Career choices after KCSE should be done prudently

University of Nairobi stand

Participants at the University of Nairobi stand during the My Network Tertiary Education and Careers Fair at the KICC grounds in 2019.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

I received overwhelming queries on career choices in my email following the publication of the article ‘Najma’s ‘B’ Grade in KCSE exam is evidence of a flawed system’ in the Saturday Nation of April 30, 2022. Others shared how they were declared failures but later excelled in life.

After four years of toiling, anxiety and some frustrations here and there, the high school life is over. A new journey has been marked by examination results for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

The results may or may not be what some individuals and their parents and/guardians expected. However, a decision must be made since it is essential to advance beyond basic education. The career choice made is dependent on certain essential life skills and living values. The individual’s decisiveness is paramount, information is power and having supportive people around is very essential.

KCSE results outcome creates confusion in some recipients that impedes positive thought processes. With proper guidance, there are several career paths to choose from. Meaningful development in any society requires that none of her children stops schooling after secondary education. Dropping out after KCSE has been the greatest cause of unemployment in Kenya. Every individual requires training to perform certain activities effectively and with returns. Even for self-employment, some formation beyond high school is important.

Out of ignorance, some parents might decide to engage their children in some businesses they’ve established or even in farming. Others may even acquire motorbikes for their children to engage in boda boda business.

Some children will even request to be assisted in starting small-scale businesses such as vending, hawking and operating shops, popularly referred to as kiosks, or even get employed in factories, businesses, farms among other places.

This is likely to spell a future disaster for the majority of those who take those paths. As a Kikuyu proverb notes, ‘it is like water on an arrowroot leaf that doesn’t seem to hold’. Girls might be married off especially now that they are of legal age for marriage. A wife with a stable career is likely to have a more stable and peaceful marriage than a dependent one.

However, if these individuals are given training and later undertake such activities, chances of succeeding are much higher. Skills combined with character development play a crucial role in any successful career.

In Kenya, there are two pathways for all those who have completed high school training. Some may categorise them in more ways than two depending on the criterion. There is a mainstream education and a vocational training path.

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) is on record that all form four leavers will be placed into a post-secondary course. This must be done diligently considering students’ choices, interests and capabilities.

Those who got C+ and above are assured of a university course or middle level colleges placed by the government either in a public or private university. This is dependent on many factors including space, candidates’ choice, mean grade and subject clusters.

However, there are many that are placed into courses they never selected and had no idea about. Such people end up being frustrated.

The rest with C grade and below are expected to be placed in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions. These technical training institutes play a crucial role in developing essential skills for accomplishing production of goods, construction, repair and maintenance. It also serves as a base for self-employment and creating employment for others. These skilled personnel include mechanics, plumbers, tailors, bakers, drivers, electricians, lab assistants, caterers, cooks, waiters, stewards, carpenters and masons.

Unlike most university careers, middle level colleges and TVET training are hands-on. Students learn by doing which is an essential component for learning. Instead of joining certain courses at the university, it is advisable to join these middle level colleges. Noteworthy, the school fees for courses in these technical institutions is way below that of self-sponsored programmes at the university and the returns are more immediate after training. There is also a lot of government funding, including bursaries.

All said and done, philosophy of education explains that any ‘investment in career training will give returns within half the training time and double the resources invested’.

The sense of accomplishment and earning a living because of certain training is an educational premium. Even the best businesses can collapse and one can lose unskilled employment more easily than skilled. The youth should remember that not all that glitters is gold. They should avoid being lured into easy money or get rich quick schemes.

Dr Wanjohi is an educationist, currently a lecturer at Kenyatta University. [email protected]

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