By Newtimes.co.rw (Michel Nkurunziza)
In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the country was devastated in many ways including a lack of skilled labour and trainers in different technical fields. Those in the workforce had either been killed during the Genocide, while others, who had participated in the massacre, were either in prison or had fled the country.
The Ministry of Education developed the first Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy, adopted in 2008, to address the serious deficiencies in trained human capital for technical professions and meet the major objective of Vision 2020, to create a knowledge-based and technology-led economy.
The new policy led to the creation of Rwanda Polytechnic, approved by Cabinet in December 2017, which took over the TVET implementation role previously conducted by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
In 1994, Rwanda had five technical schools and a small number of vocational schools. By 2010, there were 69 TVET schools which have since increased to more than 360 TVET Centers with approximately 103,000 students.The number of graduate students increased from a few hundred in 1995 to 97,000 in 2018 and over 400,000 to date.
Rwanda Polytechnic has eight colleges designated as ”Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges” (IPRCs) which are: IPRC Gishari, IPRC Huye, IPRC Karongi, IPRC Kigali, IPRC Kitabi, IPRC Musanze, IPRC Ngoma, and IPRC Tumba. They offer Advanced Diploma & Diploma courses in different fields namely Civil Engineering, Irrigation and Water Engineering, Agriculture Engineering, Hospitality Management, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Tourism, Forest Resources Management, Mechanical Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, and Mining Engineering.
Training Centers in coveted skills have also been established like the Africa Digital Multimedia Academy (ADMA) created to equip students with the skills necessary to work in all areas of the digital media industry with the same degree of talent and resources as anywhere else in the world.
Rwanda Coding Academy is a model school that aims to produce, in a more sustainable manner, a pool of top-end experts in the field of software engineering in order to address the current shortage of software developers in the Rwandan market and the region.
Impact on labour market
Dr Eugene Mutimura, Minister of Education, says that the future is tending towards Hi-Tech and that the Polytechnic colleges established all over the country are aimed at positioning TVET as a very attractive course option for young people. “The National Strategy for Transformation 1 (NST1) has a target of ensuring that 60% of our young people are enrolled in TVET schools by 2024.”
Besides TVET Schools, the Minister strongly encourages all schools mainly tertiary institutions to provide more practical industrial orientated trainings
According to National Tracer Survey and Employer Satisfaction Survey for TVET graduates of the 2015/2016 academic year, employers are satisfied with the graduates. The survey showed that the employment rate within 6 months after graduation was 64.9% among TVET graduates and 75.2% among Polytechnic graduates. Most graduates in TVET schools and Polytechnics were satisfied with the quality of education at 72.4% and 76.6% respectively while employers’ satisfaction with graduates was at 78.2%.
Eng. Pascal Gatabazi, Director General, Workforce Development Authority, said that the research raised awareness of where improvement is needed to ensure that students are empowered with employable skills and entrepreneurship capacity. “This type of research is necessary and will continue because it is feedback that informs us of what measures need to be taken to ensure that the knowledge and skills that students acquire in TVETs and Higher Education institutions meet labour market demand.
We are allocating more resources to increase the capacity of teachers and availability of equipment and training consumables. It is our responsibility to help students to develop their entrepreneurial and innovative capacity and thus be able to scale up their innovations and become proprietors of small and medium enterprises that create jobs.”
The growth in the number of TVET students has increased innovation. Students at IPRC-Tumba designed a hybrid system that combines power from utility grid and off-grid (solar system). The hybrid system has a solar power part with the capacity to generate 800 Watts that can supply electricity to 2 families in rural Rwanda.
They also developed a Smart Egg Incubator to incubate and hatch poultry eggs. This machine increases the productivity of poultry farming by incubating and hatching a huge number of eggs in a short time. The farmer can save more than 80% of their expenses.
IPRC-Tumba students also fabricated a Solar Water Heater which, over the years, has been continuously improved to attain higher levels of thermal efficiency and cost effectiveness. “We have to put much effort on innovations that can lead to rapid development,” said IPRC-Tumba Principal, Eng. Rita Mutabazi.
IPRC-Ngoma students built an electric wheelchair for the disabled to enable them to move freely in all directions, without expending much mechanical energy and reducing the need of a helper. They also built strong pavers made from recycled plastic waste and sand, used to pave different places such as pathways and parking spaces.
Dr James Gashumba, Vice Chancellor, Rwanda Polytechnic, said that TVETs were instituted to ensure that students were equipped with academic and work skills and also initiate a change in the mindset of students and parents regarding their view of occupations that require working with their hands. “Rwanda Polytechnic plans to carry out a national awareness raising campaign that will last one year, with the assistance of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, conveyed by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency. The campaign will be characterized by interactions with people who have made their mark in TVET, involve young people and social media to ensure that there is a lot of conversation such that by the end of the campaign young people who are gifted and creative and want to earn a good income will choose TVET instead of choosing TVET because they feel they are not intelligent enough. We want to change that mindset and are hopeful that we will.”