• There is a sense that a university degree has lost its meaning due to scarcity of jobs
• Lecturer urges Kenyans to change their mindset as they learn life lessons in university
The article titled ‘Degrees that bear no jobs’ provoked interesting reactions. In the article, a young student suggested that university degrees are not worth the effort because they do not assure graduates of getting jobs.
The article, published in the Star Digital edition on June 6, was based on the testimony of a final-year university student in central Kenya. She has lots of unemployed friends and is worried about her future when she graduates.
From the comments left by readers, many Kenyans agreed that the government has not created enough jobs for the 1 million youths joining the job market each year. However, readers disagreed on the true meaning of a university degree.
Some readers said certain university courses are not relevant in today's economy, and that's why graduates who took those courses are not getting jobs. Another set of readers argued that securing employment depends on a graduate's efforts. "There is no such thing as a useless education degree. The usefulness of education depends on the mindset of the holder," one reader commented.
Who better to discuss the true value of a university education with than an academician? Amos Marube, a journalism lecturer at a public university in Nairobi, believes the purpose of formal education is much bigger than getting a job. In his career as a lecturer, he often sees people with well-paying jobs return to university to pursue education.
“Education is important because it teaches about life; it teaches critical thinking. Education helps you understand where you come from,” Marube says. "The knowledge you get in class will be useful to you in future, though you may sometimes feel your studies are not relevant to your current circumstances."
The knowledge you get in class will be useful to you in future, though you may sometimes feel your studies are not relevant to your current circumstancesAmos Marube
He agrees with sentiments that the government should do more to create jobs. The youth, frustrated with unemployment, may wonder why they spent so much time studying, but they should not lose hope.
Marube advises the youth to be aggressive in exploiting available opportunities, such as those on the Internet. Devolution is also offering opportunities in rural areas, which the youth should exploit.
The growth of online business and job opportunities increases rather than reduces the relevance of education. "For example, with communication skills, many young people are earning a living from blogs and YouTube," he says. “There are people making money offering tutorials online.”
From his observations, Marube notes that the youth dismissing university degrees as useless are those who don't want to roll up their sleeves to succeed. In short, they are lazy.
"Change with the times because things have never been easy. You have to be aggressive to achieve your dreams. Diversify yourself and look for multiple income-earning opportunities. For example, I am a university lecturer but I also do events management," he says.
Universities are centres of knowledge and scientific research. The knowledge has helped human society attain much better standards of living compared to the past. If young people lose interest in acquiring knowledge, Marube warns, the human species will go extinct.
This story first appeared on the digital magazine Star Sasa, accessible on Sundays for Sh10 by dialling *550*3#
Edited by T Jalio