The Risk to Achieving Sustainable Development Competencies: A Gendered Analysis of Access and Training Outcomes in TVET Institutions in Kenya
Education is pivotal to personal and national development. As per SDG 4, educating males and females positively improves their economic status, and expands future opportunities and choices. These benefits include increased earnings, reduced engagement in crime, delayed marriages for girls and improved life outcomes. In Kenya, access to TVET is gradually increasing, but with persistent gender disparities. The gaps are felt in access, as well as in the competences possessed by male and female students. This paper presents findings of a national study that investigated the production of skills and competences of youth through Kenya’s TVET system. The study used the whole youth development lens to examine the extent to which youth in TVET training exhibit technical, academic, cognitive and life skills, as well as values. A total of 182 TVET institutions in 9 counties participated, at all three levels of national polytechnics, technical training institutes and vocational training centres, both public and private. Results revealed stark gender disparities in access, especially in enrolment to given courses and study areas. At the same time, gender gaps are evident in the skills and competencies that the youth accumulate through training, especially in functional literacy, numeracy and digital literacy, almost always in favor of males. The inequalities vary across social-economic backgrounds and student ages, as well as parenting status, especially among female students. This paper concludes that engendering recruitment efforts is necessary in the TVET rebranding efforts, and that training methods, timing and duration require adaptation, if both male and female students are to acquire the expected sustainable development competencies. This paper recommended that the Ministry of Education should embark on various strategies including policy development, provision of scholarships to the females in order to ensure gender parity in TVET. There should be a review of the pedagogical method of training from a male centric approach to a more inclusive and a more gender sensitive one. The study also suggests encouraging and nurturing the female gender at a tender age to embrace the importance of TVET as a pathway to sustainable development.
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