Regional Flagship TVET Institutes enhance regional Integration through student and staff exchange Programmes

Regional Flagship TVET Institutes enhance regional Integration through student and staff exchange Programmes

By Julius Kasuva

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutes in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania have demonstrated that regional integration can be achieved through purposeful and intentional student and staff exchange programmes. The exchange programmes were part of implementing the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) with funding from the World Bank.

For instance, Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (KCNP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute of Transport (NIT) in Tanzania in 2022. This has enabled the two Regional Flagship Institutes exchange their students to pursue short courses. On 19thFebruary 2023, NIT send 23 students to KCNP to pursue a short course in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) & Solar Water Heating course, a programme which culminated with a graduation on 16th March 2023. On the other hand, KCNP sent 22 students to the NIT on 12th March 2023, to pursue a short course in Cargo Tallying, a programme which came to an end on 6th April 2023 after a graduation ceremony organized by NIT.

KCNP and Arusha Technical College (ATC) in Tanzania also enhanced their collaboration through a student exchange programme. On 11th March 2023, the two RFTIs exchanged their students at the Horohoro border and each left with 20 students from the sister institution. The students from KCNP pursued a short course in Car Air Conditioning while those from ATC pursued a short course in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) & Solar Water Heating course at KCNP. The programme ended with a graduation for the students from ATC on 6th April 2023.

Arusha Graduation ceremony

Students from the Arusha Technical College during their Graduation Ceremony

The training in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) & Solar Water Heating course, equipped the trainees with the latest knowledge on how to install, maintain and repair a wide range of solar heating equipment as well as understand the theory behind solar thermal power and maintain solar domestic hot water systems. Additionally the course will enable the trainees work successfully in the renewable and solar industry  sector locally in Tanzania and also internationally.

The student exchange program gave the trainees from KCNP, NIT and ATC a great opportunity to interact and learn cultures of their counterparts in Kenya and Tanzania. This will enable them become objective and appreciate each other’s cultures and customs. Through the exchange program, the trainees got regional exposure where they got to learn ways of the region that would open up their minds and make them capable of thinking out of the box. They mingled with students of different cultural communities something that gave them a regional perspective both academically and socially. It will also help them communicate with people across cultures confidently in future.

KCNP students during their Graduation at NIT-min

KCNP students during their Graduation at NIT

Through the exchange programme, the trainees were able to develop self-confidence in them by way of learning in a new environment and living away from their home in another country. These are life skills that will help them fit into the global work environment with ease and also make them feel confident when interacting with people from different countries

Trainees from ATC visit Malindi Solar Power-min

Trainees from ATC visit Malindi Solar Power – Globeleg during an industry study sessionThe Solar Power plant sits on 268 acre land with a total of 156,000 solar panels capable of generating 52MW.

The Solar PV students and staff benefitted a lot from this visit having a direct interaction with Solar Plant installation, tracking mechanism, DC to AC configurations with large inverter system and synchronization of the grid tire systems.

KCNP trainees and staff of ATC during the Graduation ceremony-min

KCNP trainees and staff of ATC during the Graduation ceremony

In their final day celebrations, trainees from NIT and ATC acknowledged that through the exchange program they enjoyed studying in a foreign country. This, they say, will definitely help them in future in expanding their perspective and boosting their employability in an increasingly globalized world where more and more employers are looking for trainees with international experience.

Going by their testimonies, trainees in the exchange programme from both NIT and ATC opined that they made great friends while at KCNP. They say that during their stay, they had an opportunity to meet a wide range of students and staff from different ethnic backgrounds, some of whom become lifelong friends.

The Writer is a Registrar at Kenya Coast National Polytechnic College

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