The number of students joining technical and vocational education training schools TVETs has tremendously increased over the past two years, statistics from the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) show.
The Director of TVET Training at the WDA, Théodore Habimana, told The New Times that enrollment increased from 67,633 students in 2011, to 74,926 in 2012, and that the number is projected to increase further in the coming years.
The number of schools shot from 280 in 2012 to 305 currently.
This, according to Habimana, was due to the government's strategy to promote technical skills that were somehow neglected previously.
Habimana said the target set in March, last year, was to have 416 TVET schools by 2017 across the country, meaning three TVET schools of excellence in each district, before rolling out at sector level.
He said of the 416 target, 305 schools are now working.
However, Habimana cited lack of infrastructure and equipment among their challenges.
According to WDA plan, the remaining schools will be constructed in phases: 30 (2013-2014), 29 (2014-2015), 23 (2015-2016), 15(2016-2017) and 9(2017-2018).
At least six schools will be built by private people.
Habimana also said teachers are not only few, but also do not have the necessary capacity and some do not know English.
He said WDA organised short-term training in 2012 where 689 teachers were initiated to pedagogy and 500 to English.
Habimana further noted plans are underway to establish a National Training of Trainers Institute to build the capacity of teachers.
People used to think vocational schools are meant for poor and less intelligent people. This kind of thinking has changed with time.
Students who talked to The New Times said learning practical lessons was still a big challenge.
"Most of our courses are theoretical. I do not know how to fix for instance the ceiling, yet I am about to finish my studies. I do not think I should be able to compete with someone from either Uganda or Tanzania. Normally, theories should go hand-in-hand with practical works," a construction student at IPRC-Kigali said.
Lack of practicals
Another student, who asked not to be named, said he knows nothing about the maintenance of the machines they use, the milling machine among others.
"Last year, we were 21 using three operating machines for making a variety of things," he said.
François Gahama Sibomana, the IPRC-Kigali-TSS director-general, acknowledged the equipment challenges.
"We have serious challenges of lack of equipment for practicals. General mechanics involving electricity, electronics, and others, are among the most affected. We only have three operating machines that are used by 26 students," Sibomana said.
He said many companies continue to deny their students job opportunities or internship opportunities.