When results for the 1,052,364 candidates who sat for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results come out on 19th November last year, about 2,177 pupils across the nation managed to score a total mark of less than 100. This meant that the more than 2000 pupils might not be eligible to any secondary school, or may not do well if enrolled in secondary schools; hence most parents might have opted to take them to vocational training centers to acquire technical skills even after the directive by the ministry of education to ensure 100% transition.
Realistically, many parents across the country are suffering from abject poverty which in turn might have forced then to take their pupils for vocational training as opposed to taking them to secondary schools, where they would be forced to take their children for further training in colleges after completing school.
However, most vocational centers where most poor parents take their children as an alternative for secondary schools have suffered despicable neglect and are currently in a wanting state.
Vocational education is a devolved function. If the state of some facilities is anything to go by, the neglect of such crucial facilities in our society is real and a lot needs to be done in order to improve the state of education.
In Kyuso for example, the vocational training center which was started way back in 1982 targeting to impart technical skills on pupils from the whole of Mwingi north who fail to join secondary schools either due to poverty or other reasons, is currently in despicable state and only maximum focus on such a facility by the county government of Kitui would salvage the situation.
According to Elizabeth Nzuki who is the current manager of Kyuso polytechnic, the institution got an overwhelming number of students this year owing to the 100% transition directive by the ministry of education. Out of the over 200 trainees currently in the facility, about 150 joined their first year this year. This has really strained the available resources.
Challenges ranging from inadequate water, dormitories and learning materials as well as classrooms are some of the challenges facing the schools as the manager explained.
Kyuso MCA Stephen Makau, Kyuso Youth Polytechnic had been earmarked as a center of excellence during the launch of Kitui garment making industry and a total of Ksh. 15 million allocated to improve the facility into higher standards. However the funds were later withdrawn in a subsequent supplementary budget, leaving the state of the polytechnic unaltered.
Mr. Makau who beliefs that the only way of finding a lasting solution to the perennial youth unemployment which has been experienced in the country since time immemorial, is only through equipping youths with proper technical skills which would enables them to do things with their hands and earn a living.
Judith Maluki, a resident of Kyuso beliefs that improvement of local polytechnics could be the only solution to early marriages and teen pregnancies, especially among girls who miss the chance to join secondary schools dure to poor performance or lack of school fees.
Judith says that county governments out to give vocational training enough priority, as the skills offered there are of immense benefits to residents.
Isaac Syengo, another resident of Kyuso claims that he has seen many teens engage in bad behaviors, ranging to drug abuse or crime due to lack of any skills which can bring anything on the table.
He is calling upon the county government of Kitui to put the necessary measures in improving vocational training centers, in order to save the youths from the current rogue society.
If the case of Kyuso which is just a sample of what is happening across the country could be taken seriously, then the dream by the ministry of education of ensuring 100% transition from primary to secondary school, would remain just nothing but an ambitious unachievable dream