Sh340m grant for technical training as govt seeks to plug skills gap

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The Ministry of Education has invited proposals for technical training institutions for a Sh340 million grant aimed at promoting skills development.

Dubbed Skills Initiative for Africa (Sifa), the programme is an initiative of the Africa Union Commission (AUC) with funding support from the German Government through the German Development Bank, KFW and GIZ.

The Director of technical training at the ministry, Dr Meshack Opwora said Thursday that the initiative is in line with the government’s reforms in the education sector and seeks to strengthen innovative and sustainable skills development.

“Education spending by functional classification indicates that the TVET sector is the least funded and accounts for only about five percent of total education expenditure,” Dr Opwora said, adding that the government aims to enhance access, equity, quality and relevancy of the education and training system.

In the last few years, the government has increased funding to the technical and vocational educational training institutions (TVETs) that has seen a rise in the number of institutions and enrolment.

In the 2017/2018 financial year, the budget allocation to TVETs was slightly over Sh6 billion. The allocation more than doubled in the following year 2018/2019, after the government apportioned Sh16 billion to the technical training institutions. This amount accounted for three percent of the total budget for the Ministry of Education.

With several reports showing an existing skills gap in the market, the government hopes that TVETs will help address the shortage.

The Sifa initiative is providing a grant of 3 million euros (Sh340 million) to local technical institutions to promote provision of practical skills relevant to the job market.

It will be implemented through the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), which focuses on vulnerable groups including women, people living with disabilities and the youth, who are often the main victims of unemployment.

Organisers say selection will be a competitive process and qualifying institutions must demonstrate their ability to provide skills required in the labour market.

From the proposals received, three institutions will be shortlisted. They will then undergo further scrutiny and evaluation after which the eventual winner will be selected to receive the grant.

The funds will go towards construction of facilities, purchase of equipment, training of trainers and scholarships for students.

Both public and private TVET institutions are eligible to apply.

Dr Opwora appealed for collaborations between the government, private sector and development partners to augment efforts to mitigate funding challenges to the sector.

World Bank estimates that 40 percent of the youth in Kenya are unemployed. Statistics from the bank also show that only six out of 100 learners who start primary school in Kenya make it to a university or a tertiary institution. Without the necessary skills to compete in the job market, these learners end up unemployed.

Describing the structures in Kenya as well-functioning, the Financing Facility Manager for Sifa Mr Svend Jensen said the reception of the project in the country has been positive so far.

The project is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2021.

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