The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) has declared that it will put more emphasis on technical skills because these have a positive impact on people’s standards of living and livelihoods in general.
According to the state minister in charge of primary and secondary education, Dr Mathias Harebamungu, students from both Technical Secondary Schools (TSS) and Vocational Training Centers (VCT), are usually a step ahead of others because they acquire hands-on trainings in technical and entrepreneurial skills, including construction and building, hospitality, automobile and electricity technical services, hair care, dressmaking, plumbing, information technology and so on.
“Most of us think that having a PhD or Masters degree is what makes you a successful learned individual, No! At that level, one is a researcher, and we cannot all be researchers,” Dr Harebamungu told The Rwanda Focus during the launch of national practical exams recently.
“We have to diversify our knowledge and skills so that we can conveniently exploit our minimum resources through creating more job opportunities. That’s where technical skills come in.”
He also said MINEDUC encourages technical skills because the graduates (mostly the youth) are taught how to depend on themselves and immediately (after graduation) become productive, therefore helping a quick recovery from poverty.
“Technical skills significantly reduce poverty. Eradicating poverty requires us to create (lower) jobs that offer much with short-time trainings. Those are like dressmaking, hair care, automobile mechanics among others,” stressed Dr Harebamungu.
He gave an example of hair saloons where men pay an average of Frw 1,000 for a hair cut and women about Frw 5,000.
“If a hairdresser is visited by about 10 male customers a day, that is an average of Frw 10,000. This Frw 10,000 is an amount on which one can base and improve his living standard. That amount if well managed can help one invest in a small business and grow wealthier, therefore contributing to the country’s development and poverty eradication.”
He also talked of the construction industry, which is growing day to day in our country. “Look at the construction projects underway in the country. Some of them are employing foreigners because we do not have yet a number of individuals trained in construction and public works. Having people interested in those skills means having many Rwandans on those construction sites and as result, living standards improving,” observes Harebamungu.
“A fact about technical skills is that they provide one with competence to become a job creator rather than cob seeker through entrepreneurial skills,” stated Dr Harebamungu. “That is why we want to have at least one technical college and three TSSs in every district, and one VCT per sector. That will help us accelerate the increasing of the number of graduates in technical fields.”
According to the Workforce for Development Authority’s Deputy Director General Irene Nsengiyumva, today Rwanda has a total of 293 Vocational Training Centres (VTC) and Technical Training Centers (TTC), and two technical colleges (Kicukiro and Tumba technical colleges), with an estimated number of 16,000 graduates from TSSs a year, 5,000 from VCTs and 600 from the two technical colleges mentioned above.
“Normally six months after their graduation, 60 per cent of them are already working with different investors, and after year it’s hard for one find them not working,” Nsengiyumva said.
The national skills audit conducted in 2009 revealed that the country is short of technicians (lacks qualified technical workforce) in the public, private, and non-profit sectors by 60 per cent. “We are trying through TSSs, VCTs and Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRCs) to find a strategic response to the needs for skills development. But we are not yet there,” observed WDA’s DDG, Nsengiyumva.