Overcoming barriers and stereotypes: Social inclusion in Technical and Vocational Education and Training

According to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) strategic plan 2018-2022, Kenya experiences massive inequalities in access to TVET, especially in regard to participation of females and persons with disabilities. In Kenya, according to the MOE, the number of women enrolled in TVET programmes is 39.41 per cent, five per cent of whom are in vocational areas such as engineering and construction, while 95 per cent are in ICT-related courses. These numbers indicate that fewer women enroll in TVET compared to the targets set by the Ministry requiring at least a 50 per cent enrolment and access for both men and women.

Factors inhibiting gender participation in TVET-related courses have always been similar in developing and developed countries, ranging from social, cultural and institutional to curricula-related issues. A multitude of social and cultural norms can influence the choices of young women to venture or not into the fields of Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Call for application poster, designed by FilmAid.

In addition, persons with disabilities have been largely excluded from TVET due to beliefs and attitudes that have formed a culture of exclusion and segregation. In Kenya, the number of persons with disabilities enrolled in TVET is less than two per cent with seven per cent of those enrolled having mental and intellectual disabilities. These barriers are further reinforced through structural hurdles, such as TVET admission criteria which are not favourable towards persons with mental disabilities and deficient policies that do not recognize such disabilities nor the importance of equal access to employment and decent work.

Through the PROSPECTS partnership in Kenya, the ILO has been proactive in identifying discrimination in all its forms and addressing inequalities in its interventions. For example, in partnership with Turkana and Garissa Counties, the East African Institute of Welding (EAIW) and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), a dual learning industrial welding training programme with equitable access criteria and deliberately targeting young women and persons with disabilities has been developed and is currently being implemented. The programme worked closely with Film Aid Kenya and Humanity and Inclusion for the mobilisation and recruitment of students and the development of inclusive materials tailored to the needs of women and persons with disabilities. These focused efforts led to the enrolment of fourteen female students and two students with disabilities. Below are some of the reactions of these students on their enrolment in the programme.

Youths from Kalobeyei reading a poster in Village 1.

I was really happy to learn of this training opportunity by ILO. Although I have finished my secondary school education, I haven’t had a chance to advance my studies. I am delighted to know that girls are also encouraged to apply for such skills training despite our community’s view that such training is for boys. I will complete my application and hopefully follow this programme if I am successful.”

Mandek, Hagarbul host community, Dadaab Sub-County.

I am happy to join this training to get the skills to better my life. My father passed away when I was young and my family is poor, no-one has a job. My dream has always been to attend this kind of training. Back at home, there are no Somali women learning such skills and even here at the institute I am the only Somali female student.”

Rhama Salat Dakane from Dadaab.

Although I am disabled, this has not affected my training and I am doing just as well as the other students. I would like to say to other persons with disabilities that this course is not as difficult as people out there say it is. As the saying goes: ‘Disability is not inability’ and this course is about what you are willing to put into it and focusing on what you can do. I would like to ask the ILO to give us more opportunities like this, and to help us upgrade our certificate to a diploma.”

Jeremiah Etabo Kapoa, Turkana South.

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