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15,547 students snub universities for TVET courses

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15,547 students snub universities for TVET courses


Agnes Mercy Wahome

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) chief executive officer Agnes Mercy Wahome. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Some 15,547 candidates who scored C+ and above in the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination snubbed universities while some opted for diploma and certificate courses like plumbing in technical institutions.

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows 10,707 candidates did not apply for degree courses despite meeting the minimum qualifications.

Another 4,840 preferred Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to pursue courses in an employment market where university graduates are struggling to get jobs.

The 15,547 candidates accounted for 10.8 percent of the 143,140 students who qualified to join universities.

The growing share of students snubbing university education is a departure from the past when degrees were viewed by many as a ticket for promotion at the workplace and getting a job, pushing the enrolment numbers to record high in recent years.

This has coincided with the government’s increased focus on technical colleges in the quest to feed the labour market with craftsmen and technicians.

The revival of the technical colleges under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration was a departure from the trend set by former President Mwai Kibaki of converting mid-tier colleges into universities.

This led to an increase in the number of graduates with liberal arts degrees in a job market that was already saturated.

The KUCCPS announced on Monday it had reopened its application portal to give some 32,718 qualifying candidates a chance to reapply for preferred courses.

KUCCPS says that of the 131,833 that applied to be considered for placement in TVETs and universities, only 94,275 candidates were placed in degree courses of their choice.

“All efforts are being made to track 10,707 candidates with C+ and above who failed to apply for courses in universities ‘in the spirit of leaving no one behind’,” said KUCCPS chief executive Agnes Wahome.

Of the 747,161 candidates that sat the 2020 KCSE examination, 143,140 attained the minimum university entry qualification of C+.

More students are preferring to join TVETs, a sign that the government’s efforts to grow enrolment in the institutions is bearing fruit.

Data from the Ministry of Education shows some 2,632 candidates who scored C+ and above in the 2019 KCSE examination and qualified for placement to degree programmes opted for diploma courses in technical institutions.

The number has nearly doubled this year to 4,840 students.

Over the past four years, nearly all students scoring C+ and above were admitted to the regular university programmes, reducing the pool of learners available for private universities as well as self-sponsored degree programmes in public universities.

The drop in the number of students pursuing the parallel degree courses whose fees are based on market rates has hurt university finances, leading the institutions to freeze hiring and slow down expansion as they struggle with debt.

The government has upped funding of TVETs and allowed students from poor families to access study loans at the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

Previously, Helb loans were available only to students admitted to universities.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the number of TVET institutions increased by 10.3 percent to 2,191 in 2019 while that of universities remained unchanged at 63 during the review period.

Enrolment of students in national polytechnics rose by 35.5 percent to 102,078 in 2019, while that of public technical and vocational colleges increased by 32.8 percent to 112,110.

The 2019 Census data on formal and non-formal schooling further shows TVET education is dwarfing universities in popularity in Kenya.

While 7.1 percent of Kenyans stated to have completed middle level and TVET education, 3.5 percent had attained university level of education. About half of the population reported primary school level of education as the highest attained.

In its latest effort to boost the popularity of technical schools, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announced tax rebates for employers that offer one-year internships to TVET graduates.

“It is my hope that employers will take advantage of this incentive and give our young graduates from the TVET institutions opportunities to gain practical experience to expand their employability,” he said in his budget speech.

Kenya is pushing for 100 percent transition from primary school to secondary school in a move that offers hope for TVET institutions to keep getting students.

TVETs are seen to match well with the competency based curriculum (CBC) that is phasing out the popular 8-4-4 system.

The new system puts more emphasis on nurturing practical skills among learners as opposed to amassing certificates based on theory learning. This dovetails with the teaching in many TVET institutions.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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