Last week, the World Bank released a damning report about the quality of graduates being churned out by local universities and colleges, which is not a surprise to those who have been following the emerging trends of higher education in the last few years.
The report said our education system doesn’t produce graduates with knowledge and skills needed for Vision 2030. A few weeks ago I attended an event organised to discuss the literacy crisis in Kenya in Nairobi and a CEO of a leading continental bank shocked participants when he revealed that when his bank intends to hire for a position, they place the advert six months earlier to allow them ample time to recruit and retrain successful candidate(s) on soft and the technical skills needed in the position!
He further revealed that his bank now prefers recruiting graduates from Burundi for its Kenyan and regional offices because they are better prepared!
Yes, he said Burundi, the country Kenyans won’t want to be compared with, especially because of the governance issues stoking it. The report came hot on heels of professional bodies repeated bastardisation of graduates churned en masse by local universities.
Just last month alone, Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board bemoaned the case of ill-prepared magistrates and judges who can’t write proper and well-reasoned judgements and officials at the Judiciary who lack “basic writing skills”.
The Engineers Board of Kenya has failed to grant practicing certificates to graduates from a number of local universities. The Council of Legal Education has suspended the training of law students at a leading local public university.
The medical professional bodies have issues with a number of universities offering medicine courses. Last month, the Rwandese government temporarily closed a Kenyan university campus in Kigali over quality concerns.
Last week, though the Kenyan university was given a green light to reopen after addressing the shortcomings. The situation is dire as students who are lured to innocently join these universities to pursue the particular courses are left to bear the brunt.
They bear, single-handedly, the psychological trauma for the time wasted pursuing the courses, anxiety of not knowing when and how the issue will be resolved and the huge sums of money parents have invested and the attendant government loans, which eventually must be paid.
The question then is, on what grounds has the Commission for University Education allowed these universities to operate despite the glaring inabilities to deliver what they pretend to offer? After what level of evaluation are the courses approved?
What kind of appraisal goes into approving and giving charters to even some of the pathetic varsities and colleges dotting the length and breadth of our urban centres? Even more surprising, how do some of the universities receive ISO certifications?
However, with some retrospection, the issue of unemployable graduates from our universities doesn’t start when the students step into the institutions. It starts much earlier.
At home children are inculcated with a value system that spurns creativity for academic excellence; hence they start school at a tender age. In school, they find an adulterated curriculum and a system that focuses on passing national exams at all costs.
To that effect, in primary and secondary schools, the learners are drilled through rote learning to pass exams. At the university, the trend continues under the indifferent eye of a tired lecturer who hops from one institution to another for extra coin, with no time for research.
After graduation the graduates lack pre-employment pathways such as internship. The sum of all this is a young adult who is set to fail by system and government agencies that are heavily capacitated and rewarded to be helpless! —[email protected]