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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Far from good, but good from afar?

Picture: Emmy Chirchir

Kenya's job market is taking some twists and turns

Last time, I wrote about how the competition in the job market in Kenya is getting stiffer by the day. More and more people now have master’s degrees, for example. The question is: Where does that leave those who cannot afford to climb the education ladder that high?

There are other options. One can go to a tertiary college. I have several cousins and other relatives who did not have the finances to go on to university once they finished high school, even though they had worked hard enough to get grades that would have been sufficient for entering a university.
So the next best place for them was a polytechnic or a college, which usually require two years of study to earn a certificate or a diploma. I recognize that other countries may have a different meaning for diploma. For us, the PhD is regarded as the highest educational level, then the master’s degree, then the bachelor’s, then a diploma and, at the bottom, is a certificate.

Those with just a diploma cannot compete for the same jobs as people with a master’s. Needless to say, most of my cousins did not stand much of a chance at a white-collar job. Most of them resorted to starting a business or farming, which is also a viable option. The girls mostly got married off.

But for those who want to attend university, there are other options for financing education such as government loans and bursaries from the state – including from local governments. I received a government loan, which I am still repaying. The funds offered are usually sufficient to pay for fees in a state university with just enough left over as pocket money.

What happens in this system is that the space for creativity and for nurturing talent in areas like art and music is almost non-existent – a problem different from the one Hellgurd discussed in Iraq.  That is because studying these fields is not regarded as education! Parents generally frown on their children if they say that they would like to be musicians or artists when they grow up.

There are a few people who have had an education in music, art, drama or similar areas, but people tend to consider that as involving talent and entertainment – not education.

Personally, I think it’s important to find a balance between what one is good at, where one’s strengths lie and what puts food on the table.


June 3, 2012 | 2:45 pm





  • This is most interesting!
    In Argentina, for instance, you can get a scholarship from the government if you want to study engineering, industry-oriented science and careers related to industrial development. This is strongly related to the lack of professionals in my country to work on this field and, hence, empower economy. I think this is a good approach.
    I do consider that music, art and drama involve education. However, there are not many working opportunities in my country on these fields (more artistic), and those who have a job in these are not very well paid. In this sense, I consider it good that more traditional fields of study are given an incentive in this way.

  • Quite an interesting issue!
    In Russia there are either too many university students or there is a lack of scholarships, as they are mostly not enough to live on while studying (no matter in what sphere your major lies). Such way of treating students results in many who are willing to get educated abroad where a student status means more opportunities.
    As for the range of papers which you get after graduating or finishing a course – every other employer seems to need staff with university diplomas even if their job doesn’t require these skills. As a result – those who pursue money prefer not to spend 4-5 years in a university but to get a fake diploma and use it when applying for a position. If they do not get caught – our society becomes filled with unqualified “specialists”.

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