4 January 2012

Rwanda: Quality of Vocational Teachers Wanting - TEVSA

The association of private Technical and Vocational Schools (TEVSA) has blamed the quality of graduates from technical and vocational schools on the lack of qualified teachers.

In an interview with The New Times, John Gasana, the chairman of TEVSA, said: "Most teachers don't have enough practical skills, a key factor in vocational and technical education.

TEVSA is an association that brings together over 40 technical and vocational schools.

"As a result, the students they produce are incompetent, which puts them at a disadvantage on the labour market because they only have theoretical knowledge," he said.

Gasana also cited lack of enough equipment as another factor which undermines the quality of the institutions. He called for more government support in availing necessary tools, since they are too expensive for private operators.

He said the association had established five centres of excellence countrywide to which it has provided some equipment, adding the logistics are also accessed by public TVET schools at a subsidized fee.

Teachers in vocational and technical schools should be equipped with practical skills if the country's education sector is to suit the ever-changing demands of the labour market, thus significantly contributing to the economy, he added.

TEVSA, among its major roles, trains teachers and instructors from member schools to help improve their teaching skills. It also provides equipment for use in member schools and harmonizes member students with private employers to ensure that they get jobs.

When contacted for a comment, Jerome Gasana, the Director General of the Workforce Development Authority (WDA), the public institution responsible for promoting TVET, said that only new or unlicensed schools lack qualified teachers and equipment.

"The problem only exists in new schools or those we have not been authorized as TVET training centres because most of them have limited or no resources to acquire requisite equipment or hire qualified teachers," he noted.

"But WDA does not overlook such schools even though it is not a general problem. We only recommend schools which have qualified teachers and enough equipment. In truth, our graduates suit the labor market when they go out there".

Speaking to The New Times, Ronald Herold, an expatriate tutor with TEVSA, also highlighted lack of qualified teachers in TVET institutions, and called for entrenchment of private-public partnerships as a way of boosting the sector.

"That framework would, for instance, provide both the teachers and students the opportunity to upgrade their skills from private establishments," he said.

Lately, the government has promoted TVET as an ideal form of education that can best deliver an employable and entrepreneurial workforce as the country seeks to build a competitive knowledge-based economy.

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