27 November 2012

Rwanda: Technical and Vocational Skills Critical for Devt

President Paul Kagame on Monday urged the public to embrace Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes, and to shake-off the perception that only conventional education system guarantees a bright future.

The clarity and frankness in the President's message underlines the government's renewed commitment to promoting TVET as the best possible vehicle to poverty eradiation and economic development.

For the past four years or so, the government has sought to rebrand technical and vocational training programmes, albeit with little success - at least with regard to the mindset.

The popular perception in most of Africa is that technical and vocational schools are a reserve for school dropouts, slow learners or the disadvantaged.

Since the colonial era, the education system in Africa has bred an attitude that has helped widen the gap between what is taught in school and the demands of the labour market. Many children go to school in pursuit of an academic qualification, naively thinking that is a visa to their dream job.

This conventional approach has only managed to churn out clueless job seekers, who often fall short of the hands-on skills that are badly needed on the job market. As a result, unemployment has been on an upward trend.

It is, therefore, encouraging that the government of Rwanda is moving to reform the education system to align it with the realities on the job market.

Through TVET, graduates will also be in position to create jobs for themselves and be more competitive on the regional market and beyond.

However, for this to succeed there is need for systemic mindset change across the board. Employers need to actively hire graduates with hands-on skills to encourage more and more children to choose TVET as opposed to the conventional education system.

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