Kenya is one of the countries in Africa where most people are educated. With a literacy level of 87.4%, Kenya is ranked number three in Africa and number 140 out of the 215 countries in the world.
Generally, literacy is the ability to read and write. However, different countries determine their literacy levels using different standards, with some expanding their scope to the ability to adequately use numbers, language, images or any other means that will enable the understanding and dominant use of symbols within a particular culture.
With the advent of technology, the countries under the umbrella of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which mainly comprises the developed countries, has included skills to access information via technology, as well as the ability to access intricate contexts. Inasmuch as the literacy rate is not an accurate measure of educational results, it is the most valid measure of education level in general. It is postulated that low literacy levels result in the impediment of economic development especially with the dawn of the tech-savvy world.
This year, Nairobi became the pride of many after it was named the most ‘Intelligent’ city in Africa. This was attributed to the fact that the city has been embracing technology and innovation. It was the only African city to make an appearance among the 21 shortlisted intelligent cities in 2015. Unfortunately, Nairobi didn’t meet the cut that would see seven finalists battle for the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year award slated for June this year.
With the cropping up of numerous educational centers from Day Care centers to Universities, the literacy level of Kenyans is undoubtedly set to soar even higher. However, does high literacy levels translate to a high number of ready-for –work job applicants? In recent times, the Job market has been up in arms accusing institutions of higher learning for not producing individuals that meet the needs of the job market. According to most employers, most of the curriculum in institutions of higher learning is outdated, and needs to be revised and updated depending on the market needs.
There is this popular phrase used world over; ‘Education is the key to success.’ This has lead to many Kenyans seeking to acquire as many degrees and diplomas as possible, with the hope of finding a better job placement opportunity. But is this always the case? Most employers have demanded for work experience in their job listings as a way to ensure that they get ready-to-work job applicants. However, is this approach doing any good? Who is to blame for the deficiencies in the training?
Presently, there is no traditional financial aid directed towards tuition for certifications or other noncredit credentials, other than the tuition aid for the regular students in the public universities otherwise known as JAB students. In the true Kenyan spirit, even those employees who seek to advance their proficiency in a particular field enroll in universities to acquire more and more degrees. It is time that our Government begins to lay emphasis on credentials in addition to stating the importance of getting the college certificates, diplomas and degrees. Currently, the industry is shifting blame to the learning institutions; while this should be an initiative that also includes the private sector as well as the Government and the job seekers.
For most of the sectors that have seen tremendous growth, particularly the IT sector, there has been great emphasis on the acquisition of these certifications or training programs. If Kenya wishes to realize its Vision 2030 goals, there is need to attain the threshold for advancement of health care, information technology, manufacturing, energy and cyber security. These advancements can particularly be attained through continued support for the acquisition of updated infrastructure necessary for appropriate certification and credentials. The government should take the front seat and liaise with the private sector and institutions of higher learning in setting aside financial aid for tuition fees particularly for trainings, as well as setting up a curriculum that is regularly updated depending on the market needs.
With increasing specialization, non-credit trainings and certifications are the credentials that count in many job openings.