STEPHENVILLE, NL –
College of the North Atlantic (CNA) has just solidified its presence in Kenya by entering a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will work toward improving employment opportunities through revamping current education initiatives in that country.
During a recent visit, CNA Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Liz Kidd joined Elizabeth Vincent, manager with CNA’s International Business Development (IBD) Division, and Marty Madore, program developer with the college’s School of Industrial Trades, in meetings with officials and partners in Nairobi to seal the deal March 13.
Known as the Kenya Education for Employment Project (KEFEP), the initiative is a five-year project (2016–2021) implemented by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) in close collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Education in Africa, through the State Department of Technical and Vocational Training. The initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The overall project will benefit more than 1,000 students from 10 polytechnic schools, as well as equip these facilities with state-of-the-art equipment in order to develop the skills of instructors in the region.
CNA’s involvement will be a collaboration with New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), and will see the creation of national competency-based occupational standards in automotive technology and industrial automation. The partnership is with two Kenyan national polytechnics - Kebete in Nairobi and North Eastern in Garissa.
CMC Kenya, east Kenya third largest automotive organization, which trains people from Dubai, Tanzania to South Africa, and Linking Industry with Academia (LIWA), a collaborative group that connects industry to the education system, they are involved with training instructors and factory workers along with extensive work in designs and research, are on board with the deal. So too is Lemur Monitors, located in Mount Pearl, NL, which has donated equipment, and has committed to supporting the project as an official partner. All of these business engagements combined will enable the college, as well as the province, to expand their networks and further gain international recognition.
Two programs were identified based on their unique needs and industry – mechatronics will be housed in Kabete and Garissa will support the automotive industry. CNA’s responsibility is to gather short-term labour market information to ensure the two regions were what was needed for the project, and the second step is to carve out with the stakeholders in Kenya how the project is going to work.
“We have to go in to the market and work with them to revamp their curriculum so that it reflects the industrial needs and that of a graduate,” Vincent explained. “When a graduate comes out of one of these programs, we call them work-ready grads, which means the employer doesn’t now have to take them and re-train them so that they can work as required and needed.”
CNA and NBCC are showing the polytechnics how they engage industry, benefits of having industry work with educational institutions, and also highlighting to industry the benefit they will see by investing in education. They will also take the curriculum and either revise it or write a completely new curriculum ensuring that it meets all the Canadian elements and will be reviewed by stakeholders.
Long road to here
Getting to this point wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The MOU has been the product of a lot of groundwork for the CNA’s IBD division, CICan, Global Affairs Canada, as well as other educational institutions in Canada and Kenya.
A Request for Proposals was issued in conjunction with Global Affairs Canada and CICan. There are two types of agreements: bilateral, which mean government to government; or contributions, which means CNA will contribute 25 per cent in-kind to another institution.
Vincent and her team are no strangers to Africa, as they had already secured a project, in partnership with Marine Institute, in Tanzania two years ago.
CNA chose to partner with NBCC for this initiative given that they had previously worked on projects together in a small capacity in its Guyana, South America endeavour.
A detailed proposal was submitted, and part of the process from Kenya’s side is interviewing the partners. CNA and NBCC were shortlisted and had to be vetted by the Kenya partners, who then made the final decision.
Different ways of doing things
That’s when Marty Madore went to work on the ground with officials in Kenya to get the project to where it needs to be. Part of the groundwork for that is preparing employees for travel to Kenya – cross-cultural training, vaccinations, safe environment to travel, what’s covered, drivers, transportation, accommodations and the list goes on.
Because Garissa sits near Somalia, travel to the area isn’t permitted; therefore, whenever work has to take place in Kenya, partners in Garissa are brought to Nairobi.
Madore explains they do things differently in Kenya.
“When making industry contacts, you can’t just walk up to a dealership and say you want to speak with the manager. In Kenya, you need an official letter with a government-endorsed stamp on it, which succeeded in opening some doors. CICan helped us generate those letters, and we went to dealerships, like CMC Motors, Toyota, Nestle, and other engineering companies and through those discussions and meetings over multiple days, we’ve got some partnerships forged.
“In most cased the faculty there has never worked in a practical industrial environment,” said Madore. “They went to grade school, secondary school, and went straight to college teaching. They have limited experience in industry. We took them along with us to the meetings, and we showed them how to open doors to these big companies in order to employ graduates of their programs, and avail of mentorships for the faculty.”
Industry in Kenya is open to investing in education, he says. There is a population of 47 million, with the 50 per cent of the people being between the ages of 15 and 24.
“They are ready for change, and they understand that they need to have a standardize series of occupational outcomes that they don’t have now. One method of training will be standard for all. They have a large emerging youth group that is ready for education. Now is the time to standardize some of these occupations. They have a vision document, which their government has the foresight to see the problem now, and they are dealing with it by implementing these projects through the Canadian government to correct some of these areas of concern.”
The benefits are even more far-reaching than that, adds Vincent. CNA is providing professional development from an international perspective for its own faculty and staff to bring to the college’s own classrooms and help its graduates become more worldly citizens.
“Our social responsibility, as Newfoundlander and Labradorians, is to ensure we are helping developing countries help themselves, and allow for an exchange between industry and faculty both here and there, where synergies are developed for future projects,” she said. “There is also a brand recognition for CNA on an international stage and our graduates are tied to that. These projects lead to other initiatives, spinoffs, MOUs and opportunities for our own people so that everyone wins.”
College of the North Atlantic