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TVET transformed life of a Primary School drop-out from a mason to County Director of Public Works

KNA    The Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Act 2013 was designed to address the job skills issue in Kenya and, more so, to ensure an increased and sustained enrolment ratio of 20 percent by the year 2030.

This ground-breaking move on the part of the government to revamp the entire education system has been evident in the lives of thousands of Kenyan youth whose lives have been positively transformed since TVET came into place.

As The World marked Youth Skills Day on Thursday (15th July) whose theme this year focuses on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship despite the challenging  of Covid-19 pandemic, we caught up with a beneficiary of TVET institutions whose life has been tremendously transformed through acquiring of technical skills.

Mr. Geoffrey Cheruiyot, the Bomet County Director of Public Works is a living testimony of the transformational power of TVET having enrolled in one of the institutions to pursue an artisan course in masonry immediately after he sat his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations (KCPE), failing to join secondary education as is the norm.

“I sat for my KCPE in 1993 and passed well by attaining an impressive 473 out of 700 marks. I was positioned five out of the 26 candidates but as my colleagues were joining secondary schools my parents decided that I should join Emkwen Youth Polytechnic for masonry courses” said Mr. Cheruiyot.

Speaking to KNA, Mr. Cheruiyot confided that this was the only affordable option for his parents who also believed that if he acquired a technical skill, he would be productive and independent faster.

He revealed that after two terms in the polytechnic institution, he dropped out of school and wanted to be enrolled in a high school as he felt the training was not as thorough as he expected but after a few weeks of soul searching he decided to go back but this time round, enrolling at a different institution.

“I did my own research on artisan certificate courses and how one can advance to diploma and higher diploma courses and I decided to enroll at Kiptere Youth Polytechnic,” Mr. Cheruiyot said.

While at Kiptere, he got inspiration from the institution’s Principal Mr. Charles Malwa whom he says started out as a student at the institution and gradually through the years climbed up the ladder to become the Principal.

Mr. Cheruiyot was committed and determined to excel academically through vocational training and in1995 he managed to sit for the Artisan Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) after which he enrolled for a craft certificate in Masonry at Moi Institute of Technology (currently Rongo University) where he graduated with a credit pass in September 1999.

Armed with Craft Certificate, Mr. Cheruiyot hit the road running looking for employment opportunities and within weeks he landed at Donwoods Construction Company where he worked diligently for a year and a half and got promoted to foreman.

“I oversaw the construction of a school’s dormitory and perimeter wall and the Kenya Pipeline headquarters. My construction experience developed through interaction with construction professionals including highly skilled technicians, engineers, architects, and quantity surveyors. The day to day interaction fanned my passion to pursue more education,” added Mr. Cheruiyot

In 2005, Mr. Cheruiyot enrolled for diploma course in Building and construction at Coast Institute of Technology and after graduating a year later, he decided to pursue Bachelor degree in Quantity Survey at the Kenya Polytechnic and in 2014, he graduated scooping a second class upper division grade.

Mr. Cheruiyot is not only an individual driven by passion and determination but also a representation of resilience through his life journey rising through insurmountable odds to now pursue a master’s degree in Construction Management at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

“I have finished my course work and I am currently working on my thesis and I hope to complete by the end of this year 2021 and after I get my masters, I will proceed to the PhD level” stressed Mr. Cheruiyot.

He is currently registered by the Board Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors after he passed the accreditation examinations.

“I applied for the vacancy of Director of Public works position in Bomet County and was invited for an interview. The panelists marveled that I qualified for the job yet I never went through secondary education. I narrated to them the story and they got inspired” said Mr. Cheruiyot.

Mr. Cheruiyot hopes to inspire the youth to pursue their dreams and take advantage of the TVET institutions which are currently offering relevant technical courses that could change their lives and create jobs for themselves and others.

Meanwhile, the Kericho County Director of TVET Mr. Peter Cheruiyot expressed his joy that his Public Works in Bomet County was one among many beneficiaries of TVET who are now reaping fruits of the blue collar jobs which he says are readily available as compared to the white collar jobs.

He believes that devaluing of so-called Blue Collar work is a mentality borne out of a contorted notion of education’s function in the society that prioritizes examinations and assessment scores over comprehensive learning of diverse disciplines.

Further to this he says, the perceptions of boring old machines, dirty greasy overalls and smoke-filled factories have been sustained over time and it’s a mentality he says is gradually changing with more youth enrolling in TVET institutions around the country.

“In the Kericho County over 3,921 students have been enrolled to the five public TVET institutions in the last one year but due to Covid-19, the enrollment has been slightly low” said the County director of TVET.

The Director of TVET observed that the attitude of the general public in Kericho County towards technical education is gradually changing as his department continues working with Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs in enlightening parents and the youth on benefits of TVET and courses that youth can train in and be productive in the society.

“Some of the Courses offered in TVET institutions include: Welding fabrications, building technology, electrical and electronics, food and beverage production, hairdressing, plumbing technology, automotive engineering, mechanical engineering,” said Mr. Cheruiyot.

 “Fewer women enroll in TVET institutions as compared to men due to the mentality that most technical courses are male-related. We are however trying our best as a department to ensure we enlighten women that they too can take up technical courses and become productive”

According to Mr. Cheruiyot, the beauty with TVET training institutions is that they offer flexible entry and fee requirements to students wishing to study in these institutes.

“To get a place at a TVET institution, one has to apply via the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS). The available programmes, institutions, minimum entry requirements and the application procedure are always available on the KUCCPS students’ portal accessible through the Placement Service website www.kuccps.ac.ke,” Mr. Cheruiyot noted.

He also stated that the Entry requirement for all Diploma Courses is a C- and above; D (plain) and above for Certificate while other course categories are open and students can apply for funding from the Higher Education Loans Board, (HELB) for their fees payment and upkeep.

The Public TVET institutions in Kericho County include; Bureti Technical Training Institute, Chebirirbei Vocational Training Center, Kenya Forestry College, Kimasian Technical Training Institute, , Kipsamumgut Vocational Training Center, Kipsinende Technical Training Institute, Kiptere vocational Training Center, St. Kizito Special Needs Vocational Training Center and Toroton Vocational Training Center.

On the other hand, the private TVET Institutions in Kericho County include; African Institute of Research and Development Studies, Bethel Institute of Technology, Kenya Institute of Management – Kericho Branch, Kericho Beauty School, Kericho School of Professional Studies, Kiptere vocational Training Center, Mospen Institute of Development Studies, Nishkam Saint Puran Singh Institute, Pan-African Mission College, Rift Valley Institute of Business Studies and Valley College.

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