African youthful population demonstrates notable growth in the recent years and the trend is expected to continue. In Kenya for instance, about 800,000 youth aged 15-24 years join the labour market annually, but with little or no competences in skills required to enter decent employment, and be retained in the job. Whole youth development (WYD) which incorporates academic and non-academic skills that help young people to succeed in various settings may address this challenge. Kenya government has put efforts to address skill needs for youth by implementing a competence based education and training program in TVET institutions. Similarly, such initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa have been observed in Ghana and South Africa. Despite such efforts, results indicate inadequate inculcation of WYD skills among youth. This paper endeavours to determine drivers that influence adoption of WYD skills among youth in Kenya’s TVET institutions.
The study adopts a descriptive cross-sectional survey design targeting youth aged 15-25 years attending TVET institutions in nine counties in Kenya. Data was collected in 2018 from 3,452 students, 347 instructors, and 171 institutional heads. The study explored four major components of the WYD, namely: functional numeracy and literacy, digital learning and soft skills from which a composite weighted overall WYD score was computed based on the items answered correctly. A multivariate regression model was fitted, with the students considered for level one, and the TVET institutions as level two, to determine which factors drive WYD skills.
The variables that demonstrated significant influence on WYD skills were: student’s sex and age, TVET’s category, institutional resources, and the geographical location. Results show that an increase in age of a student leads to an increase in the overall WYD score by about 0.5%. The female students’ performance was lower than that of the male students’ by about 2%. Students from Vocational Training Centers (lowest category) and from the bottom socio-economic status (SES) quartile performed about 2.6% poorer than those either in National Polytechnics (highest category) or Technical Training Institutes (middle category) who were also from the bottom quartile. Students from institutions that are inadequately resourced, performed poorer than those from well-equipped institutions by about 3.2%. Performance by students from arid counties (eg Garissa county) was poorer than those from other non-arid counties. There was no significant difference in WYD performance between the students beginning (first years) their study and those who were about to complete (fourth years) their study. We can deduce that interventions to improve WYD in TVET should focus more on level two variables (institutional).
The paper concludes that adequate and relevant equipment should be offered in TVET institution and curriculum review to ensure integration of WYD skills throughout the students’ academic journey. This paper presents evidence on key drivers that need to be addressed in order to enhance whole youth development skills’ acquisition that education policy/decision makers should adopt. The paper fits the conference’s sub-theme, ‘Approaches in comparative education that engage with ontological alterity, including education policy framing, pedagogies, practices, and spaces that decenter the human’.