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Kenyan youth realize dreams through China-funded vocational training

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-28 10:24

NAIROBI - After completing an elitist course in mechanics at Kenya's premier vocational training institute, James Wang'ombe became a hero to his peers in a farming village, where the 24-year-old was born.

For many of Wang'ombe's age mates who are still trapped in low income and unskilled jobs, James Wang'ombe's situation is an allure for them as they seek an exit from poverty.

The jovial Kenyan youth told Xinhua on Monday in Nairobi that he nurtured the dream of a career in automotive engineering at a tender age.

"Growing up in a predominantly farming community can be limiting unless one takes a bold move to chart a different course. I knew that acquiring technical skills was the gateway to better life," said Wang'ombe.

Wang'ombe, who joined the National Youth Service (NYS) of Kenya in August 2012, enrolled for a course in mechanics last year.

The NYS is a beneficiary of Chinese assistance to provide Kenyan youth with vocational skills and shield them from anti- social behaviors associated with unemployment.

Established in 1964 by Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta, the NYS was set to provide a home for children who were displaced. The institution has been a training ground for underprivileged youth yearning for skills that would guarantee them gainful employment.

Wang'ombe and thousands of youth from poor families have found a new lease of life after enrolling for prestigious courses like mechanics, driving and electrical engineering.

"The learning is free and is involved in repairing of Chinese vehicles. I plan to work in Nairobi when I finish the course in August," Wang'ombe told Xinhua.

NYS Director General Japhter Rugutt told Xinhua that the institution has established solid partnership with China for the last ten years. "We have received lots of assistance from the government of China. The country has provided equipments and vehicles to enable us accomplish duties of national importance," said Rugutt.

According to him, the NYS gained the equipments about five years ago from China's AVIC International Holding Corporation (AVIC-INTL) under the phase one of bilateral cooperation and continues using them. The second phase cooperation is bigger.

"We are using those equipments for constructing purposes, for dam construction, for road construction and also for vehicle supervision. They have really enhanced the capacity of this department," Rugutt told Xinhua, adding that the NYS is very grateful to the cooperation and looks forward to more agreements with China.

The NYS recruits individuals aged 18-25 years for vocational training in various disciplines like carpentry, masonry, tailoring, farming and business.

"Our mandate is to rehabilitate youth, provide them with skills and expose them to the job market. Our 16 affiliates offer various crafts like mechanics, driving and agriculture up to diploma level, " said Rugutt.

China has mainly provided equipment and also trainers for training mechanics at the NYS. "Technical assistance from China has enabled us to upgrade automotive engineering. Chinese technicians stayed here for one year to teach our staff. Kenyan technicians too were sent to China where they gained skills in motor vehicle assembly plants," Rugutt said.

He disclosed that the institution will send two engineers to China this week. Kenyan students who interacted with Chinese technicians were upbeat of securing lucrative jobs.

Suleiman Salim, a 36-year-old mechanic was reabsorbed by the NYS for long-term employment having excelled in his course. He underwent a four-month training course conducted by Chinese technicians.

"I can now repair all Chinese vehicles and I'm impressed by the user friendly and fuel efficient equipments from the country," Salim told Xinhua.

He added that skills gained at NYS gave him a second life after toiling for peanuts in his ancestral village. The institution's technicians hailed expertise gained from China for transforming their craft.

"Chinese vehicle are very good," he said, adding that he is eager to go China to learn skills.

Timothy Kavoi, a 55-year-old technician said that his one and a half months stint in China two years ago widened his horizons.

"I visited Chinese motor companies where I acquired new skills. The automotive industry in China is quite advanced," Kavoi told Xinhua.

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