Building Self-Sufficiency Through Vocational Training Centres


Peninnah Gathoni


Kigali — In an era where all governments are

fighting against poverty, particularly as they pursue

their set Millennium Development Goals (MDG's),

education is vital.

Today, not all Rwandans are able to afford all school

dues as a result of prevailing financial constraints.

Statistics in Rwanda show that out of every children

who starts school, only less than

one percent make it to University.

The rest drop out of school, and embark

on agricultural tasks while others

move to the city in search of odd jobs.

These will provide alternative education to school

dropouts to attain meaningful employment

so as to live productive lives.

WDA Deputy Director General Fatima Mukarubibi

views vocational training as an important

factor in the drive to enhance

Rwanda's productivity.

This she said will raise people out of poverty

despite people's negative mentality

that continues to hinder its success.

"Parents need to stop thinking that

a good child is one who goes to university

and that one who joins vocational training

is lost.

Students from VTCs are able to get jobs

just as their counterparts who join

higher institutes of education,"

Mukarubibi said.

WDA is mandated to facilitate skills development

programmes that ensure hands-on training that

is different from the traditional theoretical

knowledge passed on by

most educational institutions.

Since inception, the Integrated Polytechnic

Regional Centre (IPRC) popularly known as

Kavumu, located about two hours from

Kigali in Rwanda's Southern Province,

youth have been equipped in

various occupational skills.

Francis Muhizi is a 23 year- old a S.3 drop out

who has enrolled for vocational training at

the centre because his parents can no

longer pay his secondary school fees.

"I am from Mutara, I heard people talking about

Kavumu and the skills that they taught.

I thought of the skills I would acquire if

I decided to come because I knew that

my parents could no longer pay

my secondary school fees," Muhizi said.

He adds that, "It's easy to study from here

because we are provided

with meals and hostels to stay in."

At Kavumu, Muhizi successfully

joined the Automotive Electricity class.

"I have always fancied cars, and I am

determined to acquire skills that will

assist me to get a job later," he said.

In Muhizi's class, a make shift car and

demonstrative equipments are on top

of the table as the trainer assists

his students to understand the mechanism

of automobile cars.

The attentive students periodically

interrupt him with various questions

as they seek for answers.

The trainer uses Kinyarwanda, French

and English because students

do not share a common language.

"I will be here for as long as I am able

to understand all these machines.

I studied human sciences in school so it's

not very hard for me to understand

all the new machines," says Muhizi.

For other students like Muhizi the training centre

will serve as a bridge to self sufficiency

and a niche in the current job market.

In the 'Machine Tools' class a few blocks away,

Faustin Munyengabe, a trainer progresses on

with his lesson and this time,

there are little interruptions.

The blackboard is covered with different formulas

as Munyengabe makes an effort to explain

the complex theories of machine functioning.

"We try all we can to make the training

as practical as possible.

This helps the students to understand

the hard concepts behind machine operations,"

Munyengabe said.

However, Munyengabe admits that training

is quite tasking since students do not share

a common language.

He said that some are francophone

while others only understand Kinyarwanda.

"Having all the needed equipments assists

to make the classes more practical," he said.

As a prerequisite of joining the classes,

the vocational centre expects students to have

a background of sciences and mathematics

that makes understanding easier.

Munyengabe assured that as soon as

his students graduate, they are able to work

for any firm that manufactures tools and

equipment or start small businesses.

"This institution takes students who have dropped

out of senior three and are at least 18 years old.

After enrolment we facilitate their training in a field

of their choice.

Their school fees are affordable and it

includes boarding fees.

Upon completion we invite employers to review

their achievements for placement," Rudahunga explained.

Rudahunga notes that though several campaigns

have been made to attract women into the institution,

very few have enrolled for training.

"I understand that some courses we offer

especially engineering and automotive mechanics

are perceived not to be lady-like.

Women don't want to be associated with them.

However, we have beauty and cooking courses

that still attract very few of them.

It seems we still have to work on raising

awareness to encourage women to join,"

said Rudahunga.

IPRC provides training in priority fields

like; electricity, plumbing, construction, publicworks,

automobile mechanics, welding, cookery,

machine maintenance, hair and beauty.

The courses provide a platform for students

at to compete favourably in the labour markets

According to Rudahunga, the school has

four levels that were completed after 6 years.

The students contribute Rwf 45,000 for the courses,

the most expensive is automotive mechanics

that costs Rwf 185,000.

These expenses cover food and

housing for the students

The Belgium Technical Co-operation (BTC) is one

of the partners attached to the institution.

They have availed state-of-the-art machinery

and equipments for practical training in the school.

"Our partners such as BTC have provided us

with equipments that have made learning

very interactive.

As a result statistics show that a huge percentage

of our students have good jobs," Rudahunga affirms.

Against this background, Rwanda's youths who

have dropped out of school are encouraged

to go to VTC's in order to be trained

on relevant skills for the evolving needs

of employers as they contribute to

the country's economic development.

Link here

             J-L K.
Procurement Consultant
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