Examining the capabilities of Kenya’s TVET institutions in instilling soft skills

Abstract

 Presenter (s) Vollan Ochieng, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

Education and training are fundamental to the attainment of sustainable development, much so to the wholesome development of an individual. It is viewed as a medium for reducing widespread unemployment in Africa, including Kenya. TVET institutions have been identified to be vital for inculcating requisite skills that equip youth with skills needed to undertake multiplicity of roles in industry of choice. The Kenyan government has thus made strides to improve TVET education. Some of the interventions aimed at increasing TVET enrolments as well as curbing challenges pertaining to access include: equipping TVET institutions and redesigning the curriculum to enable the TVETs to offer youth with technical skills and basic competences. The inclusion of ‘soft skills’ in the curriculum – competence based education and training (CBET) – is aimed at producing wholly developed youth who not only possess technical skills, but also soft skills.

This paper explores the capabilities and capacity of TVET institutions in inculcating soft skills among youth attending TVET institutions in Kenya. The study uses a descriptive cross-sectional survey data collected in the last quarter of 2018. Data used in this paper was collected from TVET instructors, and TVET institutional heads in three TVET categories (National Polytechnics – NPs, Technical Training Institutes – TTIs, and Vocational Training Centers – VTCs) in nine (9) of the country’s forty-seven (47) counties (Garissa, Kakamega, Kisumu, Meru, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nyeri, Turkana, and Uasin Gishu). A total of 171 TVET institutions were targeted in the nine counties, with two instructors and an institutional head targeted in each institution.

The analysis show that: more male instructors (93%) are confident of their level expertise in the courses they teach than female instructors (89%), with no striking difference between public and private institutions; TVET curriculum put more emphasis on the production of technical skills over soft skills and core values hence low training of the latter in TVET institutions; the level of training in WYD skills among instructors was highest in life skills (60.8%), followed by academic skills (57.7%), then core values (57.2%) and lowest in social-emotional skills (50%). Qualitative results show that pedagogical practices, assessment procedures and, inadequate prioritization of soft skills by the instructor training curriculum and institutional leadership hinder production of soft skills in TVET institutions.

Policy implications of these findings indicate the need for enhanced integration of WYD into teaching practices, including institutionalizing mandatory in-service training of instructors in teaching soft skills in TVET institutions. This paper highlights policy relevant evidence on the state of soft skills inculcation in TVET institutions, particularly the levels of instructors’ expertise on WYD skills and recommends workable action points on pedagogies, policy framework, and practices thus fitting well within the conference sub-theme, ‘Approaches in comparative education that engage with ontological alterity, including education policy framing, pedagogies, practices, and spaces that decenter the human’.

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