Many people go to school in the hope that education will offer them a better future. Even so, the level of joblessness is going up as time keep on clicking.
David Muiruri, one of the jobless, calls himself a tarmacking graduate. He has a Bachelors of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Laikipia University.
Born and raised up in Githunguri, the 24-year-old Muiruri tells his journey of chasing a good career for over 16 years.
He was driven by hope that it would bear fruits and grant him a chance of helping his two siblings. While growing up, Muiruri admired becoming successful.
All he ever wanted was to change the narrative of his family and the rest of the less fortunate societal members.
“Everybody describes education as the major key to life. With this sentiment, I made sure that I steered myself with positive vibe, hard work and determination that I knew would help me reach the top level of the 8-4-4 education system and stand a better position of getting a job worth the sacrifice I made,” Muiruri says.
For him, the late-night journey through primary and secondary school under a dimmed candle light while doing studies was something of its kind that qualifies a “jackpot”.
He felt that it was possible to achieve greatness in life through relentless hard work, determination and sacrifice.
The journey from primary school to being crowned a second class (upper division) degree was tough.
His family sacrificed a lot, including selling the only piece of land they owned and a herd of cattle to see him through.
When he enrolled for the degree at Laikipia University, the hand to mouth earning of his family could not cater for his tuition fee fully.
He is one among many youths who chose to use government funds from the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to finance his lifetime dream.
Up to now, endless questions still run through his head as he tries to fathom how he is going to pay back the loan he acquired to fund his education at the university.
He is of the opinion that the same government that finances the dreams of less fortunate but future oriented Kenyan youths like him should offer them jobs.
Muiruri stated that even with a degree, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for most youths; a gap that pushes some to engage in criminal activities so as to tend for their daily needs.
He observed that studying is never a tussle.
The struggle and frustrations begin when youths graduate and are ushered into the real world of job searching.
“At first I was excited and ready to join the workforce. I tarmacked for over one year until all I could think of was failure,” he laments.
“I had disappointed my family. I saw myself as a bad role model to my siblings and the community that stood with me when I needed their helping hand,” he continues.
He adds that when he came to terms with the fact that there was no job on sight, he had to create one.
While pondering the menace of unemployment, the frustrated Muiruri recalled a speech given by CS George Magoha during an event he had attended at a university that there’s need for Kenyan youths to graduate and create job opportunities. This changed his life.
He vowed to make use of online tutorials to gain knowledge on how to do online writing, transcription and make advertisements.
Despite having gotten a hustle that he does by himself, Muiruri reiterated that education is no longer the key to success in Kenya.
For youths full of disappointments and betrayal like him, he notes that in Kenya, employment chances go to those who possess ‘tall relatives’.
However, amidst all the favoritism, he still has hope of rejuvenating and landing his dream job since everybody deserves a great life that can be achieved if society becomes more responsible in generating creative and innovative ideas.
Muiruri is among many youths in Kenya who feel deprived of words to give as a way of encouraging future generations that education is the key to life.
To him, education is exaggerated and overrated.
“The government needs to stop abdicating its responsibility of making this country a better place for every citizen. It should hasten and invest in creating and making our economy productive through exploring various skills and talents gained through learning,” Muiruri says.
He looks forward to the time when youths will walk out of campus and land a better place in the world where they can practice the knowledge taught in class to earn a living.
“That is when education will be a key to life.”
According to the Maiden Quarterly Labor data released on Tuesday March 2020 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), youths like Muiruri form part of the 4 million of Kenya’s youths eligible for work yet have no jobs.
The quarterly report indicates that 4,066,362 or 34.27% of the 11.6 million young Kenyans were jobless as at December when the data was collected.
This highlights income inequality across age demographics.
“The youth aged 20-30 had the highest proportion (14.2%) of unemployment. On the other hand, those aged 60-64 years had legible employment rates,” KNBS reports in the quarterly Labor Force Report.
The state defines unemployed youths as people who do not have a job and have actively been looking for employment in recent weeks.
This definition shows that indeed there is a loophole in the employment of youths that needs to be addressed.
A report by the African Journal of Economic Review notes that in order for Kenya to reverse the trend in slow employment growth affecting most youths of Muiruri’s kind, the focus should be geared towards ensuring sustained economic growth.
In addition, employment needs to be put at the center of the country’s macro-economic policies.
The European Journal of Science Studies too stresses on the need for youths to be job creators and not job seekers.
The government needs to align education curriculum with the demand of the market in a paramount and hastened pace.
Universities have been encouraged to develop courses that are relevant and demand driven.
Duplication of courses according to the report with fewer demands should be minimized as this floods the country with graduates who have similar courses that are not on demand by the employer.
The report further states that technical education should be enhanced and proper mechanisms put in place to sponsor and encourage students like Muiruri to take up those courses that can be beneficial once they face the corporate world.
Also, strict regulation should be enacted to fight corruption, nepotism and favoritism thus make youths like Muiruri triumph in their life. In this, the government has to act.