The national government’s decision to devolve vocational training to county governments has not done justice to the youth.
According to the "Landscape Mapping" report (2017) by Zizi Afrique Foundation, vocational training centres (VTCs) had the highest capacity to mop up the many youth not in education, employment and training.
Further, the report states that vocational training centres present the greatest opportunities for reaching the youth facing extreme adversities.
Since devolvement, the challenges faced by VTCs have outweighed the gains.
The report indicates that VTCs are faced with the great challenge of accessing funding from county governments, which has led to poorly-equipped institutions, demoralised and insufficient instructors leading to poorly-trained graduates. Moreover, this discourages the youth from enrolling in these institutions.
Information gathered from managers in public VTCs points to the fact that there were better support systems in place before devolution.
They pointed out that staff recruitment and remuneration was in place, albeit in small numbers, while skills upgrading and promotions were more often. Currently, it is done in an unpredictable and unsystematic manner.
Devolution of VTCs to county governments has introduced bureaucracies and delays that affect the flow of funds and operations.
Additionally, it has led to inequalities in terms of allocation of funds and prioritisation of the centres.
Importantly, county governments where expertise exists have positively engaged in the rebuilding and rebranding of these institutions.
The youth in these areas have the option to join these facilities, which are better equipped.
However, those deep in the rural areas have no way to access the information on enrolment, and hence the facilities remain unutilised.
Another angle to the funding is that the capitation grants that the VTCs expect to facilitate teaching and learning, facilitated by KUCCPS, in many cases arrive months late when the learners have been sent away or have been asked to pay fees.
In the training chain, VTCs are the weakest yet they reach the most vulnerable and vast numbers.
Further, devolvement has left them weaker and with limited support. The expertise to oversee the institutions was not devolved and county governments have been left struggling to keep them going.
Ms Maina is the programme manager at Zizi Afrique Foundation, Nairobi