- The event brings together experts, researchers, and thought leaders from around the world to explore the crucial role of science, technology, and innovation in driving sustainable development.
- The government is also partnering with other countries to enable properly skilled students to work abroad.
- To enable employment, TVETs should ensure that their programs are relevant and address market needs through quality training.
In today’s developed world in interconnectedness in academia, research conferences serve as critical platforms for scholars, scientists, and experts to present their latest findings, exchange knowledge, and engage in meaningful discussions.
These conferences are often the epicenter of groundbreaking discoveries, innovative ideas, and collaborative opportunities across various disciplines.
On June 28-30, 2023, Kisii National Polytechnic (KNP) hosted the 2nd International Research Conference on the Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation for Sustainable Development, a three-day hybrid event.
It was presided over by Dr. Esther Mworia, Principal Secretary, Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Different TVETS were represented.
The event brings together experts, researchers, and thought leaders from around the world to explore the crucial role of science, technology, and innovation in driving sustainable development.
Exhibitions by innovators from different institutions of learning and research graced the event, making it lively and practical.
As we navigate the complex challenges of our time, it is imperative to harness the power of these disciplines to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.
Daniel Nyariki, KNP Chief Principal, said, “The theme of the conference calls for all of us to come together on matters so crucial to our country, Kenya, and the world at large.”
Mr. Nyariki stated that the conference has brought people together to discuss climate change action, food security, industry, and the challenges affecting TVETs, particularly the link between TVET and the industry, among others.
KNP acknowledges the role of research and innovation in driving sustainable development, and this event’s theme was The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation for Sustainable Development.
“This conference provides a platform for meaningful expression through research presentations, innovation exhibitions, skills contests, keynote addresses, and panel discussions to facilitate conversations on sustainable development,” explained Mr. Nyariki.
He emphasized that the conference supports the nation’s drive for full industrialization, which is the primary goal of sustainable development.
Innovating for sustainability
According to the PS Mworia, science, technology, and innovation have emerged as driving forces behind the quest for sustainable development and the future.
“Kenya, like many other countries, faces significant challenges in areas such as food security, youth unemployment, climate change, and resource insecurity.
These issues require innovative and sustainable solutions, and science and technology play a vital role in unlocking the transformative power needed to address these challenges effectively,” she explained.
She urged all to leverage scientific renovation to address some of the issues bedeviling Kenya.
Technology connects scientific knowledge to practical application, enabling us create sustainable solutions to unprecedented problems.
She urged the participants to use technology and its innovations for sustainable development. The PS added that TVETs are at the core of the government’s efforts to develop Kenya.
Mode of training
“My department is challenged with the responsibility of skilling young people through competency-based education to produce graduates competent enough locally, regionally and internationally,” she explained.
She tasked all TVET principals with re-crafting and breaking the curricula into skill sets.
The PS directed that KNP will be an examination and assessment center for all youth training in the region.
Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) for TVETs has also been restored.
It will be an external examiner for national polytechnics, checking what they are doing to do away with the issues of issuing sub-standard certificates.
The government has also partnered with Germany to admit trainees from the industry, trained with industry and in the industry for the industry.
The government is also partnering with other countries to enable properly skilled students to work abroad.
They are linking some institutions with international institutions for dual certification.
The PS urged that the role of science, technology, and innovation in sustainable development is undeniably crucial.
They form the cornerstones upon which Kenya can build a better future.
“Through scientific inquiry, harnessing technological advancements, and fostering innovation, we have the power to create an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and economically prosperous nation,” PS Mworia said.
Moderated by different scholars, the event saw numerous research papers presented by the delegates in reference to the theme of the conference.
Jane Wangari, a Lecturer at Nyandarua National Polytechnic, presented a research paper on Gender Inclusivity in Food and Agribusiness Sustainability.
In her findings, it was observed that there was no inclusivity in decision-making, and there was a lack of technology and innovation.
She recommended that partnership and collaboration among government agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector would enable inclusivity.
Fred Odota of Nyandarua Polytechnic presented on Industry, Academia and Partnership in Social Sustainable Development.
The research paper focused on the industry’s role in the Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET) curriculum development process.
CBET emphasizes the acquisition of skills.
The findings revealed that CBET promotes knowledge, skills, and work behavior. However, there is a significant training gap and mismatch between the industry and TVET institutions, particularly in curricula development.
The research suggests that the industry should be fully involved in CBET curriculum development.
TVET institutions need to develop frameworks that enable them to train for the industry, to the industry, and in the industry.
Moreover, more trainers should be equipped with additional skills in competency-based assessment to ensure the effective delivery of knowledge and skills.
Climate change action toward sustainable development
According to Dr. Jusper Omwenga, Principal, Environmental Research and Climate Change at NEMA, Kenya is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030.
Ann Omoyo, in charge of climate change in Kisii County, recommends the following to TVETs in terms of adaptation: Learning how to live with impacts; mitigation, which involves increasing carbon storage and carbon sinks; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and improving ecosystems.
These can be achieved through waste management, such as decomposing, using solar energy, environmental management, including afforestation, and implementing innovative ideas in agricultural production like fishing and poultry.
Additionally, engaging in Black Soldier Fly farming, which produces poultry feeds and manure, can help mitigate climate change effects.
Dr. Bernard Maake, Director of e-learning Kisii University, says Industry 4.0 encompasses various cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and big data analytics.
“If we fail to seize the opportunities presented by these technologies, we may find ourselves enslaved, much like our great-grandparents were,” Dr. Maake urged.
It is crucial for young people to embrace the possibilities offered in all these categories.
He encouraged all the TVETs to embrace Industry 4.0.
We need to stay informed about the latest advancements so that we can make informed decisions and ensure that any unethical practices are rectified.
We must protect our technologies, societies, communities, and cultures while simultaneously leveraging them for the benefit of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The County Secretary and Head of Public Service, James Ndabo, representing the governor, announced that Kisii County and KNP have partnered in various ways.
Kisii County greatly benefits from innovative skills, particularly in agriculture and health, as students address the societal issues prevalent therein.
Additionally, the county government has collaborated with KNP, providing them with machines and support for brick and cabro production.
The county intends to purchase these materials to pave roads and streets.
In the plenary session, Raveenthiran Vivekanantharasa, a lecturer at The Open University of Sri Lanka, virtually presented his talk on Strengthening the responsiveness of TVETs towards sustainable development.
According to Mr. Vivekanantharasa, through TVETs encompasses both initial skills and development and various forms of real skills and upskilling.
Thus, through TVETs, youths are reskilling and upskilling in various countries.
TVETs are connected with three domains: technology, learning, and work, and are connected to sustainable development.
According to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO), “TVET is considered a value-added portion of a general education that integrates technology, sciences, practical skills, attitudes, understanding, and information relating to employment in different economic and social sectors.”
They also keep pace with technology, people are more adapted to technology through the concept of TVETs, which are used for self-development.
Another importance of TVETs is economic development, which is connected with sustainable development.
TVETs bridge the skills gap in the workforce and provide real opportunities and lifelong learning.
According to Mr. Vivekanantharasa, quality education in TVETs can lead to sustainable development because it’s connected with three main ideas: knowledge and understanding, skills and application, and values and attributes.
He revealed that TVETs also face some challenges, like inadequate learning facilities, problematic industry linkage, and lack of enough trained TVET teachers’ skill development.
Linking TVET graduates to industry
According to Stephen Kang’ara, Partnership Manager at Generation Programme, Kenya, the conversation surrounding TVETs and their role in producing skilled, competitive, and adaptable graduates has been prominent in the last two decades.
Mr. Kang’ara states, “Global statistics show that in the most developed countries, TVETs have played a critical role in job creation.”
He emphasizes that over one million youths enter the labor market annually, and TVETs should focus on properly packaging the learners to produce a sufficient quantity and quality of graduates.
This is crucial because employers are seeking graduates with quality skills and competencies that they can demonstrate to potential employers.
To enable employment, TVETs should ensure that their programs are relevant and address market needs through quality training.
This can be achieved by integrating soft skills, essential employability skills, and technical skills.
TVETs should also organize career mentorship programs with industries.
Industries, on the other hand, have a role to play by offering job opportunities to graduates, providing career talks to trainees, participating in the training process through curriculum development and review, and sharing industry information and emerging trends.
Mr. Kang’ara emphasizes the need for TVETs and industries to form partnerships.
Additionally, the government should fund TVETs adequately.
Nyakoe George, the conference Coordinator, thanked all delegates for making this year’s conference a success.
He noted that all cross-cutting themes in the conference were well covered by various stakeholders. He assured everyone of many more better conferences to come next year.
Tom Olango, Regional TVET Director, and the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony, thanked KNP for ensuring that international conferences are held there.
He highlighted that it projects the institution positively as a national polytechnic.
Mr. Olango urged the TVET institutions to unite and organize workshops for students to be taught how to write proposals and make presentations during such conferences.
He also encouraged the students to engage with Skills Initiative Africa and connect with them because the project is keen on linking young people in Africa, enabling them to share best practices in their respective countries.