As of 2012 the unemployment rate in Sub-Saharan Africa was at 25% (1). The educational systems in Africa appear as if they were specifically designed to churn out workers or labour for existing industries and the civil service. As it was during independence, young nations embarked on training the citizenry to take up various roles as Africans had little or no education. Education was geared towards taking up formal employment but not on spurring innovation. Employment was readily available if one could read or write. Sometimes completing a primary or secondary education was enough to secure one a job. Today, times have changed but we have not changed with them. Even with a university degree many lack jobs. African children will spend 16 years or more in school only to graduate into joblessness. The remnants of the archaic educational system have left us fuelling a small capitalist class that has access to quality and cheap labour at the expense of the African youth. African youth have become victim to an educational system that predisposes them to be workers in the service of a few who have access to capital. Students study business administration in order to administrate other people’s businesses not to learn how to be entrepreneurs. Knowledge on joining the various industries is unavailable. Much so, the population has grown but employers remain few because innovation is on the low.
Is Attracting Investors the Way to Go?
Investors help alleviate poverty because they create jobs for the African youth. They are however not the solution to unemployment. Investors will basically have access to cheap labour from the African youth whose educational system grooms them to provide labour for industries. If well equipped, the African youth can be job creators who invest in their own nations. In order to reduce unemployment the youth need to be equipped with entrepreneurial skills, the know how of entry into various industries and given access to capital. This necessitates revamping the educational system in Africa.
Revamping the Educational System
In order to effectively tackle the unemployment problem in Kenya and Africa as a whole, there needs to be an overhaul in the educational system. For starters we are used to an education that does not foster thinking but encourages consumption of knowledge. There is nothing wrong with studying the knowledge available before us but we are better off having an education system that encourages students to find problems in the environment and solve them by aggregating knowledge that is available with new findings. An educational system that is more theoretical than practical encourages students to cram information rather than think about how it can be applied to solve problems. By encouraging a practical approach in educations students will be able to find problems around them and seek to solve them as is fit. Education too has to be skill based such that by the time an individual is done with high school, he/she has skills that can be used to earn a living.
In the Kenyan education system high school students study biology, chemistry and physics as far as theory is concerned but students rarely delve into the practical aspects of their subjects. This is the same case at the university level. A student may study biochemistry and end up being a medical representative selling drugs, ideally unable to utilise his/her knowledge to innovate. We may also have a micro-biology student who after graduation is unable to utilise his/her knowledge to innovate. The same goes for engineering courses. There is too much emphasis on theory as opposed to practicality. One may learn about the functions of mitochondria in the body or the characteristics of mercury but that is it. Once one is done with education, he/she cannot help himself. Once again I emphasis that the education system needs to be practical.