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Accepted paper:

Improving use of evidence to increase impact of TVET in Kenya


John Mugo (Zizi Afrique)
Lucy Heady (Education Sub Saharan Africa)

Paper long abstract:

Kenya's TVET sector has witnessed massive reforms and expansion since 2013, driven by government and a growing community of investors, including Kenya's private sector. As a result, the enrolment to TVET has increased from 275,000 youth in 2017 to 506,00 in 2019, not counting the numerous youth training initiatives outside of the mainstream system. While this expansion is commendable, the system carries the burden of past failures to improve job prospects for young people. In these circumstances, two challenges stand out: 1. ensuring that TVET adapts to equip youth with the capabilities demanded for work and life today and into the future, and 2. optimizing the transition to employment to reduce the prevailing youth frustration. If no measures are taken to improve the employability of students, and appreciation of skills and qualifications of graduates by employers, training more youth may just increase youth frustration in 'qualifications without work'. The unprecedented investment of young people's and tax payers' time and money into the TVET system will all have been for nothing. This paper proposes to explore this complexity, sharing ideas and results of a new initiative seeking to link evidence to policy and practice for greater youth employment upon graduation from TVET. The collaboration is between Zizi Afrique, a Kenya-based not-for-profit, the TVET Authority in Kenya, and Education Sub-Saharan Africa, a UK-based non-profit. The initiative has four faces: 1. the collation and synthesis of evidence on TVET, 2. the animation of evidence on youth through a digital platform, 3. the strengthening of local capacities for evidence generation and evidence consumption, and, 4. the emergence of an evidence ecosystem that can help various stakeholders, in particular trainers and employers, understand each other's needs and increase smooth transitions into work for young people. The paper will first share evidence on youth training and employment in Kenya, looking at the unanswered questions of the disconnect between youth, training and employment. The paper will then share the initiative's theory of change, linking improved generation and use of evidence to better outcomes for young people. It will cover the structures put in place and the progress achieved within a few months, and expose the thinking and the results to scholarly scrutiny. The paper will lastly share an agnostic interpretation of Africa's future, under the scenario of strong African leadership, a posture of learning and leapfrogging, and utilizing evidence to accelerate policy and practice.

panel G41
Youth employment, knowledge and the labour markets; knowledge and society [initiated by Edukans with INCLUDE, ISCTE-IU Lisbon and Advance Afrika (Kampala, Uganda]]