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Vocational education for people with disabilities

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The main aim of the EmployAble Programme is to provide quality TVET education to young people with disabilities, so that they can become employed or self-employed. The analysis of the labour market, STEP 1, proved to be crucial for increasing disability awareness among stakeholders, identifying training and employment opportunities, and encouraging stakeholders to appreciate diversity in the workforce.

Key words:

  • Accessibility
  • Vocational training
  • Employement
  • Scholarship
  • Internship

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Inclusive education is about fostering an education system that is accessible to learners with varying abilities and embraces everyone’s participation in the learning process. Tomorrow is too long to wait for inclusion; let’s do it now!’


To define the labour market:

  • Light for the World conducted stakeholder consultations in the three countries to discuss issues of inclusion, vocational training and the labour market. An analysis of government priorities and the absorption capacity of preferred sectors indicated that the main priority economic sectors were: hospitality/tourism, agriculture and food processing, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, electrical installations and ICT. The consultations were conducted at the time of designing the project and they provided baseline information for the project.
  • TVETs, recruitment/employment agencies and the private sector were involved in profiling and matching the students’ interests with training and job opportunities/requirements before they joined the TVETs. This was done through the core teams in the respective countries.
  • To inform project interventions, assessment studies were conducted in Kenya and Rwanda on the barriers to and successes of employing Youth with Disabilities (YWDs). Here you will find an example of such an assessment in Rwanda.

To analyse the labour market, Light for the World:

  • Established workable partnerships to give mutual expert support, employment links and space for inclusive training/employment.
  • Provided practical training of TVET teachers in specialized and hands-on skills for hearing- and visually-impaired students, such as sign language and Braille.
  • Was continuously involved in the Learn4Work network to share its experience in linking the labour market and the TVETs.
  • Hosted human resources managers and the participation of YWDs in job fairs, which exposed young people to what employers look for in employees.
  • Developed the identification and assessment tool to facilitate the profiling of information on functional capacities, assessment of training needs and inclusion requirements for students with disabilities. The employers helped by guiding the students towards courses that develop skills that are attractive to the labour market.


Local partners:

  • Umbrella organization: Persons with Disabilities in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS (UPHLS, Rwanda).
  • Agency for Disability and Development in Africa (ADDA, Kenya).
  • Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development (ECDD, Ethiopia).


  • Young people with disabilities: directly targeted by the programme to be enrolled in TVETs.
  • Parents: offer students parental and psychosocial support and assist with day-to-day needs before and during the training period.
  • Local private sector organizations: responsible for providing the self-employed with start-up kits.
  • Commercial enterprises and employers: responsible for offering internship placements and job opportunities to graduates.


  • Training of TVET teachers in BTEC skills by Groenhorst College, to transfer practical skills to students.
  • Business and Disability Network established in Ethiopia as a platform for sharing issues of inclusion and disability among the business community and the disability fraternity. The network is still being formalized and is also being emulated in other countries, such as Kenya.
  • Psychosocial support for students before enrolment in TVETs, to help them deal with any challenges that they may be encountering or have encountered as a result of their impairment.
  • TVETs and commercial enterprises supporting and committed to the inclusion of young people with disabilities in training and employment.

Lessons learned

  • Working in partnerships facilitates the shared learning and experience-sharing process.
  • Linking commercial enterprises to TVETs through the core team facilitates feedback to TVETs on the skills needed in the labour market. They have a shared interest in the quality of skills that the students gain in the training.
  • Involving commercial enterprises in the profiling and selection of trainees helps the latter to select relevant training that fits well with the available labour market opportunities.
  • TVET-employer links are key to making training relevant to labour market demands.
  • In all the three countries, policies favour the inclusion of people with disabilities in TVETs and the labour market. However, knowledge and expertise is still inadequate; for example, knowledge on teaching and assessing students with hearing and visual impairments.


  • Getting the commitment of TVET managers is important from the start, to give staff space and support to practise, to undertake training and to contribute to the incorporation of new standards and approaches.
  • Hands-on training support and internships are important to prepare trainees adequately for sustainable employment.
  • Linking TVETs and employers through the core team is key to making TVET training relevant to the labour market.

Project sheet Light for the World (PDF)


In three African countries people with disabilities prove the discriminatory and excluding general opinion wrong; they can learn a trade and work if only they get the chance.

Short facts
Sector: Technical and Vocational Education becomes accessible for people with disabilities
Lead partner: Light for the World
Overall budget for the project: €1.171.555
Learn4Work contribution: € 303.400
Partner contribution: € 868.155
Implementation period: January 2014- December 2015

Equal to the Task

In developing countries, 80% to 90% of people with disabilities within the working age are unemployed according to the International Labor Organisation. But just like others, people with disabilities want a dignified and productive life. They want to work, participate and are most often able to do the exact same work. But frequently they face discrimination and exclusion, from an early age on. Children with disabilities in developing countries regularly don’t go to school. They end up lacking the skills and education that are essential to find a job. Thus, they are forced to be financially dependent upon others. For girls with a disability this happens even more so than for boys.

Education and Job Market

And even if they do finish their education, employers often discriminate them. There might be some physical barriers, like access to some offices by wheelchair, but these can easily be overcome. More importantly, there are persistent negative attitudes regarding their skills. This project therefore addresses both issues: access to vocational education as well as the link with the job market.

Relevant Skills

In each of the three project countries, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, 200 people with disabilities will learn a specific trade, craft or profession through a good quality vocational training. They will be trained on relevant skills in a mainstream vocational educational training centre, just like any other student. Employers will be trained as well to make them aware of simple solutions to include people with disabilities in their companies. The vocational training centres will be supported to provide career counselling and link students with potential employers and recruitment agencies.

Growing Movement

The ultimate goal is for youth with a disability to not encounter any restriction in finding a job; they should be treated as equal to a candidate without a disability.
This project tackles some important obstacles. Children and youth with a disability should go to school and learn useful skills that enable them to work. This will not be realised overnight. However, good practices, model projects and success stories can inspire others and accelerate change. This project unites a wide range of partners. Over the course of the project it is expected that this large group of people and organisations working towards the same goal will grow even bigger. Lead partners in each country will collect successes and small steps of progress and share them with partner organisations in other countries, but also with policy makers, government agencies, youth employment organisations and employers’ associations. The stories and experiences of these youth will be the beginning..  Their successes in completing a vocational education and finding a job will pave the way for others.

Public Private Partnership

Light for the World is the lead partner of this ambitious project and coordinates and collaborates with the three country lead partners ECDD, ADDA and UPHLS. The DutchGroenhorst College will support the different technical and vocational institutions in the countries to improve the quality of teaching and curriculum. Together they adapt the trainings to make them more hands-on and responsive to the local demands from the private sector.

Other Contributing Partners:

Umbrella of Persons with Disabilities in HIV&Aids (UPHLS) (lead partner in Rwanda), Agency for Disability and Development in Africa (ADDA)  (lead partner in Kenya), Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (lead partner in Ethiopia). Local partners in Rwanda: National council of Persons with disabilities (NCPD),  Workforce development Authority (WDA),  Private Sector federation (PSF), Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) Masaka Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, Yes Rwanda (Youth Employment Service),  Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Inkuru nziza,  CFJ le Bon Pasteur, Gako farming training centre, VTC Makines, GS ADB Nyarutarama. Local partners in Kenya: Kabete Technical Institute, Baraka Training institute, Karen training institute, Techno Brain Ltd., Toyota Kenya, Vocational Training for the Blind and Deaf-Sikri, Stantec Motors Ltd. Local partners in Ethiopia: Selam Technical and  Vocational Education and Training Institute, infoMind Solutions PLC, Alage Agricultural TVET.

Testimony 1

‘My name is Habtamu Abebe and I am the Vice Dean of Selam TVET in Ethiopia. I had little understanding of the issue of disability and had several preconceptions about people with disabilities. Our college was not particularly committed to the inclusion of trainees with disabilities in our programmes.

‘Previously, even if we accepted trainees with disabilities, we didn’t think of making them a priority or setting up special arrangements. Now, with the strong initiatives taken by EmployAble, we see the enrolment of trainees with disabilities as a mandatory part of our work, as long as they fulfil the minimum entry requirements. Furthermore, we won’t determine where they should be placed; rather, they will be placed based on their preferences.

‘As the project is concerned with the inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream TVET, I really appreciate the fact that people with disabilities are involved in the management and coordination of the project. It’s great that EmployAble is run by persons with disabilities themselves.

‘The TVET that I work for, Selam TVET College, is committed to the inclusion of trainees with disabilities. I have the full support of the TVET college management, which is very interested in encouraging and improving the participation of young people with disabilities in vocational education.

‘The basic disability-awareness training is really important. I am sure that if people with disabilities are given equal opportunities, they will perform well. In our country, due to prejudice and deep-rooted stereotypes, there’s an assumption that people with disabilities don’t have the capacity to engage in skills training and become productive. This discrimination persists, as people have a backward attitude to disability. As this training improves participants’ understanding of disability, it is cornerstone for realising disability-inclusive TVET and making Selam TVET more accessible.

‘As this is a new programme, I suggest that the EmployAble programme work closely with the other TVET providers in Ethiopia. As the programme progresses, I am sure that lots of people will come and look for skills-training facilitated by your organization.

‘Nowadays, people are not positive about TVET-sector trainees in general – let alone people with disabilities, who face discrimination in every walk of life. Rather, they prefer to employ university-educated graduates with lower skills levels. The problem often gets complicated when it comes to disabled TVET graduates applying for jobs in private companies. We should thus work with private-sector employers to enhance their understanding of disability and advocate for employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.’

Testimony 2

‘My name is Kezia Njeru and I am 19 years old. I live in Nakuru. I live with multiple impairments (mental, visual and physical). I developed cerebral palsy when I was 7 years old. ADDA helped me to attend Baraka Agricultural College. I am doing a Poultry Production Management course. I chose to do poultry production because I observed chickens dying in my village and wondered how I could help. To date, I have been trained how to vaccinate chicks. I can train other people in poultry-rearing, be a supplier of eggs and meat, and employ others in my business. I have learned how to rear poultry and maintain hygiene.

‘During the training, the trainers were sympathetic with me, which was a good thing. It was not a problem to access the farm and the classroom. The trainers were very good, and I enjoyed the relationship with the other students. Previously, I had attended Joytown High school for the physically impaired. Comparing the high school with Baraka, I observed that other students with physical impairments had been neglected at Joytown; Baraka, a mainstream institution, is the best. I appreciate the choice I made to attend this training, because I have been empowered to train people.’

Light for the World – Netherlands

Light for the World
PO Box 672
3900 AR Veenendaal
Website: www.lightfortheworld.nl
Email: info[at]lightfortheworld.nl
Contact: Mr Sander Schot

Programme manager Employable:

Meldah Tumukunde
Email: m.tumukunde[at]lightfortheworld.nl

Agency for Disability and Development in Africa (ADDA)

Email: rinakamukam[at]addaafrica.org
Contact: Mrs Rina Kamkam

InfoMind Solutions PLC

Website: http://www.ethiojobs.net
Email: info[at]ethiojobs.net
Contact: Mr Yusfu Reja

Selam Technical and Vocational Education and Training College

Website: http://www.selamchildrenvillage.org
Email: Info[at]selamchildrenvillage.org
Contact: Mr Tamirat

Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development – ECDD

Website: http://www.ecdd-ethiopia.org/
Email: info[at]ecdd-ethiopia.org
Contact: Melaku Tekle

Vocational Training for the Blind and Deaf Sikri

Email: sikriblinddeaf[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mr Stalin Olwenge

Toyota Kenya

Website: http://www.toyotakenya.com
Email: enquiries[at]toyotakenya.com
Contact: Mrs Ann Kirumba

Baraka Agricultural College

Website: http://www.sustainableagri.org/
Email: Baraka[at]sustainableagri.org
Contact: Mr Francis Njenga Kamau

Techno Brain Ltd

Website: http://www.technobraingroup.com/
Email: info.kenya[at]technobrainltd.com
Contact: Mr Colins Abuyu

Karen Training Institute for the Deaf

Email: info[at]kareninstituteforthedeaf.org
Contact: Mrs Hanna Salim

Kabete Technical Training Institute

Website: http://www.kabetetechnical.ac.ke/
Email: info[at]kabetetechnical.ac.ke
Contact: Mr Samuel Mugo

VTC Makines

Email: buhigirojacques[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mr Jacques Buhigiro

CFJ Bon Pasteur

Email: christnyira[at]yahoo.fr
Contact: Mrs Marie Christine Nyirahagenimana

CBR Inkuru Nziza

Email: murenzi55[at]yahoo.fr
Contact: Mr Augustin Murenzi

Youth Employment System Rwanda – YES

Website: http://www.yesrwandajobs.org/index.php
Email: info[at]yesrwandajobs.org
Contact: Mr Eric Irakiza Mucyo

Rwanda Union of the Blind

Email: info[at]rub-ura.org
Contact: Kanimba Donatilla

Private Sector Federation

Website: http://www.psf.org.rw/?lang=en
Email: info[at]psf.org.rw
Contact: Mr Leon Pierre Rusanganwa

Workforce Development Authority – WDA

Website: http://www.wda.gov.rw/
Email: info[at]wda.gov.rw
Contact: Mr Gerard Karamutsa

Umbrella for Persons with Disabilities in the fight against HIV/AIDS (UPHLS)

Website: http://www.uphls.org/
Email: infos[at]uphls.org
Contact: Mr Bruno Shyirambere

National Council of Persons with Disabilities

Website: http://www.ncpd.gov.rw/index.php?id=23&no_cache=1
Email: info[at]ncpd.gov.rw
Contact: Mr Emmanuel Ndayisaba

Groenhorst College Barneveld

Website: www.groenhorstcollege.nl
Email: w.g.de.haas[at]groenhorst.nl
Contact: Mr Gertwin de Haas