Thousands of students enrolled in vocational and technical training institutes are set to miss out on government funding after the Treasury made budget cuts in the project amid austerity drive.
The Treasury has allocated Sh300 million against a budget of Sh3.6 billion that is required to sustain the students in training.
Education secretary Amina Mohamed told Parliament that the ministry would be unable to provide Sh40,000 per student through the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).
This look set to derail plans to boost the labour market with craftsmen like plumbers, mechanics and electricians to ease employment in an economy with job seekers eyeing white collar job.
This will be a departure from the trend set by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s predecessor Mwai Kibaki of converting mid-tier colleges to universities — which has led to an increase in the number of graduates with liberal art degrees in a saturated job market.
“We presented a budget of Sh3.6 billion to provide TVET (Technical and vocational education and training) students with Helb loans but we have only been given Sh300 million,” Ms Mohamed told the Education Committee at a special sitting.
The government launched a massive drive to enrol students in the technical institutions promising to fund during training.
“The full training costs Sh56,000 and the government was to provide a capitation of Sh30,000 per student and Sh40,000 through Helb to meet the cost of training and out of pocket expenses,” Ms Mohamed told the House team.
The minister said the TVET budget was cut when the Treasury reduced the government’s spending budget by Sh55.1 billion for the year from July.
The budget adjustment was informed by amendments to tax measures including the halving of the value-added tax rate on fuel left a funding shortfall, hence the cuts in spending.
Meshack Opwora, technical education director, said only Sh762 million out of a budget of Sh2.45 billion for capitation had been released since last August to students, hurting the school operations.
About 180,000 students currently enrolled in the TVET institutions and the number is increasing following a government announcement that it would foot the training costs and provide Helb loans.