implies a spirit of invention, on the scientific plane as well, in order to contribute to the deftnition of a relationship between university and society in such a way as to promote social inno-
vation. Lastly, there will also be a need to struggle against the forces both inside and outside the university which will be eager to prevent the emergence of a 'social university'.
The village polytechnic' m o v e m e n t in Kenya E. A. Wanjala Both primary and secondary levels of education in Kenya have greatly increased. This expansion of services has made it more difficult for young people to find their place in society after they leave school. In particular, the growing number of primary school leavers has become a cause of alarm for the government and other institutions concerned because there are very few jobs available and candidates often lack the skills for employment which does exist. In I966, a joint working party of the Youth Department of the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK) and the Christian Churches' Educational Association published a pamphlet After School What? on the further education, training and employment of primary school leavers. In the same year, a conference on education, employment and rural development was held at Kericho in Kenya which thoroughly examined our educational pattern as well as our employment and rural development problems. It was observed that only one-quarter of primary school leavers continued into secondary education or found employment. More and more young people every year were faced with the fact that there are not enough paid jobs to
absorb all of them, and that there are few chances for further education. The years I964 to I966 saw the completion of the changeover to a seven-year primary school course throughout the country. Previously the former African schools had given a four-year primary course, and pupils had then taken the competitive entrance examination to gain admission to the four-year intermediate schools. In the early I96OS, the competitive entrance examination for intermediate schools was abolished and more and more pupils passed through to 'Standard VII' so that each year a greater number of children completed the full primary course and came forward to take the Kenya Preliminary Examination for secondary education. It must be noted that the amount of instruction received by a child up to this examination did not materially change, since attendante in Standards I and II was formerly on a half-day basis, and was converted to a full-day when the seven-year course was introduced. Enrolment of pupils in primary schools in z966 showed an increase of z52,ooo over x963. Most of this expansion took place between I963 and i964.
E. A. Wanjala (Kenya). National Christian Council (Kenya).
x. An earlier version of this article was presented to the Unesco Meeting of Experts on Secondary Education and the World of Work in Copenhagen (Denmark), December x974.
Trends and cases
The crisis behind the crisis: population g r o w t h It was agreed on all sides that the problem of the primary school leavers in the next few years presented Kenya with a serious crisis. The longterm outlook was overwhelming, unless very determined action was taken immediately. We are convinced that the present rate of population growth, if continued unchanged, will prevent any effective rise in the general standard of living and wiU make the problem of unemployment for teenagers virtually insoluble as the years go by. The demographers tell us that Kenya has a crude birth-rate of 49 or 5~ per I,OOO population. This means that in 1962 almost 43o,ooo children were born, in 1965 almost 47o,ooo and 197o close to 55o#oo. About 7o per cent reach the age of 14, and 66 per cent live to beyond 2o. Our 14-year-old age group will thus rise to about 35o,ooo in 198o, aUowing for the increasing number of children who will survive childhood. What, then, could one do to help some of these young people? One answer was the Village Polytechnic Movement, launched by the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK) in 1966.
extensive building programme. In another place, the introduction of a water supply scheme may call for plumbers. By teaching a knowledge of poultry-keeping, you might not only give the young people a chance of earning a little money through the sale of eggs, but you improve the supply of protein in a certain area. Similarly if you teach a girl dress-making, she may start a little business and produce shirts and dresses for sale. But even if she does not do it commercially, she will be able to look after her family better with this new skill. The village polytechnic offers a variety of training courses such as carpentry, masonry, agriculture, tailoring, domestic science, plumbing, bee-keeping, baking, motor mechanics and so on. The training is geared to the specific needs and opportunities of the particular area. They do not aim at certificates and degrees but at providing skiUs which are usefnl and necessary in each area at the village level. Village polytechnics have been in operation since 1966 and some of the questions mainly asked about them are: 'What are the main difficulties facing them?' and 'What is new about the concept of Village Polytechnics?'
A local institution W h a t is a village polytechnic? It is not just another school. It is not as the name might imply, a college with sophisticated equipment and a high powered staff. Rather, one might compare it to an apprenticeship scheme of a low-cost training centre for rural occupations, aimed at meeting the local needs for primary school leavers (Kenya's primary education includes Standard I to Standard VII, children starting at the age of 6 years). Such needs may be improved methods of agriculture, or the establishment of small rural bakeries. In another area, there may be a need for the training of masons and carpenters to support an
It is important to remember that each village polytechnic is a local institution. NCCK and the Government of Kenya contribute advice and a certain amount of material and financial support. So far more than IOO Village Polytechnics have come into operation in Kenya, scattered all over the provinces, with the help of substantial grants from NCCK and the Kenya Government. Basically the local community, usually represented by the local management committee, is responsible for the running of the centre, including the preparation of a budget. A considerable amount of support must be raised locally. So far, this support comes in the form of land 415
Trends and cases
and buildings, self-help efforts in constructing buildings, and cash collections. In addition, trainees have to pay some fees ranging from U.S.$I2 to $30 per annum depending on individual centres in different localities. It is also true that the activities of each centre, building houses, making furniture, selling farm produce, etc., all add to the cemre's income. The average recurrent budget for each centre with three or four courses is U.S.$4,ooo per annum. A l t h o u g h the training aims to help the trainees to find some kinds of money-earning opportunities, it must be noted that training alone does not create jobs! A community which opens a village polytechnic may hope that the establishment of the institution will solve its unemployment problem. It is fairly easy to find some buildings, buy a few tools, collect a number of instructors and start teaching. But with training alone, you have not changed anything, unless you know what you are training for. The most important task of the Management Committee is to make a careful extended survey of the local money-making opportunities in their area. Without this, the effect on the employment problem will probably be minor. Let us look at an example. If you start a course in car mechanics in an area where there are few vehicles to be repaired, you may find after two years of training that you have a number of qualified car mechanics, who are frustrated because they have learnt something which they cannot use. Similarly, if you construct a fish pond, you must also teach the community how to prepare and eat fish. Otherwise, you have people who want to sell fish, but nobody to buy them. The Village Polytechnic Programme is consistent with the concept of self-reliance. We can no longer say 'education first, and then we shall know how to solve our problems'. It is now the other way round; first we plan the development of our community and then we train our young people in such a way that they will be able to contribute to this development. This change of attitude is necessary for c o r n 416
munities which wish to plan and carry out solutions to their own problems, instead of calling on the government for assistance. It is also necessary for the boys and girls who attend the village polytechnics. They must not ask: 'What can the village polytechnic do for me?'. They should ask themselves 'What can I do, with the help of village polytechnic training, for the development of my community?'
Kenya has a central co-ordinating committee as a national body for the co-ordination of the Village Polytechnic Programme. Its membership is derived from the government ministries of co-operatives and social services, education, agricukure, finance and economic planning, labour, NCCK, the National Freedom from Hunger Council of Kenya, the Catholic Secretariat of Kenya, etc. We have two small executive committees, which deal with project development and finances, as well as the research and training aspects of the programme respectively. Each village polytechnic has a local management committee made up of people from all walks of life in the area, a manager (who is the administrative head) and instructors qualified to instruct in the courses that are established. Most of the instructors are local people, but there are a few overseas volunteers from different countries and agencies, such as the German Volunteer Service, the Danish Volunteer Service and the Norwegian Volunteer Service. The Government of Kenya has employed qualified officers from university and experienced teachers in the provinces to help the local people to plan and develop the programme. It has established a research and training centre in Nairobi to help on the development of village technology, curricula development, surveys of work opporttmities, agricultural development and teacher training.
Trends and cases
Plans for the future The Village Polytechnic Programme is new and has not yet found its final shape and dimension. The real potential of the programme lies in its future development as an essential component of rural development. Only as a fully integrated element of rural development can the contributions of the Village Polytechnic Programme to Kenyan development be fully exploited. The long term future of the programme depends upon the emergence of such a wider context. At its present level of operation, the programme contributes significantly to employment and rural development. It justifies the efforts undertaken by Kenyan authorities and the external support lent to it. The planned expansion of the programme, indicated by the target figure of 250 village polytechnics and 22,50o trainees by 1977/78, will undoubtedly magnify some of the problems already noted in the implementation. The number of primary school leavers in need of such training is so great that there is no realistic limit to the expansion. However, employment opporumities in rural areas will have to be enhanced on a broader scale which will probably require a diversification of the curricula of village polytechnics and an expansion of activities of trainees related to the key economic activity in Kenya's agriculture.
Overseas support Though the programme is locally based, the National Christian Council of Kenya and the Kenya Government have received substantial financial support from other countries, and from international agencies. Unicef has given tools and equipment which have been distributed to village polytechnics and individual school leavers, as well as to the Centre for Research and Training. Our local staff have been assisted by foreign volunteers
with skills in masonry, tailoring, carpentry, domestic science, auto mechanics and metalworkers. We still need help from professional men and women from other countries, as well as equipment and finance. We welcome advice and criticism which will help us improve the programme. At this stage, it is d/f~cult to assess the potential impact of Village Polytechnics. Like brigades in Botswana~ they are gradually recognizing that expensive training programmes leading to wage employment cannot meet the needs of rural Africa. VP's are an encouraging sign that parents and youth will support local, low-cost projects leading to self-employment, but over-optimism would be premature, z
A number of broad, overlapping problems remain to be solved: (a) how can village polytechnics be integrated into the broader context of rural development so that employment opportunities and other crucial incentives will be generated?; (b) how to provide co-ordination and planning at the national level without stifling local initiative and self-help?; (c) how to expand the scope of village polytechnics without losing some of the flexible, individualized aspects?; (d) how to generate local financial support without relying on high fees or on oppressive apprenticeship programmes? According to David Gourts: 2 Village Polytechnics, far from being ~obvious' panaceas for large-scale rural development, are unproven instruments of anything beyond the ability to occupy a handful of primary school-leavers for a period of time. Y e t . . . as Village Polytechnics may represent the first sign of demand for fundamentally new, rurally b a s e d . . , training~ their experience may provide important lessons which can be generalized to the widespread and long-term problems of combatting unemployment. x. James R. Sheffield and Victor P. Diejomaoh, Nonformal Education in African Development, New Yorkj African-American Institute, I972. z. Some Background and Attitudes: Characteristics of Trainees~ lX!airobi, Institute for Development Studies