomas and instead decide to specialise with degrees. “We will be tight on quality and this will deter investment in certificate and diploma courses,” he added.

Starting from next year, all institutions will start  offering training under CBET. The State has already established assessment centres across the country and a pilot study has successfully been rolled out in 50 technical colleges.

The labour market will play a critical role in the implementation of CBET by establishing the occupation standards and offering internships and apprenticeships to trainees. “Under the new system, students will be assessed as they go along by way of outcomes produced. In the past, teaching used to be theoretical, where students would sit exams at the end,” the PS said.

In the envisaged changes, students will first have to demonstrate a skill and show practically what they have learnt. “A certificate ought to get one a job. There has to be value attached to the certificate otherwise parents would be wasting their time paying school fees,” he added.

Last month, the Department of Vocational and Technical Education received two continental awards in recognition of efforts in developing and reforming the TVET at a Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa (Capa) function in Nigeria. Kenya was recognised for its role in establishing a separate scheme of service for TVET trainers and transferring them from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The State was also praised for its efforts in expanding TVET to improve access and the provision of loans and bursaries to TVET students to promote equity. “The continent has noticed these brave reforms and the steps our government has taken in the past six months to address challenges in the sector. This gives us a chance to position ourselves as hub for TVET in Africa where we can start to export skills,” the PS said.

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