Haron Asiago, Industrial Liaison Officer with Kisii National Polytechnic, checks out the tools being used by VIU Carpentry students Natalie Speirs, left and Karly Atkinson during a whirlwind tour of the Nanaimo Campus’s trades programs.

November 23, 2017 - 12:45pm

Representatives from Kisii National Polytechnic visited VIU’s Nanaimo Campus last week as part of a three-year partnership

Faculty and staff from Kisii National Polytechnic in western Kenya got a whirlwind tour of Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) trades programs last week.

Five faculty and staff members from Kisii spent a week observing various VIU trades programs. The delegation was here as part of a partnership between the two institutions to develop a more hands-on curriculum for Kisii’s building trades programs that is better-aligned with industry needs.

“We want to develop a curriculum that can be flexible so it matches the requirements of the building industry,” explains Athanas Mokaya, Principal of Kisii National Polytechnic. “The youth unemployment rate is high, and at the same time it is a struggle to find skilled tradespeople in a number of areas. We need a lot more industry input to ensure the training matches the needs.”

The middle class in Kenya is growing and there’s a strong demand for new housing, he added.

Peter Nyaribo, head of Kisii’s Building and Civil Engineering Department, was taking close inventory of the equipment available to VIU students. Kisii’s building trades programs include certificates in carpentry, plumbing and masonry, and diplomas in building technology and civil engineering. He plans to lobby for better equipment for his own workshops, as they currently use mainly hand tools.

“If we have this kind of equipment, our students will be better prepared to go out and work,” he says.

Deanna Littlejohn, an Instructor in VIU’s Electrical Program, says even if students end up getting work with an employer that still uses mainly hand tools, if they have experiences with power tools, they will be able to advocate for more efficient equipment on the work site, improving industry standards from the bottom up.  

While at VIU, the Kenyan delegation also learned about applied research and interactive teaching approaches from VIU faculty members in Trades and Engineering. The group also spent time with the University’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, attended a program advisory committee meeting for the automotive department to see how the University interacts with industry, and met with the University’s Planning and Analysis office to determine how to test whether programs are meeting industry requirements.

Aside from creating a more hands-on curriculum that better meets the building industry’s needs, another area of focus is on increasing the number of women entering the trades.

“We struggle with that in Canada as well, so we’ll be working together on strategies that benefit both institutions,” says Darrell Harvey, International Projects Coordinator. “There’s tons of two-way learning happening.”

The visit was part of a three-year, $1.67-million partnership through the Kenya Education for Employment Program (KEFEP), an initiative of Colleges and Institutions Canada (CICan) funded by Global Affairs Canada. VIU is working in consortium with Humber College, Durham College and Selkirk College to develop and enhance training programs in mechanical engineering, renewable energy and building technology at three Kenyan colleges.

A team from VIU went to Kenya last June to lay the groundwork for the work ahead. Before coming to VIU, the Kenyan delegation spent a week learning about leadership and change management, gender mainstreaming and environmental sustainability with VIU’s partner, Durham College.

Over the next year, VIU and Kisii faculty will work together on curriculum development and equipment acquisition. After that, the partners start training Kisii faculty and staff in hands-on, practical teaching techniques, and how to use the new equipment.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: Jenn.McGarrigle@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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