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MUTHAMA: University placement wake-up call to invest more in technical courses

Wednesday June 03 2020

Since the results of the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination were released late last year, the school leavers had been waiting with bated breath, all those months, for their next level of education.

Monday’s announcement of university admissions by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services (KUCCPS), therefore, elicited a sigh of relief by the 125,449 qualifiers, who scored C-plus and above.

A total of 667,222 candidates — 355,782 boys and 341,440 girls — sat the 2019 KCSE exam. Notably, the number of candidates who qualified for university admission increased to 125,746, from 90,377 in 2018.

On the other hand, 563,479 students scored between the mean grades of C and E.

The technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions have the capacity of admitting 350,000 students, or 62 per cent of the candidates; the rest have no option but to chase non-existent jobs.

Worse still, only 98,393 — a paltry 14.7 per cent of last year’s Form Four candidates — applied for courses in the TVETs.

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Despite universities churning out half-baked graduates year in, year out, they have remained the preferred academic destiny to many candidates, who have a penchant for choosing courses that are geared towards those institutions.

Simply put, there is an unquenchable thirst for degrees in this country. And the desperation is seen in the number of candidates who are caught engaging in exam irregularities. Last year’s cohort had 1,309 culprits, though a huge improvement from 4,519 in 2018.

It can further be attested by the exiguous number of TVET applicants last year.

While the government has been wooing Kenyans to enroll for technical and vocational training, the sector is perceived as a dumping ground for failures. Lack of teaching and subordinate staff, insufficient and outdated equipment and inadequate infrastructure have made matters worse.

This negative attitude towards TVET among Kenyans must be addressed. Moreover, the government should invest in TVETs to make them attractive to more students, lest the Kenya Vision 2030 and ‘Big Four Agenda’ remain a mirage.

The Indian writer and mental calculator Shakuntala Devi said: “Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.”

Joseph G. Muthama, Kiambu

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