As our adolescents transit to higher education, I was privileged to be part of one such activity recently at one of the top public universities.
I reminisce with pleasure my own experience two decades ago. I left the village, a solitary figure headed to a place I knew not. Arriving in the great city of Nairobi with its imposing skyscrapers and ‘Nairobbery’ infamy, all I could do was trust my instincts, stories of survival and my father’s prayers. One had to know everything off-head, including memorising a few phone numbers — just in case the worst happened and you were left with nothing.
As I sat watching these young people, I was shocked. Some did not even know their home county; others had no clue of a registration number. Yet others showed up without having read a single instruction on the welcome package. On the extreme, some were escorted by an entire village, who insisted on queuing with their “child”.
A parent protested that his child was too “little” to speak for himself! Looking at the bearded, dreadlocked young man got me thinking. The guard asked the man if he would take his son to the salon to have his rasta waxed.
Most of these youngsters have had not a single hour of responsibility. We spent two years hardening up before joining university, including doing menial jobs. Today, it is not uncommon for a graduate not to know the department in which their degree programme was housed or the name of their dean of faculty — which is on their transcripts. After four full years of study!
There is a need for a sizeable transition period between high school and college — whether we go back to the mandatory drafting into the National Youth Service or the two-year delay. For the sake of the future, our young men and women need more practical lessons on responsibility, respect, relationships and their environment.