How Social Audit is Improving the Quality of Vocational Training Services in Nakuru County

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Though in the 2013-17 County Integrated Development Plan(CIDP) the county government had committed to set up a vocational training facility in every sub-county in Nakuru county, existing facilities were in poor condition. For a long time, these facilities experienced challenges that have hampered delivery of vocational training to youth in Nakuru County. These challenges include inadequate staffing, equipment, and spacing. During focus group discussions, students and community members raised concerns over students in polytechnics being required to wear a uniform that they said resembled that of high school students.  

As a result, the quality of training in the facilities within has been poor and most youths have lost interest in enrolling in vocational courses. For many youths, vocational facilities are synonymous with failure. Those who opt to acquire vocational skills prefer to do so through apprenticeships as opposed to enrolment in polytechnics. Due to this perception, low enrolment characterizes many vocational training facilities.

Social Audit Process

With funding from URAIA Trust, Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) supported citizens in three sub-counties to monitor delivery of vocational training services using social audits in 4 facilities namely Nakuru Polytechnic in Nakuru Town East, Njoro Polytechnic in Njoro Sub-county, Rongai Polytechnic and Kware Kapkwen polytechnic in Rongai Sub-county. A team of 17 social auditors was supported to gather information relating to infrastructure, equipping and staffing of the polytechnics. With CTL’s support, the social auditors subjected information gathered to validation by citizens, management of the audited facilities and selected government representatives in the respective sub-counties.

The social audit exercise revealed that vocational training facilities were grappling with inadequate infrastructure, poor condition of existing facilities, inadequate and demotivated staff, inadequate, non-functional and in some instances, obsolete equipment.  The findings of the social audit process were shared with duty bearers in the education sector during a public engagement forum held on 11th November 2017 The engagement forum was attended by representatives from the Directorate of vocational training, county youth office, principals and board members from social audited facilities, and citizens.  

Improvements

As a result of the social work undertaken in polytechnics, several improvements have been made. In Nakuru Polytechnic, construction of a storey building that had stalled for over two months resumed. The new building was meant to house additional classrooms and workshops. The management of the facility adopted a new uniform design and had new uniforms that students are now proud of made.

At the time of the social audit, boarding students were using a makeshift bathroom whose condition was poor, having no doors and roof. The computer lab had not been set up and there were 12 old non-functional computers stacked together on a table in the middle of the room. In the fashion and design department, only 5 sewing machines out of the 25 available were working. This forced students to take turns in using sewing machines during practicals and examinations.

Though the facility is yet to construct new bathrooms after the social audit exercise, the makeshift ones have been improved and have new doors and roof installed. The institution has since set up workstations in the computer lab and the old computers with 11 new ones. Further, the management in the facility has serviced all the 25 sewing machines in the fashion and design department and students no longer have to queue waiting to access machines in turns.

Mr. Solomon Muli the principal in Nakuru Polytechnic says, “The positive changes taking place in this polytechnic have made it more appealing to the youth. We have had more students enrolling and we are pleased that youth who dropped out of school for various reasons will make something out of themselves”.

In Kware Kapkwen Polytechnic, students who had enrolled for welding courses could not take practical lessons because the two-phase electricity grid connection in the facility could not support the welding machine that had been designed to use a three-phase power connection. After the social audit, the institution had the welding machine adjusted to use a two-phase connection, enabling students to take practical lessons. The facility has also acquired 15 additional computers for use by students in the computer lab.

According to Vincent Tanui, a student in Kware Kapkwen Polytechnic, these improvements have enhanced the quality of training services students receive in the polytechnic.  

“The skills we are getting in our school have improved. I was able to use a welding machine in December 2017 since I joined the welding class in August 2017. For a course like mine, practicals are important because they allow us to get a feel of the equipment and know how to control it. I am starting to feel more confident and I will be able to start my own business after I complete this course,” he says.

One of the greatest lessons we have learned through the social audit process is the importance of liaising with county officials and administrators in target facilities. This enhances ownership of the findings, gives credibility to the process, making it easy for them to give their input without fear that such information could be used against them.

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28 comments

  1. Njuguna 15 April, 2018 at 22:01 Reply

    I don’t think the youths have intentionally not attended the polytechnics coz in 9ther countries vocational training is very important. The government just don’t get what attracts youths

  2. Aleky 13 May, 2018 at 13:14 Reply

    Nilikuwa huko ile time mlikuja Nakuru Poly. Enyewe hio story ilituokolea sana, especially kwa
    story za madorm na uniform

  3. Clinton Kiprop 18 June, 2018 at 10:29 Reply

    Social audit is inevitable,it serves to unearth the ineffeciencies in whatever project targeted.Conducting social audits in polytechnics as described above did help to figure out the reasons for low turn out in polytechnics and also the drop out.I stand also to strongly oppose the ever stressed theoretical studies on courses which rather needs practical expertise.That is the major reason why the labour market is still dorminated by old personnel in the name of, “Youths lack the expertise”.The discrepancies of a regularly serviced matatu and a rarely serviced one are black and white and so do social audit in responsive polytechnics.

  4. Mwaura 1 July, 2018 at 13:13 Reply

    With such improvements, I think the youth who go through these institutions will be better placed
    to access employment opportunities. Truth be told, technical skills are more marketable these
    days

  5. Jane 10 July, 2018 at 07:08 Reply

    I think tumewachilia Kenya ndio maana we are not getting the services our taxes deserve. Social audit inakaa kitu wananchi wanawezafanya

  6. Lynet 13 July, 2018 at 17:50 Reply

    Social audit helps in the upgrading of vocational institutes for many institutions are in a poor or rather dismal state before audits is done. The practice helps a great deal to unmask the poor sides and very poor learning conditions of the youths that attend the learning facility. Some students have learnt under trying conditions before audits are done in the institutes. This audits mostly unmask these hardships and then prompt corrections. This in turn gives chance for students to learn in a condusive environment.

  7. Viv Asumba 19 July, 2018 at 13:17 Reply

    I like that something as simple as a change in uniform has resulted in the student’s pride in their institution. Goes to show that in improving quality, even the little issues matter

  8. Evanuel 23 July, 2018 at 17:41 Reply

    Many youths dread going to polytechnics because of the conditions of the institutions before the audits due to the poor state of the facilities and the physical appearance of the learning institution. The audits really help in discovering the areas that need improvement and upgrading to help the learning process get more comfortable for the youth.

  9. Nelly 20 August, 2018 at 02:33 Reply

    Alot of polytechnics i have seen they don’t even have field to play! We should do away with these village polytechnics and have speciality polytechnics like universities vijana wajaze

  10. Mike Owino 15 September, 2018 at 14:20 Reply

    Perception is a huge challemge for vocational training. Let’s face it guys, we can’t all go to universities and siku hizi jobs mob zinataka these technical skills but shida ni vile we all want office jobs. Personally, I went for a degree in electrical engineering but most of the practical things I know I learnt from a polytechnic in my area.

  11. Nick 29 September, 2018 at 14:05 Reply

    As members of the public, we should be willing to participate in more of these social audits because tutapangwa tukiwaachia wafanye vile wanataka bila kufuatilia

  12. Gakunga 18 October, 2018 at 10:35 Reply

    Can they make big ones at least kuattract na kuprovide quality services to the students other than calling them village polytechnics

  13. Mzee Kamili 14 December, 2018 at 11:50 Reply

    We killed these institutions when we showed our children university ndio masomo na polytechnics are for wenye hawashiki masomo. Which is not true at all

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