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Kenyan youth thirst for university education, scorn vocational training

Njange Maina @NjangeWaEunice

Thousands of Kenyan youth are not interested in vocational and technical training education but are aspiring to join universities instead. Many among these would do anything for an opportunity to study abroad.

A new study dubbed Next Generation Report released by the British Council shows that about 58 per cent of youth sampled agreed that university education is more valuable than vocational training, which could be the reason why enrolment in universities has risen sharply since 2012.

Only a third of those interviewed, however, insisted that vocational training is better than university education. Many youth think polytechnics are for academic failures.

According to data by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, student’s enrolment in public universities has doubled since 2012 from 251,196 to 512,924 by 2015.

On the contrary, admissions in vocational training centres rose by less than 10 per cent. “In university, you get to define yourself, to know who you are and interact with many people. Most people in my county believe that polytechnic schools are for failures,” said a respondent from Siaya.

According to the study, over 86 per cent of Kenyan youth aged between 15 and 24 years believe that education is the ultimate path to a successful life.Slightly below a quarter of the respondents highlighted lack of good education as their main challenge in life while only 21 per cent confessed to have college or university education.

Interestingly, while the youth agreed that Kenya’s education system is on a springboard, they said it cannot match that offered in western countries. About 38 per cent said the United States and United Kingdom offer quality education.

Of those interviewed, 71 per cent said they were willing to relocate to western countries for better lives, especially to access better education. The rising use of internet technology is the main influencer of the youths’ desire to go majuu (overseas).

The study also focused the youths’ perception on education system and employability in Kenya. About 67 per cent said the main challenge they face is unemployment despite attainment of university education. “I have worked hard to get good grades and I am a well-read, smart person.

It is so incredibly demoralising that some guy who is related to some politician and barely finished high school is probably going to steal my job,” said a girl respondent from Nairobi.

The report also gave recommendations, which respondents believed can improve education quality. British Council Country Director in Kenya, Tony Reilly said the report, which gives us an opportunity for Kenyan youth to be heard.

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