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From Calgary to Kenya: Skills that matter

What do Kenyan college students share with their counterparts here in Calgary?

What do Kenyan college students share with their counterparts here in Calgary? For one thing, a desire to graduate with the skills they need to join the workforce. Thanks to a team from Bow Valley College, the Kenyan Ministry of Education will help more college graduates in Kenya secure jobs after graduating.

As most of Kenya’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) curriculums are outdated, and don’t comply with current information and communication technologies, many of the program’s graduates are unable to secure jobs after completing college. 

“We’ve been producing hands off graduates for decades; now it’s time to produce hands on graduates,” says Charles Akatch, the chief principal of Kabete National Polytechnic in Kenya. 

In May, Bow Valley College’s International Education (IE) and Teaching and Learning Enhancement (TLE) departments, in partnership with Algonquin College in Ottawa, were awarded the contract to work on the Kenya Education for Employment Program (KEFEP). 

For the project launch, staff from both colleges travelled to Kenya to lead planning sessions with key government agencies and work closely with Kenyan partners and stakeholders to draft the implementation plan.

Since then, the team has been helping the Kenyan Ministry of Education incorporate a Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) approach to their TVET courses. This approach will increase employment opportunities for Kenyan youth, and ensure graduates join the workforce with the skills and competencies industries need to spur economic growth for Kenya. 

Kenya’s 10 national polytechnics will also benefit from this partnership with an additional focus aimed at training polytecnics on how to incorporate workplace essential skills and environmental sustainability into all their training programs. 

“The big issue is that there’s high youth unemployment, it’s a drain on the economy,” says Chris Enns, Bow Valley College’s International Development Officer. “Our Kenyan partners have high hopes for what KEFEP will accomplish not only for their youth, but for the country too.”

Emily Maina, Deputy Director of TVET with the Ministry of Education, and liaison officer for KEFEP agrees. Her hope is that KEFEP will not only produce employable graduates, but reduce poverty and enhance access to basic needs for Kenyans becoming a best practice for others. 

On his experience working on KEFEP to date, Enns says, “Ultimately, what our Kenyan partners want through this project is the same thing that we want for our learners at Bow Valley College. They want to be better at training their learners in current industry-relevant skills and competencies in order to increase their chances of employment.”


KEFEP is a $20.3 million CAD, five-year project (2016-2021) funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). The Bow Valley College-Algonquin College consortium is working on one of the eight projects that are part of KEFEP. The workplace essential skills and environmental sustainability component will be delivered in partnership with Bow Valley College’s Kenyan partner institution, the Rift Valley Technical Training Institute, and will involve the College’s TOWES department. Bow Valley College’s component will run until December 2019.




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