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Tertiary institutions key to Kenya’s quest for innovations

Students during training session at a vocational institution. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Students during training session at a vocational institution. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Research shows that there is a direct correlation between education and economic development of any country.

This can be attested by the way many economies world over push for provision of basic education for all and even increased access at higher levels of education.

According to World Bank, in 2015 Kenya’s adult literacy rates stood at 78 and 67 per cent for males and females, respectively, which compares favourably with the sub-Saharan Africa average of 69 and 52 per cent for males and females, respectively.

Access is not the only critical issue in education. Quality and relevance are equally essential.

In the recent times, we have seen a lot of efforts from the Ministry of Education towards ensuring quality and relevance through transformation of the national examinations, revising standards, pushing for integrity as well as reviewing of the curricula. All these efforts are highly commendable.

Recently, I watched the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala with great fascination. There was notable drama in the senior men’s race when Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor of Kenya out-paced Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegai at the tail end of the race. Cheptegai set pace for the better part of the race but ran out of stream within about 500 metres of finishing the race, then Kamworor won. Cheptegai finished a distant 30th place.

I was thinking about this episode in relation to education and progression. There are top students who perform well and finally join universities.

Then there are those who go to various technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions such as Kenya Institute of Management and ultimately work their way to the university if that is their goal.

The fact that these group of students may have scored lower grades does not mean that they should not harbour dreams of joining universities or becoming successful global citizens.

Just like in the analogy of the marathon, these students can consistently and progressively work their way up and pursue their life goals without feeling condemned.

Success should not be a reserve for the top student. There are many examples of the best innovators in the world who were not ‘A’ students but went ahead to bequeath the world of timeless solutions that remain relevant into the future such as Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, among others.

It is time Kenyans embraced TVET qualifications as having equal prestige with university education and give graduates from these institutes a chance to develop innovative solutions for the marketplace.

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