The Rwanda Polytechnic and Workforce Development Authority has developed a proposition that, once endorsed by cabinet and its beneficiaries, will implement bachelor and master programs deemed to be professional degrees for students of Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Students have been studying TVET in accordance with the TVET qualifying structure from level 1 to level 7.
While Level 6 was regarded for a TVET diploma and Level 7 for a TVET Advanced Diploma (as A1), Level 8 and Level 9 are respectively bachelors and Masters.
Ernest Nsabimana, who submitted last week’s recommendation, said Rwanda TVET Qualification Framework needs to be amended to include Level 8 and Level 9.
He said TVET organizations are restricted to offering advanced diploma training programs that are a obstacle to human resource professional development.
“Once approved, Bachelor of technology and master of technology should be offered by Polytechnics but we need qualified trainers. TVET professional degrees will offer an innovative approach to education by taking students beyond textbook learning to highly advance hands-on experiences through laboratories, workshop and industrial work experience,” he said.
He said that in fields such as industrialization, information technology, computer communication technologies, electrical technology, artificial intelligence, power plants and energy production, biotechnology and agro processing technology, TVET professional degrees are required.
Other fields include building, water, wastewater and hygiene, railway, airport construction, geospatial technology, transportation and logistics, production, creativity design, hospitality, among many others.
“We need selected innovative students, develop entrepreneurship skills needed to improve technological solutions, promote industry based training, prepare TVET schools managers and TVET trainers at the highest level,” he emphasised
He clarified that a technology master (or level 9) could have 180 credits while a technology bachelor could have 120 credits and added that a postgraduate diploma in leadership and management of TVET schools might have 60 credits.
“They will be provided by IPRCs and accredited private polytechnics while postgraduate diploma and TVET trainer certificate by Rwanda TVET Training Institute,” he said.
James Gashumba, Rwanda Polytechnic’s Vice Chancellor, said the first TVET graduates with an advanced diploma would be enrolled in a bachelor’s and technology master’s degree in the academic year 2020/2021.
However, this will only occur if it is endorsed by various stakeholders and beneficiaries ‘ cabinet. To teach the first intake, this will involve the importation of skilled trainers.
But, he stressed that the graduates with advanced diplomas must have worked in sectors for at least two to three years before going for a bachelor’s degree.
“We have to pay attention so that all students do not think of running to high level of bachelor and master’s degrees. That is why only 20 per cent of graduates with advanced diploma who are the best will be admitted to bachelor’s degree and then master’s degree,” he said adding that there are currently between 6,000 and 7,000 graduates with advanced diploma since 2010.
He said the initiative could answer to obstacles whereby present educators at TVET colleges had earlier learned in a more theory-dominated scheme.
TVET schools have over 5,000 teachers.
Dr Theodore Habimana, WDA’s Quality TVET Specialist Standards and Guidelines, said the programs will be available to trainers by 2024 as the number of TVET students will increase, with 60% of 450,000 ordinary students joining TVET School.
Eng. Kazawadi Papias, an Entrepreneur, said that TVET bachelor and master’s programs are timely in view of the fact that, in the past, most polytechnic graduates with advanced diplomas have sought such degrees from universities in Rwanda and elsewhere in the region, adding that the programs must be aligned with the skills required by local industries.