‘Half-baked graduates’ is not a new phrase to any jobseeker and employer. It is something that has been in the media, written about, talked about and fussed about for sometime now. The origin of this phrase can be traced to the statistics as according to the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), a body created to regulate higher education in the east African region. This situation simply confirms the concerns among employers that most graduates are not fully prepared for the job market.
According to the statistics as at the end of last year, about 50,000 students graduate annually in Kenya. And it is said that at most half is suitable for employment. More than half is not technically fit to sustain a challenging job or career. As far as I may agree with the statistics, I also see the logic of getting back and asking, why the disappointing statistics?
While we take our time campaigning for the half-baked claims, do we listen to the other side of the story? Do we take our time to listen to the students before we go ahead and accuse them of being half-baked?
Despite the fact that the half-baked story is based on very strong convictions, so is the defense of saying no, we are not really half baked. First, blame it on the theoretical curriculum that barely gives us anything practical that can give us a taste of what it is out there in the field. All in our syllabus in nothing but theory. Some of our universities and college don’t even give room for an internship or attachment.
Just like the saying goes, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. And so it relates, all theory with no practical makes a student an incompetent fellow. It is like teaching a chef on how to bake. Give him the recipe and no practical cooking lesson. Then expect the same chef to bake you a cake come tomorrow. Can you imagine the cake’s taste? Well, not an appealing taste.
Actually, what is even in the curriculum is very shallow and very different from what’s applied in the field. I faced this challenge during my internship and most students can bear witness to this. In their own defense. That’s why after recruitment, one takes some times to get trained for the impending job.
Also, in Kenya, education is much more of a business now than training. Institutions are basically focused on outsourcing more people and getting more profit. They are not concerned about quality. Who cares about quality anyway if in the end, he reaches the targeted profit margin from outsourcing some mediocre product? Every business personnel knows that profit is the reason why he is in business.
Not only universities are in business, also the lecturers and tutors. They want more salary so they do gamble with various institutions. Actually is also one reason why jobs are scarce in Kenya. Because those with jobs gamble and take hold of as many as they can. I can’t blame them because if I were in their shoes I could do same. The only thing that they don’t do well is by just grabbing the jobs plus the pay and yet they don’t produce results.
Actually most are not even qualified to be lecturers no wonder they half- bake.
I can also blame the government for their failure in quality control. It is quite difficult to tell between a certified higher institution and a fake. This is due to the mushrooming number of colleges and other higher learning institutions. While its too busy taking bribes to care about what is being fed to the nation’s future, fake colleges continue growing till its too late to stop them. Any parent can tell you what happens to a child if he is not well fed and cared for. He is most likely to be feeble due to malnutrition and other problems. He won’t be healthy like he should be.
While the blame is painted on students for being half-baked due to reading just for exams, have we ever asked ourselves why they do that? Well let me give you the answers to that. First, making it in Kenya is all about papers. So how do we expect them to take the longer way when they are aware of the short cut? There is some logic here, why hassle when I know the easy way out and that’s reading for exams.
It would have been better if the employer looked at skill rather than papers. Not only could he get the most appropriate candidate for the job but it will also help by a great extent to reduce the case of half-baked graduates. Because there wouldn’t be an easy way out, study for skills not only for the papers.
Also its about the JAB selection criterion. A person is much more productive when he does something that he is skilled in. something that he is interested in not something that he is pushed to do. Here, parents can also be blamed for pushing their kids into some dream that they want for them. I like a phrase that someone once used, ‘parents try to achieve their unfulfilled dreams through the lives of their children’ which isn’t a good idea.
Since every employer seeks for experienced employees, how sure are we that the half-baked thing is only an easy criterion to shake off fresh jobseekers? Never be too fast to make a ruling because you never know what plays in behind the scenes!! So take some time and listen to the students as they say, we are not jus half-baked.