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Our slavery mentality, backward education orientation the cause of our unemployment

By Jaymo Wa Thika,

For decades, Kenya has struggled with the serious problem of youth unemployment without any end in sight. This problem can be traced back to the pre-colonial era when the missionaries came to Africa.

During that time, the Mzungu introduced formal education with intent to recruit the native Africans for cheap labour. The education system was designed to prepare the Africans to work for the Wazungus. By and by, Africans were made to believe that people went to school so as to get employed. 

Remember the popular Kiswahili song "Someni vijana" by Henry Makobi that was released in 1958? The content of the song encouraged learners to study so hard so that that they could secure employment in good white collar jobs. For many years, the song was used as a signature tune in educational programmes in V.O.K.'s (now KBC) TV and radio.

That was the education orientation then and has always been passed down to generations up to date. Our education system is designed to churn out job seekers rather than job creators. That is why a parent will desperately cough out a bribe of up to Sh. 500,000 to secure a job for their children..... Money that is enough to create a more lucrative venture if well guided.

Parents take their children to school to attain education for employment. There is this notion in the African setup that you can only be successful if you are employed in a big office within government or companies. Those who self-employ themselves are not regarded as achievers thus children get so much discouraged from cutting that route.

This mindset gave birth to an overly theoretical system of education where learners have to cram for exams to get good grades into the university and eventually into the job market. The result is… very intelligent robots who cannot practically solve any intellectual problem.

The country attempted to reverse this trend in the 80s when the government introduced the 8-4-4 system of education. However, the system was later plagued with too much politics and opportunism that it eventually ended up churning out examination robots. 

We have recently attempted solving the problem with the introduction of the Competency-based curriculum (CBC) but the system was rushed into our schools without proper logistics and sensitisation, leaving most stakeholders including the teachers mandated with implementing it being more confused.

It is rather unfortunate that we have gotten accustomed to worrying about millions new job-seekers entering the job market each year, rather than celebrating that a wave of millions new entrepreneurs joining the economy each year. We need a paradigm shift in our education set up to start developing job creators rather than job seekers.

If students only dream to become employees, nothing will happen. This country will become a consuming economy and joblessness will always be our cup of tea. There is a need to make Kenya an employer economy.

Tafakari hayo kwa sasa

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