Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kitwe Vocational Training Center And Its Operational Challenges

By Paul Shalala
Entrance to KVTC workshop -Pictures by Kelvin Kawana

The intention was good but the implementation veered completely off course.

The idea was to train mechanics, electricians, metal fabricators and other specialists in like fields.

And that is why Kitwe Vocational Training Center (KVTC) was established.

KVTC was established in 1998 at the workshop for the now defunct United Bus Company of Zambia in Kitwe’s Racecourse area.

The institution enherited a state of the art workshop which over the years has been under utilized.

The institution is not living according to its ideals.

Over the years, equipment has run down, dust has gathered and the relevance of the institution is slowly being lost.

The students’ hostels are a sorry site.

Cooking is done on an element mounted on bricks.

Illegal electrical connections are the order of the day.
This is were male students cook their meals

Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo toured the institution last week and she was shocked with what she found.

In the male student’s hostel, she found first year students chatting on the veranda which is used as a kitchen.

She took to task the Principal Jolly Chembe for not providing proper cooking utensils and cleaning the hostels.

“Honourable Minister I didn’t know about this problem here. I wish the Maintenance Officer was here to tell me why this place is this dirty,” said Mr Chembe.

In the workshop, equipment is not properly stored.

Dust accumulates on the items used for lectures because most of them are not properly secured.

Clearly, KVTC is a mess.

“There is no order here. This institution is too dirty. If students are not taught to clean after they cook, they will also go with that habit in their homes. What society will we have?” said Professor Luo when she addressed members of staff and management.

However, in terms of potential, this institution can make money.
Higher Education Minister Prof Nkandu Luo talking to students  

In 2013, it won a contract and supplied 11,000 desks to the Ministry of General Education.

The institution wants more of such contracts to offset the K2.5 million debt it has accumulated.

“We have in the past few months submitted two separate tenders to supply 15,000 single sit desks and another 15,000 double sit desks to two separate institutions. We are asking for government to deliberately give such contracts to institutions like ours so that we can meet our financial obligations,” said KVTC Board Chairman Wilbroad Chisunka.

Problems at KVTC are many.

Workers called off their two weeks strike a few days ago.

They are owed their January and February salaries.

The institution also wrote to the Nkana Water and Sewerage Company to disconnect it from its water supply due to its failure to settle bills.

Currently, the institution uses water from boreholes.

In all these problems, government officials cite leadership as a contributing factors to the institution’s challenges.

“The board here at KVTC must start thinking outside the box. They will have themselves to blame if they are dissolved. This institution has the capacity to raise its own funds without relying on government grants,” said newly appointed Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu when he toured the institution two weeks ago to familiarize himself with its operations.

Inside the KVTC workshop
Due to all these challenges, even the student enrolment for 2017 has dropped drastically.

The institution has a student capacity of 600 but only 300 have enrolled this year.

In terms of accommodation, KVTC has a bed capacity of 137 but only 93 students are in boarding.

Despite all these challenges, the good news is that the Ministry of Higher Education has increased its annual grant allocation to the institution.

For this financial year, the Ministry has added K500,000 to the institution’s grant which may help to turn around things at KVTC.

Hopefully, the institution will soon stand tall and weather the storm.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blogger also did this story as a documentary and it aired on TV1's Morning Live program on 23 February 2017. The YouTube link to the video is here: KVTC Documentary

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