Are Kenyan Diplomas/Certificates Conning the Kenyan Youth?

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Every time I hear a young Kenyan looking for a job with a Diploma or Certificate, I get scared.

I think the commercialization of our education system is the worst thing that could ever have happened to young Kenyans. What do these Diplomas or Certificates really mean? What is their value both inside and outside Kenya?

If you look at most Universities in Kenya and the numerous colleges/polytechnics that were upgraded to Universities, the Certificates and Diplomas are usually in the same subjects as the Degrees. So what is the difference between a Diploma in Journalism & Media to a degree in the same? And let’s not even start on the IT Diplomas where they only do Microsoft Office tools (Packages as we call them) or Certificates in Marketing where you learn nothing about what a brand is.

My greatest worry is that young people in Kenya continue to pay for qualifications that will bring no returns. I know several people with the Diplomas or Certificates in Kenya who work but the jobs aren’t necessarily based on the qualifications. Usually you get a job with a Diploma/Certificate only if you know someone and these qualifications are only “evidence” that you went to school.

Kenyan Diplomas and Certificates are generally a waste of time and money. Why can’t we have subjects that are only offered in Diplomas and Certificates and others only in Degrees, such that we only have specific groups for each category? Does it make sense to produce 1,000 Media degree graduates plus 500 Diplomas and 200 Certificates in the same? Where will all these people get jobs? If employers prioritise “higher” qualifications, will the Certificate holders ever get a job when they are competing with degree holders?

I have nothing against Certificates, they are great as a supplement to your qualifications but not as the main qualification.

If I would borrow from the German system, degrees and diplomas are clearly cut. And before you rubbish this whole article because, another diasporan is trying to “change” how things run in Kenya. Otto von Bismark (the German Chancellor famous for organising the Scramble for Africa) once said, “Only fools learn from their own experiences, the wise learn from the failures of others”.

The Ausbildung (Apprenticeship) which should be equivalent to a Kenyan Diploma is only offered in specific professions usually the technical (hand work) professions like nursing, electrician, plumbers e.t.c while degrees handle the theoretical professions e.g. doctors, electrical engineers, water scientist e.t.c. What this does is, it ensures that those with an Ausbildung will NEVER be competing for the same jobs as the degree holders (other than when they are both working odd jobs for lack of “real” jobs in their profession).

The system does allow those holding Ausbildungen to further their studies but once they do, they don’t continue “playing” in the same field. For example an electrician can decided to further his Ausbildung to an Engineering degree and that puts him on a different level in the job hierarchy.

The reason it seems a momentous task to get most youth employed is the fact that it looks like ALL the Kenyan youth are fighting for the same job. Most young people in Kenya are studying Journalism and Media, a look at most Kenyan TV channels will show that most of the news anchors resemble beauty models. What happens to the “not so cute” people who aim to become anchors? Another thing is most of these anchors didn’t study anything to do with media. The radio presenters, most are either musicians or celebrities from other fields or they got the job because someone heard their voice and thought they had a “radio voice”. What happens to all the other students who study for this field but never meet someone to hear their “radio voice” or aren’t celebrities?

I think the youth in Kenya together with their parents need to rethink before enrolling to Diploma programs, not only do they waste time but they are not cheap especially if you take them up at one of those private Universities in Kenya.

Do we as a society ever consider the study courses or do we simply just take on anything offered to us? Yoweri Museveni remarked during a graduation last year, “Most of the courses in African Universities are irrelevant and don’t reflect the times. Why should anyone be studying Conflict Resolution? What happens to them when there’s no conflict to resolve? They must eat. African Universities will have to change with the times.”

I totally agree. I think the worst move from the Kibaki government was the conversion of most if not all colleges and polytechnics to Universities. We still need technical professions, in Kenya more than anywhere else. We’re not at that stage where we can all be in offices, not yet. It’s unfortunate that the Thika Super Highway we’re so proud of was built by Chinese as most Kenyans sat and watched them work. Oil and water have been discovered in Turkana, will we be all be fighting for the top management jobs while the companies have to import the other workers?

Is our system producing professionals who are competitive in the global market? If you look at India even with their funny English accent, they are world renowned for their IT skills. Most bluechip companies have their IT departments in India, and even those that are outside India most of their employees are Indian (usually imported).

Can a Kenyan Diploma, Certificate, degree hold any water against those from other countries?

Has the country failed its youth by allowing old rich people sell bogus qualifications to young people?

If this continues, the country will be striving for VISION2030 with VISION1900 Employees.

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