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Chinese institute offers Rwandan youth chance to learn techniques, land jobs

A student learns the operation of heavy machinery through a simulator at Forever TVET Institute in Kigali, Rwanda, July 8, 2022. (Xinhua/Ji Li)

Vocational school holds great promise for Rwandan youth. Forever TVET Institute in Rwanda, for instance, offers training in different disciplines including heavy machinery control, land survey and mapping, industrial electricity, road construction and computer engineering to increase young students' prospects in the job market. It has trained nearly 500 graduates since its inception in 2018 and most of them are employed.

KIGALI, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- With their focus on computer monitors, students concentrated on learning to control heavy machinery in a simulation room.

These were students at Forever TVET Institute in Rwanda's capital city of Kigali.

Said Munezero, 32, one of the students training in heavy machinery operation, said he expects the course to open up a world of opportunities for him.

"At the beginning, the course looks difficult but with time learning becomes easy," Munezero told Xinhua in an interview.

Forever TVET Institute was opened in 2018 by China's Beijing Forever Technology Co., Ltd., and the vocational school's goal is to employ competent tutors to offer skills aimed to stem unemployment among young Rwandans.

It offers heavy machinery operation and maintenance training, land survey and mapping, industrial electricity, road construction, computer engineering, and welding among others. It also teaches languages to enhance students' communication.

The institute offers short-term courses, where students graduate with certificates of competence, and long-term courses which take three years before one can graduate with the equivalent of an advanced level certificate.

Munezero, a graduate of education, said the short course could be a turning point in his life as he seeks a career switch.

"The advantage for us is that there are currently few skilled people in heavy machinery operation in the country which potentially increases our chances of ending up with a job upon completion of the course," he said.

He is the last born in a family of five children. His plans after school are to change his life for the better and work toward individual and the country's development.

Vincent Mugwaneza, the head of trainers in the department of heavy machines operation, learned the heavy machinery operation in China before returning to help introduce the course at the school in 2018.

"Heavy machines operation course requires commitment; when you are committed you can learn easily but without devotion, the course can be hard," he said.

A student practices controlling heavy machinery at Forever TVET Institute in Kigali, Rwanda, July 8, 2022. (Xinhua/Ji Li)

The technical skills help the students to find suitable well-paying jobs within a short time after graduation, said Mugwaneza, explaining that the students get involved in learning with the real heavy machines after the simulation.

Odile Uwayo, a female student training in heavy machine operation, said she expects the technical skills acquired to help her get a good job and transform their family lives.

Uwayo, 25, who joined the school last June, for a three-month short course, prefers forklift operations.

The graduate of Irrigation and Drainage from the University of Rwanda said she joined Forever TVET school in order to gain special skills related to her previous course.

The firstborn in a family of four recalled the excitement after being admitted.

"I saw it as a great opportunity to learn new special skills and my family supported me," she said.

Her future plan is to work as an irrigation engineer with multiple skills.

Narcisse Izabayo, the school's vice principal, noted that the school holds great promise for Rwandan youth.

"We provide adequate technical skills to our students that provide better job prospects. We are striving to fill the skills gap in areas such as road construction and heavy machine operation. We also produce technicians who are needed on the local labor market," said Izabayo, noting most of the previous students are employed.

The school now has about 154 students. Since its inception, it has produced nearly 500 graduates in different disciplines.

The school enrolls both male and female students from Rwanda and the region. Enrolled students range from fresh secondary school leavers to university graduates who want to learn special skills.

Izabayo said the number of girls is still low compared to boys but the growing enrollment signals a changing attitude toward vocational training.

The school designs courses from theory, simulation to practical operation and then helps students in internship placement in big companies as part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed with local companies and Chinese-funded companies.

The vice principal cited a lack of staff quarters and expensive equipment among their challenges.■