6th July 2017
This article was featured in the Daily Nation
Kenya’s education system is one of the best in the region. The best evidence of this is the high demand for Kenyan professionals, both in the region and the continent.
Kenyan teachers, doctors, engineers, hoteliers, and IT experts have been engaged in some of the emerging economies such as Rwanda, South Sudan and Botswana. Kenya remains a vibrant economy globally recognised as the gateway to Africa. However, we are not where we ought to be. It has often been mentioned that at independence, our economy was at the same level as those of South Korea and Malaysia.
There are also reports that Malaysia copied Kenya’s Those countries are now highly advanced whereas Kenya still struggles with basics such as food security. However, the country has not been shy to talk about its shortcomings.
In the corridors of government, private sector boardrooms, university lecture halls, the streets and in villages, there is debate around retracing our footpaths, overcoming the challenges and laying ground for eventual economic take-off.
MADE NOTABLE STEPS
Indeed, the government has, over the past decade made notable steps towards the realisation of middle level income economy. One area in which we can do well is linking the ‘backend’ with the ‘frontend’. This means sports, art and craft, music, drama, local languages and enterprise, become part of the syllabus as much as maths, reading, writing and science.
The second aspect is instituting a structured engagement between academia, research institutions and employers. It is unfortunate that some of the programmes offered in universities have little relevance to the market. I have a soft spot for the Junior Achievement (JA) programme. Working mostly with high school students, the programme exposes young people to the real world of work and entrepreneurship through job shadow and sports.
The final aspect is instituting a policy to support continuous review of the education system, engagement between academia and market and skills and technology transfer from foreign firms which secure jobs in Kenya to local talent.
I look forward to a time when every high school or college graduate will be relevant to the economy, not just by being employed, but also by using local resources to produce essential commodities, creating cottage industries and new jobs. The potential is great. Are we ready?