Transcript of Audio Clip Recorded December 7, 2020

Leo Mutuku:

No, no, no, like, TVETs [Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges] have gone through like these periods of importance and emphasis and that's important to emphasize. And I think previously when those like the great migration to other countries for investor education, that really was how Kenya sort of developed through that elitist view of in terms of high quality education in the sciences.

But then came in 8-4-4 [Kenyan education system] and this whole NYS--the National Youth Service--drafting. And the idea was that not everyone could get into those elitist schools and we had such limited university capacity so there was need for more technical education and especially to be able to resource factories and whatnot. So think about the export EPZs [Export Processing Zones], the textile industry...

And so there was when the TVETs became more prominent like to meet the gaps in university. But also TVET education or what I'd call that technical kind of education was incorporated into basic education.

So you'd find like in primary school, we have home science and agriculture, which like, I mean...so even if you dropped out after class eight [8th grade], you could do those business studies, those home science and agriculture, those arts and craft with an emphasis on crafts, cuz there was carpentry, etc. not how it's like, oh, fancy DIY, you know, but very hardcore carpentry stuff. And then when you went to high school, you found units on electricity as like an actual course you take for your KCSE [Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education] and agriculture again, home science, carpentry. So there was all this like trying to incorporate this technical education so that whether you left school in class eight or you left school in form four [high school senior], really you could get a job anywhere.

And so then, just around the time I was finishing primary school, then it became that that was too heavy. And that the focus should be more on just knowledge production and critical thinking, which I don't know how far they got with emphasizing that in education. So they actually cut down the examinable subjects for KCSE. So there was less of an emphasis. And then, because this is also around the same time Kibaki became president, so early 2000s.
And it became less emphasis on technical education throughout the 8-4-4 curriculum, including turning a lot of these TVETs and technical polytechnics--that's what they're called--into universities.

So they started formalizing a lot of this technical education into acceptable degree programs. And so of course that also reduced like how many people could actually qualify for that because once you move it from a polytechnic to a university, the minimum academic requirements to join also increases. So then again, you have people who are not joining these institutes of high learning. But now, like in the last I think five or six years I've been seeing TVETs making a comeback. And especially through the big four agenda, trying to push for construction and manufacturing to be one of the pillars of the economy.

So I feel like parallel of course to this other tech story being told, and how like you wanted to industrialize, because I read through the India paper, you wanted to industrialize the approach to development. There has been like all this like tension, not tensions but like changes in policy from period to period to reflect government's priorities at that point.


Creative Commons Licence

Created Date

December 7, 2020 - 10:30am


Contributed date

January 15, 2023 - 6:36pm

Critical Commentary

This is a transcript of an audio clip recorded during a Zoom call between the co-authors Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku which took place on December 7, 2020. As part of conceptualizing their paper, the co-authors were discussing technical education in Kenya over the decades and in this clip, the shifting emphasis and investments in TVET [Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges].

Find the audio clip associated with this transcript here.


This transcript is part of the source data for the article "Becoming an African Techpreneur: geopolitics of investments in “local” Kenyan entrepreneurship" by Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, published in the journal Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.

Find the full associated data here.

Explore other data published as part of the STS Spaces and Places Thematic Collection.



Group Audience


Cite as

Leonida Mutuku and Angela Okune, 7 December 2020, "2020 DEC 7. TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO CLIP ON TVETS in Kenya", contributed by Leo Mutuku and Angela Okune, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 January 2023, accessed 31 March 2023. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/2020-dec-7-transcript-audio-clip-tvets-kenya