Dual training programme

Pilot project: Orientation towards the Swiss model of dual training

The dual vocational education and training pilot project was developed by express desire of the Rwandan government. It combines the benefits of classroom theory with the practical development of technical and social skills directly at companies.

PROMOST is supporting the Rwanda Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Board in developing a pilot model for dual vocational education and training in the Western Province. The primary objective of the programme was to ensure that trainees are experiencing the same training content in two distinct learning environments.

Swisscontact’s vocational education approach is based on the Swiss system’s success factors. This model is implemented by robust labour market institutions and is based on solid public-private partnerships.

Swisscontact promotes joint commitments of the main stakeholders in conceiving, planning, implementing, certifying, and guiding vocational training courses and labour market integration initiatives. The joint approach is based in practice on a clearly defined and regulated financing mechanism along with training and labour market services offered at the local level, where all actors know their respective roles and responsibilities.

The dual vocational education and training approach is notable for its strong engagement with the private sector, by which classroom and hands-on practical phases alternate between the workplace and a classroom or training centre. The latter locations are of particular relevance to labour markets and countries without hitherto strong private sector involvement, such as Rwanda. 

The Swiss model serves as a template for the dual training concept, but it needed to be adapted to the Rwandan context. It is based on the formal vocational education system, and after its successful completion, a corresponding certificate noting the qualification is awarded.

To develop this three-year dual training curriculum, existing TVET certificates were adapted to the Rwandan context, but without making any changes to the curriculum contents.

Before and after programme implementation, the most important activities conducted together with the Rwanda TVET Board (RTB) were:

  • Customising the structure of the dual training curriculum to eight distinct professions, and two short-term training courses were developed
  • Developing a method for sharing the training results at both training locations (school and business) containing an assessment of four skills dimensions (technical, methodical, personal, and social)
  • Creating a timetable with six learning blocks across three school years. This was mindful of the geographical distance (with its limitations) between the school and training business along with the associated logistical resources.

The achievements of the dual education and training programme in Rwanda can be summarised as follows:

  • Six vocational schools in the Western Province and two in Kigali have started the pilot phase of dual apprenticeship-based training.
  • 315 business and classroom trainers were equipped with technical and pedagogical skills to serve trainees.
  • The school workshop facilities were set up as business incubators.
  • More than 100 business, including a public institution, in the Western Province, northern and southern neighbouring districts, and the city of Kigali have stated their intent to participate in the implementation of the dual apprenticeship-based training programme.

External factors

Characteristics of national and industrial sectors and structures

Traditionally, dual, apprenticeship-based training and education features a high degree of industrial and service sector involvement. Primary agriculture is typically less suited to a dual vocational education system. In some developing countries, large agribusinesses nevertheless implement training models to employ skilled labour and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Furthermore, companies that are willing to offer a dual, apprenticeship-based training programme tend to be quite common in mid-sized and large cities. In contrast, rural areas are less suited to dual, apprenticeship-based training models and partnerships.

All these factors above constrained the pilot project, and it was often difficult to find enough promising companies in Rwanda’s Western Province. In contrast, it was much easier to develop a pilot project for e-bikes in the capital city Kigali, and it had positive spillover effects for apprentices in Western Province who sometimes need to travel to Kigali, a trip fraught with additional expenses, which in most cases were covered by the companies.


Characteristics of the companies

Most of the characteristics described above apply to the company structure as well. Formal sector businesses with at least 10 employees are usually more ideally suited to dual, apprenticeship-based training, because at least one employee must take on the role of mentor or “in-house trainer.”   Informal sector companies and MSMEs are typically less suited to a dual, apprenticeship-based training partnership. Most businesses in Rwanda are micro- and small enterprises, and the number of “qualified” businesses is low.


Private sector organisation

The degree of formal organisation within the private sector is a decisive factor in a successful dual, apprenticeship-based training. Large, well-organised private sector entities often feature a separate skills development department and can conduct lobbying activities, as well as organise and support dual, apprenticeship-based training programmes. Furthermore, experiences from other countries have demonstrated that it is better to organise and test new dual, apprenticeship-based training programmes within a single economic sector or subsector, rather than reaching out to any and all potential companies across different random sectors. The example of the e-bikes in Kigali is proof of this. Other sectoral approaches, for example in the hospitality industry, also enable a customised dual training programme that reflects the business environment and interests of the companies in that sector.