One of the major challenges facing Form Four leavers is making choices on careers. On paper, transition is determined by performance at the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE); either one qualifies for university admission or not. Qualifiers are assured of placement in universities while the others have to seek opportunities elsewhere, especially in middle-level colleges. But things are never that clear cut.
Progression to higher education is determined by other variables not apparent to learners and parents.
Which is why career guidance is increasingly becoming a critical element in the education sector. A career fair organised in Nairobi Saturday demonstrated the paucity of information on higher education and the consequent demand for proper structures of offering that in a systematic manner.
Higher education has evolved while labour needs have morphed. First, the number of universities and tertiary institutions have expanded phenomenally. In that maze, it is quite difficult for candidates to make correct choices without proper information.
Expansion of higher education in itself does not translate into opportunities. Universities, for example, offer a range of courses some of which do not promise clear career paths for graduates, and in a society where education and training are closely linked to employment, absence of the nexus between the two is extremely problematic.
Entry into a particular degree or diploma programme does not necessarily determine placement post-training. But that information is not available to learners. Universities are essentially academic institutions whose objective is to inculcate knowledge, skills and attitudes. They are meant to create knowledgeable people, who can apply what they learn to better their lives. But that no longer obtains because of the present set-up where the institutions are heavily populated, poorly resourced and incapacitated to promote research and creation of new knowledge.
Paradoxically, more opportunities exist elsewhere and which if students were properly informed, would help them make smooth transition and help them progress.
The point is that there is need to set up proper career guidance programmes in schools to prepare candidates for transition to higher education, enable them pursue courses of choice and succeed in life.